In a perfect world, married couples should equally share household responsibilities and be able to rely on each other to get things done. In reality, it's common to struggle with a partner who can't seem to fulfill his end of the bargain. If your husband has a habit of procrastinating on his duty to pay the household bills, the situation is both frustrating and emotionally taxing. Deal with both sides of the problem to help restore harmony.
1. The Emotional Side
Before dealing with the practical aspects of the bill-paying issue, spend a little time together addressing the emotional problems related to it. Understanding the root of your partner’s procrastination will allow you to see things from his point of view. This should not only lessen your frustration, but bring the two of you closer. It's likely that you are feeling frustrated and anxious about your husband's inability to pay bills on time and will need to impress upon him the difficult and painful situation he's putting you in by neglecting his responsibility, but do so carefully and gently to help avoid unnecessary hurt feelings and arguments. At the same time, however, you must address the question of why he routinely pays bills late. Determine whether he simply has difficulty keeping track of dates and remembering the task, or if he might also have some anxiety and discomfort around financial issues that causes him to subconsciously shirk the duty.
2. Help From Technology
Look over your finances, the companies you pay bills to and your financial institution. Set up automatic bill paying through the companies or through your bank or credit union for as many bills as you can. If you use a calendar program online or through a smartphone, set up alarmed reminders for the days that bills are due. Though you may still have some bills that can't be handled this way, do what you can to remove as much of the bill-paying stress as possible.
3. Working Together
Agree to help your husband with the bill paying responsibilities in the near future while he develops better habits and awareness. Write down the due dates of all the regularly occurring bills in a place where it will be visible to both of you, such as a white board or refrigerator. When a due date is close, ask him if he's taken care of the bill. Choose times of the day and week when he will agree that if he hasn't paid a certain bill that's nearly due, he will stop what he's doing and tend to it.
4. Taking Over
Consider whether it might work out better if you were in charge of the bills instead of your husband. If so, consider a switch of household tasks and responsibilities where he does more in some other area, perhaps taking over a chore that you regularly do. Make sure that whatever arrangement you make, it's equal in terms of both time commitment and stress. Once you've made the switch, talk to your husband about the financial situation and bills on a regular basis so that he's informed and may be able to better handle things in the future.
- Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It; Jane B. Burka, Lenora M. Yuen.
- Progressive Change: The Productive Uses of Human Qualities; Ahmed Sita.
- Rosen.com: "Is Your Procrastinating Spouse Hurting Your Marriage"?
- Michael Blann/Photodisc/Getty Images