Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: I feel stuck and unable to communicate with my husband without breaking some unwritten rule about masculinity.

I have been married for five years and have a new baby. When we got married, we never expected my career to take off, but it did — and despite my frugality, my husband used our joint wealth to make many purchases I was not comfortable with that seemingly turned out to be good investments.

Nonetheless, I feel very uncomfortable with the way he is spending our money. Yet every time I bring up the fact that our money is made by me and that my career is not reliable, my husband and family members tell me I am being emasculating and using my money against my husband.

How do I tell everyone that I am just being honest about our financial stability, and not trying to be condescending to my husband? As soon as I say I make the money and it is not secure, I get shut down for saying that I make the money. It’s infuriating, and I don’t want us to go into a financial hole to protect male fragility.

Please give me the right words to not put my family in a financial hole because the person who makes the money isn’t allowed to talk about the practicalities of their career.

Lady Boss?: Oh, for fox’s sake. Is there a worse word, or concept, than “emasculating”? It basically says there’s verbal consensus (which there isn’t) that the genders must work in concert toward preserving the standing of men.

How ’bout we just value people, people?

You have a voice problem more than anything. As in, you do not have an equal voice in your marital finances. So take the ego fragility out of it entirely.

It is time to insist on an equal voice in your marital finances.

If he refuses, then it’s time to insist on separate accounts. He either enters good-faith discussions with you about sharing the money and the responsibility for spending it, or your pay starts going directly into your own account while you assess the marriage. That’s scorched earth, but better that than your savings and your trust.

As for the terminology/wording/whatever, I don’t see why you can’t just say, “My career is not reliable, so I want safer investments,” or just, “I want to make these decisions together.” No need to keep putting the fine point on your making all the cash.

· Also, why is your family commenting on your finances? I would put them on an information diet. This should be between just you and your spouse. And if he’s sharing this info with them, I’d ask him to stop. If he continues, that’s interesting.

· My husband and I are married to each other now, instead of to the people we were married to 10 years ago, because we both found it impossible to stay legally and emotionally connected to people who were okay with using joint resources — in both our cases, also largely earned by ourselves — for their own selfish purposes. There can be no emotional security with someone you can’t trust to be fair, and there can be no financial security with someone who spends your money out from under you.

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