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-   -   Income Disparity Between Partners. How do I navigate vacations and finances? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=145154)

DaisyF92 06-25-2020 10:51 PM

Income Disparity Between Partners. How do I navigate vacations and finances?
 
Hello. This will be my first post. I’m Daisy!

So I’m in a bit of a tough spot.

I have been with partner A for 6 years now and we are basically married (will likely be really married soon). We live together and share finances. We don’t make a lot of money, but have always been happy because we are frugal. I’d say between the two of us, we make about 40k a year combined.

I have been with partner B for about 2 years now. They spend a lot of time at our house and the goal will one day (I’m hoping) be to Get married and all live together.

“Problem” is... partner B makes about 60k a year By themselves and is in track to up that to about $65k pretty soon. Partner B LOVES to travel and book weekend or week long trips every now and then, often inviting me along. Sometimes to Europe or Latin America. And I love going! We just stayed at a very nice cabin resort for the weekend and it was perfect.
However, they never really invite partner A along and this makes me feel a bit guilty. I know partner A would like to go on trips every now and then and unwind, but we just can’t afford it.
I don’t expect partner B to pay for partner A, but I often feel guilty or that it’s unfair of me to have all these nice vacations with B, while A and I can’t afford one. I can sometimes tell partner A is a bit envious.

How do you handle such a large income disparity while keeping both partners happy? Partner A mentioned to me yesterday that they think my partnership with partner B is so glamorous and cool and their life with me is boring in comparison. That made me feel bad. But I still do enjoy being treated to these trips every now and then. I’d love to travel even more if I could afford it.

I feel bad, but whenever I encourage partner A to go back to school, or look for more steady work, they always have an excuse and in truth, don’t really know the meaning of working hard. ( I am in school for finance so will be making around the same as partner B within a couple years).

B works very hard for their money and loves to spend and enjoy it. I just hate feeling so guilty for enjoying it with them and not including partner A.
I do try and have affordable and special events with A as well. Well do a picnic in the park, or have a shopping day, Go camping for a couple days or have a night out. I fear it isn’t enough to keep A satisfied and happy by comparison.
Any advice?

Inaniel 06-25-2020 11:41 PM

My advice is to stop feeling guilty.. Is Partner A going out of the way to make you feel guilty? If not there is no reason to fret. You and Partner A can travel too, even if it must be in a different way… For now encourage Partner A to be happy for you and enjoy the opportunities you have.

I am in a similar situation. My Wife makes about 40k a year, both my girlfriend and I have six figure salaries. When the relationship with GF was blossoming we went on a lot of trips together, however I didn’t let that stop me from traveling with Wife because traveling is a priority for her. You can travel on a low budget, in fact some of my best travel memories were made with Wife back before we made hardly any money at all!

This won’t really apply to your relationships, however I will share how we manage our money to give you an idea of how at least one polycule is finding success… And you never know what’s possible if Partner B and Partner A end up developing a closer relationship.

Currently Wife, GF, and I cohabitate, and consider ourselves a family. Finances got complicated as soon as we moved in together and we eventually settled on an approach based on income burden. When it came to large expenses like the house we normalized the ratio of what we pay by the burden it has on our paycheck. We developed a ratio that would burden each of our income at a fixed percentage. So say we each pay 10% of our individual incomes for the home, the actual dollar amount is different for each of us (because we obviously have different incomes) but we each still have 90% of our incomes to do other things with. For assets such as the house, the dollar amount we each pay corresponds to the individual ownership shares of the home defined in a tenants in common agreement. We did this so my wife was not disproportionately burdened by the expensive house we bought, as a consequence her ownership share is lower.

Over time we started using “the ratio” for more things, particularly expenses that involve the whole family. This enables us all to travel together without disproportionately burdening Wife’s income (That means her trip is partially subsidized by my GF and I). This method works for us because we care more about inclusiveness and shared experiences over money and we are all quite happy with the arrangement so far.

We should have a thread about how poly members manage finances. I think it would be a fascinating read.

GalaGirl 06-26-2020 12:23 AM

Quote:

However, they never really invite partner A along and this makes me feel a bit guilty.
Why? Guilt implies you are responsible for something you did that is bad.

Partner B isn't obligated to offer partner A trips.

