In Russian families, two topics are most often tabooed: sex and money. This does not mean that they are not talked about at all. But the discussion, as a rule, comes down to the coordination of actions. “We will spend twenty thousand on school fees for the child, four every month we will save for vacation. Let’s calculate, but will it be possible to borrow a car? There is a communal cauldron, but the ingredients of the soup and the largest spoons that scoop it out of the pot are rarely the subject of conversation.
Why is this happening? We all somehow come from the USSR, where there was not only sex, but also money. Wealth was considered harmful and corrupting, dreams of millions and millions themselves were ridiculed – just remember the image of citizen Koreiko and the hunters for his fortune. A decent Soviet person did not chase after rubles – he worked for the good of his homeland, disliked capitalism and was proud of the equality that reigned in the Union. And even more so, he did not consider who and how much invests in the maintenance of the family.
Money has become the opposite of love. Women who pay attention to the viability of the chosen one are stigmatized as materialistic, even when their demand for a potential partner is limited to a simple “earns no less than me.” A man can write a whole rider about the appearance of a girl, and no one will even glance. But as soon as he talks about her income, he will immediately be declared a gigolo, unable to support his family.
A separate budget causes the same bewilderment as a guest marriage: why start a family at all if everyone will be shaking over their wallet? A prenuptial agreement is still considered a sign that there is no smell of love between the young: they haven’t yet signed, but they are already trying on how they will divide property during a divorce. All this is combined with an understanding of the importance of money: every third Russian in polls says that the main reason for divorce is a lack of finances.
The topic of each person’s contribution to relationships is a sore subject not only in Russia: Western experts, for example, are still arguing whether it is necessary to figure out who spends how much time on household chores. Some say that such an “account” kills the union, others explain that the question is solely in the appropriateness of calculations: there are times when they are useful. The same is true with money: there are several important reasons to count it.
Who is in charge?
Everyone knows the saying that money is power. Talk to any waitress or sales assistant and hear many stories about how a person who came to spend several thousand rubles believes that he is buying not only a TV or a steak, but also the entire staff of the establishment. My friend, who owns a small point of children’s art, says that there are even five-year-old children who say to the artists who help them: “My mother paid you, so you will do what I say.”
It would seem, what does the family have to do with it? However, 40% of men in surveys say that a husband who supports his wife has power over her and can, for example, forbid a woman to work. The status of a breadwinner is viewed in Russia not only as a responsibility, but also as the right to manage the life of “dependents”. At the same time, there is discrimination against women in the labor market: a study by the NAFI analytical center shows that in Russia, with the same qualifications, women’s wages are 27% lower than men’s. In other words, wives, even with equal positions, will bring home a third less salary.
Often this bias is enough for a man to perceive his contribution to the general budget as much more significant and therefore giving the right to the status of “alpha”. Counting money is needed to fight outdated ideas about gender roles in the family with numbers: “Honey, you earn more, but let’s not forget that my funds cover half of the fixed expenses that cannot be avoided.”
“Everything around is collective farm, everything around is mine”
Another problem is the cost structure. Often a situation arises when a woman’s money goes to household needs: utilities, food, cleaning products, laundry and dishwashing. The husband participates in such expenses in modest episodic amounts, and large purchases are made from his larger salary: household appliances, furniture, clothes and shoes.
This creates a harmful illusion – looking around the apartment, the spouse sees things bought exclusively by him, and begins to consider himself the owner of “all Khrushchev”. Inconspicuous milk and sausage, instantly disappearing from the refrigerator, do not look as solid as a plasma TV on the wall or a washing machine in the bathroom.
Often, during a divorce, the spouse solemnly endures everything “acquired by overwork”, because he remembers very well that the robot vacuum cleaner was bought from the April bonus, and the new leather sofa from the thirteenth salary. The fact that all this money could be freely spent in the “World of Furniture” and “M-Video” only because the wife fully assumed the costs in “Pyaterochka” and “Auchan”, “alpha” forgets. Yes, and it is technically impossible to return the eaten pork escalopes.
That is why it is worth counting money. Sausage is a too unreliable monument to products that we need every day much more than a TV or cosmetic repairs. Do not underestimate your contribution: usually it is the foundation on which sofas and plasma panels stand.
“The former gave all the money to me. When I started counting, it suddenly turned out that everything he earned went exclusively to him, and we lived on mine. He always needed something: either another tool, or a professional camera plus flashes, plus additional cartoons, or skis, always professional ones. And there was no end in sight. The last super-necessary purchase after we split the budgets was a professional microscope. During the divorce, he naturally took everything that was his.”
Money is confidence
Once I got into a conversation on the Web with a woman who taught young mothers SMM and found the first clients for her wards. Most of the students were girls who married foreigners. The owner of the school explained her choice of audience with the social mission of the business: according to her, it is these women who are often the most vulnerable.
