Income Disparity Between Partners. How do I navigate vacations and finances?

DaisyF92

New member
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?
 
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Inaniel

Active member
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

Well-known member
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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
 
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vinsanity0

Active member
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

New member
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

Active member
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

Active member
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

Well-known member
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

Moderator
Staff member
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.
 
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breathemusic

Active member
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.
 

Vicki82

Member
Fair and equal are two separate concepts. If you guys were mono, you wouldn't be taking big fancy vacations either, right? Because you can't afford them.

We do different things with different people, and that's okay.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
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.

And they can do that -- request to close.

And you can answer honestly "No, I don't want to close"

Or if willing... "I'm willing to partly close and not date NEW people. But the people already here? I'm not ending it with them."


I wouldn’t put up with them asking me to close, but it’s not a point I want to reach.

Well, that point is not here, so don't worry about it at this time.



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.

That was nice of B.

B already contributes lots of money to the household in the form of groceries and B gives A pretty expensive bday and Christmas gifts.

Ok.

I feel THINK like A wants me to push harder to get and to invite them along, but I just can’t stomach it.

You think that A wants you to push.

But you could be thinking wrong, and A hasn't actually asked you to do anything of the sort from the sound of it.

So why are you thinking things that stress you out? :confused: You do not have to "mind reader" A.

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.

That's on partner A. It's not your job to rescue A from all their feelings. Maybe if they feel yucky they will change their mind about improving their job situation. Maybe not.

You don't sound like you are being MEAN to A. Partner A simple is adjusting to the fact that they don't get to vacation with B like you do.

If I could afford to bring A along, I would offer on occasion, but I just can’t.

Well, you mentioned studying and changing jobs in the future. Maybe you can offer later down. No point in banging head on wall because you cannot do it RIGHT NOW.

Again, you are not being MEAN to A. You all just have to live within your means. That's Life for all people.


It just seems that what makes B happy (travel With me) ends up making A unhappy and feel bad about themselves.

Then it's on A not to be comparing.

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

No, you shouldn't.

You are not doing anything horrible to A by enjoying your time spent with B doing whatever activities. You make space for both. You don't rub it in A's face that you do fancy things with B. Or whine "how come you don't take me out like that?" or whatever.

Cut yourself a break.

Let Partner A deal with their own emotional maangement.

I get that it is uncomfortable to watch a partner struggle. You might hold space for them and listen or reassure.

But it isn't your job to FIX anything. YKWIM?

Galagirl
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
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.

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.

!!! OK, this is a bit shocking to me. You live in the US and felt pressured to ask one partner to take the other partner to Europe??

And you say, "unfortunately" B said no. Gosh. That took balls, even to ask. I could imagine it made B feel like they are expected to be a sugar daddy to someone who isn't even their own partner.

... but a smaller trip in the future would be OK.

That is generous. $65K a year isn't really all that much money, especially if you're paying off student loans, or saving something in an IRA or something! Or maybe putting something aside for a future child's education. Whatever. No adult needs to spend a thousand or much more on their partner's partner (or whatever tickets, hotels and food would cost abroad)!

B already contributes lots of money to the household in the form of groceries, and they give A pretty expensive b'day 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.

A sounds like a leech. I have a really strong aversion to this kind of entitlement. A is lucky to get expensive gifts for birthdays and Christmases. My meta doesn't buy me gifts at all.

You say A doesn't know the meaning of hard work. Are you getting fed up with their low income and lack of ambition, not to mention this idea his meta should take him along on expensive trips...? It's not like B is making $250K a year!

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.

I'd say, let A feel bad. If they break up with YOU, or start to fuss about going mono, just because you get to go on trips, that shows their character. Ideally it might motivate them to work harder and start earning more so they CAN go on fancier vacations. Asking B to gift A would be counterproductive!

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.

Feeling guilty because your partner is whiny about not being able to afford trips, while they don't do anything to earn more money, is a problem. Maybe A is using YOU. Maybe you are letting A use you. Look inside yourself. Why are you enabling this behavior?
 

