Ask Ellie: Husband not offering his share of the food bill

Advice columnist EllieDear Ellie: How can I get my husband to stop eating us out of house and home? He eats EVERYTHING in the house!

He earns a little more than I do, but with my rental income and child support I probably make more. But I also pay for everything for my two children from a previous marriage, who live with us 70 per cent of the time.

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I have to shop two to four times weekly, costing $100-$200 each trip, just to have food left for the kids or myself.

Food that would last me weeks lasts him a couple days.

He’ll buy only a few things during the week — dog food, dish soap, milk if we run out.

If I ask him to pick up supper, he’ll buy a $20 pack of chicken or a dozen eggs and some tuna cans for himself, rarely anything more.

When I cook huge meals (three times weekly), we eat it once, then he eats all the leftovers for lunch plus all the snacks in the house.

Before he moved in, I spent about one-third of what I’m paying now for groceries for the kids and myself.

He doesn’t see this as an issue. He says that he doesn’t “need” any of the groceries; he’s fine with tuna and eggs every day. But then he won’t make the eggs or tuna, and he’ll still eat everything else in the kitchen, including the snacks.

What he spends on groceries isn’t even a small fraction of what I’m spending. He is twice my size and needs twice the calories, but do I need to pay for all those extra calories or should he be considering the rest of us when he shops? Do I lock food up, label it, or bite him?

While this has been a major issue for years, now that I’m five months pregnant he’s eating all the low-fat cream cheese and apples.

Hungry Wife

Don’t bite (it’s an assault and that’s not helpful.)

Instead, recognize that whatever arrangement you two developed in the past, it’s not working now. Period.

Your initial email to me listed all that you pay for vs. all that he pays for (much less).

I’ve left it out because it doesn’t matter.

The real issue is whether you two are capable of being loving, caring partners and raising together the baby you’re carrying, plus your two children.

Your current arrangement, having gone on for years, has become ludicrously outdated.

Food prices have climbed during the pandemic. Also, it’s shameful for two growing children to see their stepfather eating all the snacks and letting their mother do all the shopping, plus worrying over costs, while he buys private staples for himself.

Now, you’re pregnant with his child. You’ll not be able to lug all those groceries in when the baby comes. So either you’ve got a helpmate or you don’t.

Forget the overwrought financial division of who-pays-what. Your husband moved into a whole family and earnings are close enough for sharing the load.

O.K., he needs more calories. Now you need healthy (likely more expensive) foods for these next months.

Most important, your relationship needs an entirely new footing. The food issue is a distraction that’s in the way.

Discuss this with him, calmly. Tell him that you can only make it work as a lasting union if you’reequally committed to supporting each other and all the children in your care.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Living in a couple relationship requires a commitment to making it work, not just a division of who-pays-for-what and mostly looking after yourself.

Send relationship questions to ellie@thestar.ca. Follow @ellieadvice.

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