'My Partner Owes Me A Year's Worth Of Rent'

"How can I let go of this resentment to give our relationship a chance?”
Maria Korneeva via Getty Images

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Speaking about money in any relationship can be a little awkward. Who pays on the first date? Do you believe in 50/50? Are you frugal or do you like to splash out? We can learn a lot from our partner by speaking to them about their money habits.

This week’s reader, Samantha, got in touch because her partner owes her a large amount of money.

“Me and my partner met in my hometown but he wasn’t happy and wanted to move closer to his family. So I made that happen. I found a house and paid for the first year’s rent,” Samantha says.

“He hasn’t attempted to pay me back some of the money I spent moving house. In fact, I bring it up almost every time we have a disagreement. How can I let go of this resentment to give our relationship a chance?”

A year’s worth of rent isn’t a small amount of money and it seems like Samantha assumed her partner would pay her back. How should she handle this issue?

What would you say to this person?

Counselling Directory member Carley Symes believes resentment can grow when we’ve compromised in area’s we aren’t actually happy compromising in, which she thinks might be the case for Samantha.

“Did you want to move away from your hometown?” Symes asks. “Were you happy to move away in exchange for a relationship which now isn’t what you had pictured?

“Did you have a discussion about this before you ‘made it happen?’ Did your partner ask this of you, or did you jump in to make them happy? Was it agreed he would pay you back?”

Letting go of resentment requires us to communicate and lay out our boundaries, Symes says. “It needs negotiation and a willingness on both sides to work towards balance. Is this something both of you want to do?

“Is there a pattern in your relationship of you stepping in to make their desires happen without actually asking and approaching things jointly? If it is, this needs to be addressed or resentment will re-grow quickly.”

Why is it difficult to speak about money in relationships?

Symes believes that money represents different things to different people. “It speaks to your values, beliefs about the world and other people, your future, security and resources,” she adds. “All these things are tied to your feelings, so talking about it can bring up these emotions, particularly if you and your partner have differing views.”

She continues: “It can also reveal things we may not like about ourselves, like impulsivity or hoarding – money security or spending reflects our anxiety.”

There might be things that we don’t want our partners to see due to fear of judgement. “Or even that they will try to stop us using money the way we want to,” Symes adds. “All of these things keep us avoiding the topic of money.”

Still, Symes says it is “so important to keep that line of communication open- talk about money with your partner!”

How can this reader communicate that she would like her money back?

Symes recommends not waiting until you’re already arguing to talk about money. When this happens we’re usually already stressed and not communicating the best. “It can feel good to unleash feelings this way, but it’s rarely productive,” she says.

“Think about how you want to ask for your money back when you’re feeling calm and alone – construct what you would like to say from the present moment and not with all the feelings from other issues or past wounds involved.”

Symes emphasis that Samantha should “explain you would like to take some time to talk this through because it’s important to you, and arrange a time and location where you’re in neutral space and unlikely to be interrupted”.

“Then lay out your boundaries – what do you need, when do you need it (try to focus on what is reasonable and also won’t grow your resentment), how you would like it and what it would mean to you,” she adds. “Be clear with what the impact is if you can’t resolve this and what your actions will be then.”

Love Stuck is for those who’ve hit a romantic wall, whether you’re single or have been coupled up for decades. With the help of trained sex and relationship therapists, HuffPost UK will help answer your dilemmas. Submit a question here.

Rebecca Zisser/HuffPost UK