DaisyF92

New member
Thank you everyone for putting this into perspective!

Well I didn’t directly ask B if they’d pay for A to come along... I said something like, A mentioned feeling envious of the trips and might like to come along on our next one. And I don’t agree with mooching either. I am working hard for my degree and know it will pay off. And when I am on trips with B, I often pay for meals or activities to even it out a bit. I know they don’t make all that much either...

And I guess I’m a way I am starting to become fearful of the future and slightly annoyed that myself and B will likely be the “breadwinners”.
I love A very much, but for lack of a better word, they are a bit lazy. They don’t clean very much and create more than half of the mess in the home (B is kind of a neat freak and ends up cleaning after A, which I also feel bad for and try to help).

I just don’t know what to do. We were engaged before B came along, but now I’m wondering if marrying A is the right move. If I have children with both partner A and B, I worry that myself and B will become solely responsible for providing for them, and possibly only B if I can’t work during pregnancy or illness.

I hate letting money become a factor in my relationships. Thank you for your help everyone. I’ll try to not let Partner A’s moods let me feel guilty.
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Staff member
Hello Daisy,

I guess the first thing you have to do is, ask yourself, is Partner A worth having around, even if they don't contribute much in the way of work or money. What qualities does Partner A have that do make them worth having around? Do those qualities make up for their lack of ambition? This is something you have to decide. Because I don't think Partner A is going to change. They are always going to be lazy (with an income to match).

If you do decide that A is worth having around, then I suppose your next move is to sit down with A and say to them, "Honey, I want very much to take you on fancy trips with me, it's just that I can't afford it yet. And, B can't afford to splurge on us both. Can I ask, would you be willing to just hang in there for a couple of years? because after I get done with school, then I'll start making more money, and you and I can start going on trips together."

If A is worth it. You decide.
Regards,
Kevin T.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
I love A very much, but for lack of a better word, they are a bit lazy. They don’t clean very much and create more than half of the mess in the home (B is kind of a neat freak and ends up cleaning after A, which I also feel bad for and try to help).

Sounds like A needs to get it together with cleaning their fair share.

I just don’t know what to do. We were engaged before B came along, but now I’m wondering if marrying A is the right move.

Well, a successful engagement period ends in one of two ways to me.

1) The couple thinks long and hard and does all the talks. Take the marriage prep class at their house of worship, online, extension office, etc. They decide they are NOT deeply compatible and end the engagement. They do NOT get married. Small win for both -- because ending engagement is cheaper than paying for a weddding and a divorce later down.

2) The couple thinks long and hard and does all the talks. Take the marriage prep class at their house of worship, online, extension office, etc. They decide they ARE deeply compatible and end the engagement period because they plan to get married. NOW they start planning a wedding. Win for both because they know what they are getting into, have something of a plan, have confirmed they have shared values, etc.

I often see people just jump to wedding planning without doing the work of Engagement. I don't know why they do that. They are caught up in wedding party stuff like outfits and DJs and menus... but not putting the same or more energy planning the marital union.

I think it goes better over all for the couples who do the marriage prep classes and REALLY consider what marriage means.

If I have children with both partner A and B, I worry that myself and B will become solely responsible for providing for them, and possibly only B if I can’t work during pregnancy or illness.

Well, that is a risk.

I hate letting money become a factor in my relationships.

Love may be infinite, but resources of time, energy, finances, gas, distance, and more are not. We all have to work within our own scope.

Thank you for your help everyone. I’ll try to not let Partner A’s moods let me feel guilty.

Good.

Galagirl
 
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vinsanity0

Active member
Then don't make it a factor. Focus on what is really going on, what is at the root of all the money talk. This is not about money at all.

I agree. A's lack of money is a byproduct of his personality traits. I think you are finding some of those traits to be unattractive. You don't owe A a marriage just because you met him first.
 

