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Recognizing when to walk away

Men should set financial boundaries in marriage and not be afraid to say no to excessive spending requests.

Picture: Boggi Milano

The reader, emphasizes that financial responsibility in a marriage should not solely fall on the husband. He concludes that men should prioritize their well-being and not hesitate to leave an unhappy marriage caused by financial burdens.


Question from Mr. M (real name is undisclosed):

Dear GC,

I'd like to have a say about this men and women debacle that has been going on lately, especially having read the "ask the gentleman" complaints. I think as a men's publication, we should also be encouraged when it's time to say No.
That is also part of being a man. We can't be sacrificing everything for a woman just to please them, but psychologically, it takes a toll on us. Don't be afraid to say No. I know it is our duty to be a gentleman, but everything has a limit.

The million dollar question is, how much is the limit?

Basic that we as a man should provide is a house, food, clothes, bathroom accessories, and household items. Wife allowances (cash that is given) to the wife is not mandatory, at least in Islam, unless it is being substituted (for instance, I give her money but I don't pay for food).

So are makeups, handphones, medicals etc, unless she is 100% a housewife, even that too depends on the husband's financial capabilities.

But what is happening now is, we men are paying for almost everything and we are afraid to say No even if it takes a toll on us. As a Man, We should learn to say no. It's not about giving up or feeling worthless to the woman, or the thought of not being a gentleman. It's about setting your limits. Because if you don't, it would lead to anxiety and depression and eventually leads to all forms of health sickness.

We are the leader of the house, when it comes to say NO we have to say NO, even if it upsets the woman.

Women must be educated on what men should and should not pay for them. This is not "Tai Chi". You don't "Tai Chi" things to the men when it involves money. What do women want in a man? If you want a man who pays everything for you, find a filthy rich guy not some guy who works in a corporate firm.

I want a car, I want botox, I want make up, I want to go travelling, I want vacation, I want this and that yada yada yada....yet all has to be borne by the husband!

Money is a serious issue and I am sure you would agree with me, women can never understand money because they would spend it like water. If they are bored, they randomly want to go out. Look at us, if we are bored we still stay at home finding ways to save but not them.

I have seen many friends of mine who are literally suffering right after marriage because they keep on going over budget, just to satisfy their wives. Endless arguments, endless health issues, yet they still carry on with their marriage because they are afraid to lose their wives.

That is a wrong concept. Marriage is about happiness. If you are not happy with your spouse, despite many attempts to understand each other, it's time to be a man and walk out of it. Think of your health. Your job as a man is not only to please your wife but also your parents, your siblings who are your flesh and blood.

If something happens to you, who would help them?

Just like the other men who had complained to GC, Myself too a one time divorcee but I have remarried. I was the victim of financial abuse. Let me be frank, as a senior executive in a finance dept, I was only earning about RM 7,000 a month after Tax. Before I got married, I had like 2000 - 2500 of savings. Prior to my marriage, we both agreed that she would pay half of the bills because my salary wasn't enough.

After we got married, what was agreed didn't happen. My ex wife started with her excuse that her company was paying her salary late so told me to fork it out for the first month and more excuses came in the subsequent months. Let me give you a breakdown: 

My salary : RM 7,000 (nett)

And here was my monthly commitments:

Ex Wife Allowance : RM 2,000 (this was agreed before our marriage)
House Loan : RM 2,500 (monthly for a condo w maintenance)
My car :  RM 400 (monthly)
Her car : RM 700 (monthly)
My handphone : RM 70 monthly
Her Handpone : RM 150 monthly
Groceries (both me and her) : RM 1,000 monthly
Car Petrol : RM 300 (monthly)
Her car petrol : RM 400 (monthly)
Her makeup : RM 700 (monthly)
Her clothes : RM 500 (avg monthly)
Utilities (electric, water) : RM 200 (monthly)
Dating (food, movie, leisure) = RM 1000 (monthly)

Total Commitment : RM 9,920

Salary 7000 - 9,920 = -2,920.

That is an overspent close to 3,000 in 1 month. Imagine if this trend were to keep going, I would end up being bankrupt because I keep using my savings.

Took me a year to call it quits as I cannot be overspending every month because of her. We had heated arguments, we threw things at each other, we screamed our lungs out, the marriage became a freaking nightmare. It was all anger and rage. It was no longer a happy home to come to. 

How can we live with this and give in for the sake of a woman? HELL NO! I can't pretend or be patient about it.

The minute I was back to single, I was back saving again until I met my current wife who totally understands my financial limitations. My current wife pays all her bills herself including her medicals, make up, petrol etc. I would only pay for the house. Even when we go on dates, I would pay my portion and she would pay hers, unless its special occasion like birthdays.

I was finally happy that I found someone that compliments me and understands my difficulties. I was able to control my spending against my salary. I no longer spend excessively like I did with my first marriage.

This is what a happy marriage is.

My advice is that every man must have a limit and be brave to call off a marriage if it leads to unhappiness. Record all your expenses on paper and check if you are overspending. If you are overspending and most of it because of your wife's commitment, Don't pretend that it is okay, just because you want to please the woman. If she continues to make you run on deficit, find someone else who can compliment you, and someone who you can afford spending. Life is an adventure. You will meet a few wrong people in life before you meet the right one. Don't waste time trying to understand a person. There are many more beautiful people in the world. The right one will come.

Be a Man and Don't be afraid to let go. If everyone wants to please the woman, then there will never be break ups and dissolution of marriages. Accept that some things just aren't meant for each other.

Thanks for reading GC.


Answer by The Gentleman:

Hey there, Mr. M!

Thanks for your email and sharing your story. You bring up some incredibly important points about financial responsibility and recognizing the signs of a toxic marriage.

Absolutely, there's a limit to what constitutes being a gentleman. While providing for your partner is a cornerstone of a supportive relationship, sacrificing your well-being for someone who constantly pushes those boundaries is detrimental to both your happiness and financial health.

Your breakdown of the expenses in your first marriage paints a stark picture of how unsustainable financial imbalance can be. Prioritizing open communication and setting clear financial expectations is crucial before and throughout marriage. Otherwise, one will suffer.

We completely agree – knowing when to walk away from a toxic situation is a sign of strength and prioritizing your own well-being. It demonstrated your ownership and responsibility in your life journey. We have only one life and our journey on earth is limited. Let's make it worthwhile.

Your story serves as a powerful reminder to our readers that true happiness lies in finding a compatible partner who complements your life, not financially drains it.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Mike. We'll definitely consider featuring your story in an upcoming article to encourage open conversations about financial responsibility and recognizing the signs of an unhealthy relationship.


The Gentleman

What To Look for in a Partner – The 3 C’s

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