Should she ask her husband’s permission to buy a new dress?

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A question that appeared in one of the Shabbat leaflets I read: “My sister is getting married. I want a new dress for the weddin, but my husband says we can’t afford it. He manages all our finances so I kind of don’t know if it’s true. What should I do?”

The answer (in many more words) was approximately, “Try to explain to him how important this is to you, but if he still says no, submit to his opinion.”

Oh boy. So much to unpack here. I see at least two big problems with the situation above.

I don’t know the financial situation of this family and I don’t know what type of dress she wants to buy. If it’s a super expensive designer dress, then maybe “can’t afford it” is a thing. But if she just wants something new to wear, she can find cute dresses at about $50.

And if she has to ask permission to spend $50, then, Houston, we have a problem.

Whether she works and earns money or not, if she and her husband are on a footing of a daddy and his teenage girl who’s begging for some spending money, it’s not a real marriage partnership. When two adults are married and manage a household together, neither of them should beg and plead to buy a dress or a pair of shoes.

Does this husband, I wonder, consult his wife when he buys a new toolbox or a gadget for his car? Somehow my guess is that he doesn’t. So that’s the first problem.

The second, and perhaps more serious one, is that she has no idea what goes on with their finances. She doesn’t know how much money they have or how much is too much to spend.

Maybe she entered this arrangement willingly because she doesn’t like to handle money, finds bills and taxes tedious, etc. Entirely understandable. But this, again, puts her in a childlike position, depending on Daddy’s discretion.

The other possibility is even more sinister. This woman may have been manipulated and gaslit to such a degree that she no longer trusts her judgment regarding whether their budget can support a new dress.

Either way, I think the advice she got was stupid and dangerous. It confirms her situation of dependence, and it ignores the very real possibility of something bad going on.

If I could speak to this woman, here’s what I would say: it’s totally normal to have role division. It’s normal for one spouse to do the lion’s share of bills and bank account statements. But since you are an adult, you should still have at least some idea of your finances and how much money you have in the bank. Otherwise, you are making yourself extremely vulnerable in an event that, say, the husband gets sick and can no longer handle the finances.

Second, if you can’t spend $50 at your discretion, raise a giant alarm, because something here isn’t right.


Author: Anna

An Orthodox Jewish wife and mother enjoying a simple life with her family and chickens, somewhere in the hills, in Israel.

9 thoughts on “Should she ask her husband’s permission to buy a new dress?”

  1. Those are some very good points. Here is another reason to not leave financial planning entirely to your husband; if the husband is the only one managing the finances, how do you know he is doing a good job? Years ago I read a book called “Smart Women Finish Rich” by David Bach. He wrote this book about financial planning for women because he knew so many women, his mother included, who trusted their husbands with their finances (and the husbands probably had good intentions) only to find out too late that their husbands didn’t actually know what they were doing. When they passed away, the women found out their husbands had not sufficiently planned for them and they were left in poverty. David Bach compares it with the stereotype of men not wanting to ask for directions when driving and saying there is the same issue with them often not wanting to ask for help in figuring out financial matters. In fact, Mr. Bach said once women get involved in their finances, they tend to make better decisions than men because they are not afraid to ask questions and do research.


    1. That’s an idea, Karen. I might copy this blog post and send it to the editor. I usually wouldn’t interfere, but in this case it seems that the advisor is missing some glaring red flags.


  2. Boy! Does this sound as if it was written by me when I was married to my first husband – AKA the Late and Unlamented. When we got back from our honeymoon I asked about going to the back and getting a joint checking account. He looked at me as if I’d grown a second head! “I never heard of such a thing!” “Well, your mother always was crazy.” I certainly had – my parents had a joint account for their entire marriage. And things went downhill from there. Anything I needed – and I mean anything – I had to ask for and justify. And yes, he died a natural death.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahaha! I had to chuckle at the “yes, he died a natural death” 😂
      With a very controlling person, I actually think separate accounts could work best to reduce nagging and interrogations about money. But of course, the wife would need to work at least part time to have money for her private expenses.


      1. I did get a job and had my own, personal, don’t-you-touch-it, checking account. It was a source of great pride to me that I took care of all the expenses for my children and myself. The Squire and I do have joint accounts. I kept my original and put him on it, and he did the same for me. Best of both worlds.

        Liked by 1 person

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