JaneQSmythe

Active member
I guess the first thing you have to do is, ask yourself, is Partner A worth having around, even if they don't contribute much in the way of work or money. What qualities does Partner A have that do make them worth having around? Do those qualities make up for their lack of ambition? This is something you have to decide. Because I don't think Partner A is going to change. They are always going to be lazy (with an income to match).

This.

I would advise against marrying (perhaps even living with or staying with) someone with the expectation that they are going to change. People can (and do) grow and change - but that has to come from within themselves (and, largely, FOR themselves).

My boys are both lazy slackers (with incomes to match) but I love them and they take care of me in ways that I appreciate. This is not to say that I don’t sometimes get angry and frustrated when things don’t get done - I do. But I also recognize that this is a situation that I have chosen for myself. (We do not have children, or my choices would likely have looked very different.)

I earn the income and take care of all of the finances (bills, savings, planning) and they take care of literally everything else (except my laundry, I do that myself, since I do need clothes to wear to work! :eek:). If they don’t do it, then it doesn’t get done - which can make me grouchy, but I am sure as hell not going to do it myself. If I want to go on vacation and take one or both of them, then I do (I tell them what I want, they do the planning and the legwork and I make sure we have the funds to cover it.)

That all being said, I agree with the other posters are saying with regards to A wanting to travel too. If he really wanted to, he could work on improving his financial situation and paying his own way or tighten his belt and save up. (If the boys want to take a trip that I am not a part of then they have to save up and pay for it out of their “fun money” - which means giving up other things, or come up with a gig to generate some cash.)

Just my two cents.

JaneQ

Afterthought: It occurs to me that there are times that I do volunteer to treat metamours (or even just friends), usually this is for a concert or other event in the city that we have bought extra tickets for. Often we will want to go out to a nice restaurant or bar and since we invited them to come with us, we will treat - because spending time with them makes the outing more enjoyable for us and I don’t want people to feel pressured to spend money that they can’t afford.

In turn those same people often invite us over for dinner or gatherings at their homes (pre-COVID) which is something we DON’T do.
 

ToniO

New member
Hello Daisy! My situation is somewhat the same as yours. My partner and I have quite considerably different salaries. It can sometimes be complicated as well, and we don't live in a poly-household like you. So I definitely can understand where you come from. Before I met my current partner, I thought these finance questions were somehow insignificant, but now I realize they really are not. It can really put a strain on relationships.

I suppose all relationships, monogamous or non-monogamous, all have to work and decide their finances individually. Just between monogamous relationships there are considerable differences in terms of how this topic is managed. Some couples share everything, while others keep finances completely separate. In the end, I suppose there is no right, or simple, answer to this.

I think that the style and situation of a relationship probably gives some general guidelines on how this topic is dealt with on average. Some poly relationships have just two person under one roof, and others live elsewhere. On the other hand, in some cases more than two people live in the same household, and perhaps are all romantically involved with each other. The more established a relationship is, I think the more finances are shared.

I'm not sure if you already mentioned if A and B are romantically involved with one another. If not, I guess it makes sharing finances a little less common. In any case, you all live together so I think a good idea is at least to balance out the bigger 'normal' expenses in life, such as housing, food and so on. That's what we do as well, as I pay much greater portion of our expenses.

Can B be forced to pay more than A on these expenses? No. But as I said, all relationships have to decide their own position on this. If household members would have considerably different salaries, but wouldn't balance it out in any way, I think I would find living in that kind of relationship quite uncomfortable as well. Households, indeed families, are usually there to support one another.

I agree with what was written earlier that you shouldn't feel bad about trips with your other partner. In the end, quality of the relationship isn't defined by how well off you are anyway. Whilst in my current relationship our income difference is bigger than in any of my previous relationships, I'm happier than ever.

I guess what I want to say with this rant is that don't feel bad about spending more money with the other partner but do talk about finances as well and if you should somehow balance out the bigger expenses.

Thank you for this interesting topic. Looking forward to more opinions.

Best, Toni
 
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