Those who have left the country and given birth abroad almost immediately often have poor language skills, are isolated and have a vague idea of their rights. Men often take advantage of this, demanding unquestioning obedience and resorting to psychological and economic violence. A woman has nowhere to go: she has no money, no acquaintances, no understanding of how to protect herself with the help of laws.
According to the founder of the courses, even the first pennies earned radically changed the lives of young mothers. Even when the fee was literally enough for hair ties, the woman stopped feeling helpless, began to believe in her own strength and rebelled against tyranny. Sometimes a protest was enough to call her husband to order and gain respect.
Money is really power, and above all – over your own life. That is why it makes sense to count your contribution. Even if it is small, it is better to know that your investments exist, and are not equal to zero. When a contribution to the family budget is equal to or greater than the husband’s contribution, this is an excellent basis for combating patriarchal stereotypes, including in one’s own head.
“I paid for a communal apartment in order to be able to plug the fountain“ You are nobody here and there is no way to call you. And the expenses for the cats were also on me – for the sake of making sure that they definitely have everything.
“We have a joint budget, I do the accounting. From the discoveries – I can support the whole family myself, and all the proud statements about “Only I can bring big money” turned out to be foam: it can bring, but one-time, irregularly, and if it were not for my constant income, this big money would be smeared with a thin, modest layer . It is necessary to count everything, for everyone, and regularly voice these calculations, so that no cries about “I brought it here” are to be prevented. ”
Our mothers and grandmothers never thought about a mortgage and did not open an account immediately after the birth of a child to give him an education. We are still wary of investing and often get bogged down in loans without calculating our strength. There is nothing to be ashamed of: financial literacy comes with experience that people in Russia are just beginning to develop.
Quite often existence within the limits of the general budget is reduced to the general money-box. Did she run out of money on payday? Great, that means everything is going according to plan! But often the detailing of income and expenses brings unexpected surprises. For example, it turns out that all current expenses are covered by the wife’s salary. Or that the husband has more money, but they go to his own hobbies and needs. Oddly enough, this situation often occurs: the authors of the study “Violence against wives in Russian families” state that “women’s” money is considered as “family”, and “men’s” as “personal”.
You can treat the discovered imbalance in different ways, it all depends on the mood of the partners. If the needs of every person in the family are met, then why not spend the money earned on an expensive triathlon bike? But if it turns out that a wife’s manicure has been declared an inappropriate luxury while her husband is snapping up collectible Hot Toys figurines, then perhaps it makes sense to discuss whether the notorious “lad” can really replace the treasure.
“We had a“ box ”, where we both put the cash we earned, money was taken from there for all household expenses. Large purchases were made with my funds, because I always earned more, and this was not a special secret. It was enough for me that a person makes some kind of contribution. When, after five years of marriage, I gave birth to a child, I switched completely to a bank transfer and no longer replenished the cash box with cash. And I was surprised to find that no one replenishes it.
“In marriage with her husband, there was a tacit agreement: a communal apartment, groceries (large purchases in a supermarket), vacations from him. From me – children’s clothes, shoes, toys, household chemicals, a dentist for me and the children, medicines, a kindergarten, mugs, fees at school. At first, I didn’t count money, so for me and for my husband everything looked like “He supports us, I spend my salary on all sorts of trifles and pampering.” Against this background, my husband unloaded the whole life on me and began to reproach me aloud as an embezzler. Then I began to count my and my husband’s contribution, and it suddenly turned out that “his” communal apartment and purchases in supermarkets once every two weeks are in total less than it takes me a month.
Oddly enough, it makes sense to count even money that is not there. Women who completely take over the life of the family often see themselves as dependents who are “supported”. Even more often, their own husbands treat them this way. On men’s forums, there are a lot of requests in the spirit of “How not to share an apartment with my wife during a divorce, she spent her whole life with children and invested a penny in it” – sometimes special sections are created for such topics.
Meanwhile, only surrogate motherhood will cost a man several million rubles. A nanny who lives even in the regions wants to receive 50–90 thousand a month, and she will only clean the children’s room. The prices for prepared food bite unpleasantly when compared with the cost of products. Specialists of cleaning companies do not touch personal belongings: please put your clothes in closets, and only after that we will clean your apartment.
Experts estimate women’s unpaid work at home and caring for children and the sick at 13% of global GDP. With their own work, any housewife makes a huge contribution to the overall budget: in most cases it is physically impossible to outsource it – the cost of such services will exceed the total income of the average Russian couple.
We are still spoiled by the stereotype that love and counting money are incompatible. But romance is not killed by calculations, but by imbalance: the boat will not sail far if one of the two rowers swings the oar every other time. Arithmetic in itself is neither good nor bad. If taken as a way to appreciate each person’s investment in a common union, it will not interfere with the respect and affection of people for each other, but only strengthen them.