Quote:

I know partner A would like to go on trips every now and then and unwind, but we just can’t afford it.
So it is a personal limit. And it may take longer to save up for trips on that side. It's not anyone's fault. it's just Life. Some careers pay more than others. People have to deal with their budgets.

Quote:

I don’t expect partner B to pay for partner A, but I often feel guilty or that it’s unfair of me to have all these nice vacations with B, while A and I can’t afford one. I can sometimes tell partner A is a bit envious.
Slow this down. Are you saying this?

1) You believe everything in your relationships should be exactly the same or else it isn't "fair."

2) You think to yourself that is not ok to enjoy nice vacations with partner B. Because Partner A doesn't have any.

3)And thinking all this makes you feel bad.

Is that how it goes? If so, could change your belief that both relationships have to be exactly the same.

Quote:

Partner A mentioned to me yesterday that they think my partnership with partner B is so glamorous and cool and their life with me is boring in comparison.
Could not take Partner A's feelings on board for yourself.

Could ask them why partner A talks down about themselves like they are boring.

Could ask them if they need reassuring that you are happy being with Partner A.

Quote:

I feel bad, but whenever I encourage partner A to go back to school, or look for more steady work, they always have an excuse and in truth, don’t really know the meaning of working hard.
So basically they don't want to change anything about their job or finances? That's ok. You could leave them to it. Let their stuff be their stuff.

Quote:

I just hate feeling so guilty for enjoying it with them and not including partner A.
I think you could let that go. Your two relationships do NOT have to be exactly the same.

Like if you were dating a single person without kids... those kinds of dates would look different than if you were dating a divorced parent where room has to be made for children, right?

Would you sit around feeling bad about that? Or accept that each relationship has it's own things?

Quote:

I do try and have affordable and special events with A as well. Well do a picnic in the park, or have a shopping day, Go camping for a couple days or have a night out.
That's nice.

Quote:

I fear it isn’t enough to keep A satisfied and happy by comparison.
Why is it your job to prop partner A up? Or rescue them from their feelings?

I think you could detach a little bit. It's not a hinge's job to be doing everyone else's emotional management for them.

Galagirl

vinsanity0 06-26-2020 02:27 AM

This is something I've never had to worry about because all my relationships are separate. There is no inviting along a partner's partner.

Just do with each one what they can afford to do. Money doesn't mean a whole lot, hopefully. I mean, hopefully you aren't comparing the two based on that.

DaisyF92 06-26-2020 04:20 AM

Hi Galagirl,

Yes I suppose I do believe in 1,2, and 3.
My worry is that since I’ve been with partner A for so long and they are my fiancé, they will want to close the relationship if they see too much of an imbalance or if they start becoming depressed. I wouldn’t put up with them asking me to close, but it’s not a point I want to reach.
A has asked once if they could come along on a trip and I said we couldn’t afford it, but I would ask B If they’d be willing to splurge. Unfortunately B got a little annoyed and said they couldn’t afford to take another adult to Europe, but a smaller trip in the future would be ok.
B already contributes lots of money to the household in the form of groceries and B gives A pretty expensive bday and Christmas gifts. I feel like A wants me to push harder to get and to invite them along, but I just can’t stomach it.



I guess not everything has to be equal, but partner A has started to feeL bad when I’m in trips. They can’t sleep, cry sometimes, and feel bad in general. This isn’t something I want to happen because I do value both relationships the same. If I could afford to bring A along, I would offer on occasion, but I just can’t.
And Vinsanity, no I am not comparing the relationships. I want them both to be happy. It just seems that what makes B happy (travel With me) ends up making A unhappy and feel bad about themselves. The trips are important to me because since A and I live together, the only real alone time I get with B is when we do week or two long trips abroad. I think alone time is important for growth and connection... and while A has had me all to themselves for 4 years, B had never had that opportunity so I try and make up for it how i can.

Just tired of feeling guilty... I guess I shouldn’t though.

SEASONEDpolyAgain 06-26-2020 07:21 AM

Personally, I couldn't go for fantastic vacations abroad while my nesting partner sits at home because we can't afford it. I wouldn't be accepting these gifts that I cannot contribute to in the first place. Not regularly. I'd want to be able to have my own spending money and be able to pay for things myself and if I can't do that, I don't have the money to be there.

