Wednesday, May 22, 2013

House Husband Dissatisfied with Monthly Allowance

Berkeley, CA

Scott Reed, house husband in West Berkeley, complains that his wife, Linda has been shortchanging him on his monthly allowance.  “Back in 2009, I lost my job at Down-and Up Burger.  Rather than look for some other dead-end job, I decided to stay home and take care of the house.”  At that point, Linda took over paying for food, rent, and bills. 


“Linda’s lucky to have me. I’m different from other guys,” Scott boasted.  “I don’t need  to prove my manhood with some important job or big money.”

In order to feel independent, Scott negotiated for a $100 monthly entertainment allowance.  Three years later, Scott is ready for a cost of living increase, but Linda refuses. 

Linda, a public high school teacher, argues that she’ll raise the allowance if and when Scott proves that he can spend it wisely and responsibly. 

“Last month, Scott blew his whole allowance in the first week, on video games and candy.   He says he wants to save up for a car, and yet his piggy bank is empty.”

Scott sees the situation quite differently.  “I am 38 years old and I don’t see why she treats me like a kid.  She never listens.  She just doesn’t understand me.”

Last Tuesday, Linda came home to the following note on the kitchen table.  “I can’t take it anymore.  I’m going someplace where people love me.  Don’t try to find me, because you won’t be able to.  Love, Scott.”

After crying her eyes out for at least five minutes, Linda drove over to Scott’s mother’s house.  Scott came to the door.  “He protested and yelled at me, but I could see that he was holding back a smile,” Linda reported.

Within a few days, the couple began quarreling bitterly again, causing neighbors to complain about noise disturbances on the otherwise quiet Berkeley street.

Jan Orsen, community mediator, has been deployed to help the couple reach an agreement. “We’re setting up a system of positive and negative reinforcement.  Scott will get one point for every extra chore he completes during the month, and he’ll get one point off for bad behavior.  Each point will have a monetary value, so it’ll be to his advantage to keep himself in the black.”

Linda comments, “I’m encouraged by the negotiations.  I think this is going to be really good for Scott.”

Scott is less enthused about the situation.  “I think it’s unfair.  But, fine, I’ll do it.”  Then, when Linda was out of earshot, he added, “If I feel like it.”


Written by Diana Shapiro


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