It just isn't the type of partner that I am.

Dagferi 06-26-2020 01:15 PM

Murf and I have been on many nice vacations as Murfs treat. Murf has no children, has not had any big health issues (where I have jad 6 surgeries on 5 years) and is very very frugal the rest of the year.

Butch has been envious but he just deals with those feelings. I do not rub it in with stories about where I went and what I did.

On the other hand Butch and I do a lot of kick ass local stuff. We go to amusement parks, the Renaissance Faire, Highland Games, day trips all over. Murf gets upset by that because he works every other weekend and etc. I remind him he chooses not to do these things in his spare time because he either wants to save money or is wishy washy about going.

AlwaysGrowing 06-26-2020 02:41 PM

Hubby and I are pretty poor. Boy makes a little bit more than the two of us combined and has no debt (hubby has student loans), no kids, etc.

Boy has taken me on a few nice trips, but I'm not comfortable with him paying for anything extravagant. I already feel bad that he pays for so much, but he doesn't mind since he wouldn't do things alone.

I talked to him about not being able to afford to take 2 full vacations every year, and Boy just looked at me like I'm dumb and asked why we don't plan stuff altogether. So now that is the plan. Any big trip that is going to take up most of my vacation time and requires more of a budget than my personal funds can handle is now a group trip. Boy covers most expenses while Hubby and I pay for our (and little girl's) travel costs pitch in for food/activities where we can. It has gone well, and a bonus has been that Hubby and I can have a child free date during vacations as can Boy and i (even before Hubby started traveling with us, we would take the kiddo).

Our trips are slightly less than they might be if it was just the two of us, but Boy isn't really spending any more than he would be and he is happy that he is helping Hubby and little girl have experiences they may not otherwise get. Plus I'm obviously over the moon about getting to be with my people. Win win win.

That might not work for everyone, but we have taken 2 trips all together now (again, not counting short weekend trips or something which we do both as a group and as individual dyads with and without the child) and are planning a third - covid threw a wrench in that one

Magdlyn 06-26-2020 03:59 PM

I think a lot of this depends, not just on relative incomes, but also on whether one's 2 partners are good friends. If y'all are doing kitchen table poly, and the richer partner wants to treat their metamour, that's great! But if you're doing parallel poly, or if the richer partner just doesn't enjoy treating their less well off friends, then the decision will be different.

I can relate to this, since my nesting partner and I make together probably 1/4 of what her other partner makes. But he hasn't taken her on a lot of fancy vacations yet. In fact, last September, he and I met her at her camp (where she's a director for an overnight camp in the summers), just after the camp sessions were over, and we all enjoyed a basically free long weekend together.

This spring the two of them were going to go from our state of Massachusetts to a wedding of a friend of Pixi's in Texas, and the flight tix were $2000. I am not really able to travel long distances much due to health issues right now. So I wouldn't have been too envious. I did a ton of traveling when I was younger. Someday when people can fly safely again, that $2000 worth of tickets will be used by them.

breathemusic 06-26-2020 05:10 PM

Your NP is allowed to feel envious of the fact that you get to travel with your other partner, but that doesn't mean that you're required to change your behavior or do anything about it. In fact, this is probably a really important exercise for people being responsible for their own feelings and being able to just feel them and then move on from that.

Your non-nesting partner definitely is not responsible for paying for your nesting partner so that they can come along, nor are you responsible for breaking the bank trying to give your nesting partner the same luxuries that your other partner is willing to treat you to.

I DO agree with some other comments here that what you CAN do, is be sensitive to your nesting partner's feelings and not rub in the details of the trip or all of the fancy things that you get to do, unless they actually ask. And as others noted, you can find cheaper ways to do something that still feels luxurious. Do a spa day at home and pamper each other. Go on romantic walks and picnics, etc.

But also, it sounds like your nesting partner also has a problem with wanting a fancier lifestyle but not being willing to put in the work to get there. That may be a conversation that you need to have. As you've said, you will likely be making more in the future. Is your nesting partner then going to expect you to treat them to fancy things? Are you going to be comfortable with that? It's very important to be on the same page with a partner about finances over the long term, especially if you live together.


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