Do husbands and wives hold veto power?

by Erika Torres

*since it’s not coming across in the post based on the comments, I wanted to update to say that this post is 50% serious, 50% joke. make of that what you will : ) *

I am on the verge, like seriously thisclose, to enacting my veto power.

What is veto power? It means I can stop my husband from doing something because I am strongly, strongly against it.

Like a true leader who cares about their subjects (in this case, my husband), you want to reserve your veto power only for the most exceptional of cases.

For example, I have vetoed my husband from applying for any jobs outside of southern California.

For a time, I was willing to relocate anywhere (remember that trip to Seattle? It was for a job interview), but now I make pretty good money at my current job, have excellent benefits, and they’re paying for my graduate school so I can’t exactly leave. Therefor, from this point on, I have vetoed my husband from applying outside of this area because it wouldn’t be fair to me to have to leave my excellent job.

I am now considering vetoing my husband’s exercise routine.

Yes, I do not want my husband to exercise.

Let me explain.

Last April, Eric ended up injuring his back while playing soccer and could not work for about 4-5 weeks. Because of his rank, Eric does not receive pay if he doesn’t work. At the time, we had just moved and had spent almost all our savings on the deposit. I was so stressed out and was working double time on the side to cover his lack of paycheck.

Yesterday, Eric pulled a muscle while exercising at the gym. So he had to call in sick to work today.

When Eric works four 24-hour shifts, instead of the normal five 24-hour shifts per pay cycle, it results in a monthly loss of $600 due to the way the overtime works (120 hours vs. 96 hours).

$600 is a crucial amount of money to us.

I understand that Eric didn’t get hurt on purpose, but every time he gets injured, I’m the one that figuratively and literally has to pay for it.

I’ve already covered for when he was in the fire academy full-time, when he injured his back in April, and now a pulled muscle. On top of that, I also work a full-time job and am freelancing on the side to pay off debt and save money. I think it’s fair to say that I’ve done my part.

All I’m asking is that Eric contribute his fair share too, and in order to make sure that he doesn’t miss anymore work, I want to veto any extracurricular exercise that could cause him to get injured.

Not only does an injury mean he doesn’t get paid, but it could also hurt his prospects of getting hired at a full-time firefighter position.

Granted, I am very frustrated with the current situation. I completely understand his injuries have not been intentional, but I am getting a little tired of having to cover his slack. Every time he gets injured, I have to work harder. And since I manage the budget, it’s easy for Eric to just say “oh well” while I’m left scrambling how to pay for bills to make up for his loss in income. I think it’s time for some tough love.

Am I overreacting and taking it too far? Should I be more sympathetic?
What would you do?

I’ve been told that I need to work on being more compassionate, but I think it’s a little hard to be compassionate when you’re the one consistently getting gypped.

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Elizabeth @ Broke Professionals January 20, 2013 - 5:05 pm

I totally agree with the “veto” power on the job search, but I’m not so sure about the exercise routine. ALthough obviously, his body is vulnerable to injury these days, so he really should ameliorate it on his own.

I’d add having kids to the veto power, too, for what it’s worth!

Christne January 19, 2013 - 8:20 am

Haha. We have “veto” power in our house but it’s mostly mine and it mostly applies to spending. After a couple *ahem* unfortunate incidents, my husband has realized that I’m much more objective about spending than he is and he, in so many words, asks permission before he makes a big purchase. (Even if it’s using ‘his’ money.)

Reading that makes me sound a bit like a control freak but honestly my husband realizes that if I’m SUPER against a certain purchase it’s probably because it’s frivolous, expensive, and/or useless. Like the time he bought an $800 exhaust for his car after I told him I didn’t think it was a good idea and he told me he would wait and save for it…And then he put it on a credit card. I almost LOST. MY. MIND.

So yeah, we have veto power in our house. 😉

Lisa @ Lisa the Vegetarian January 18, 2013 - 7:41 am

This is definitely a difficult situation. Losing $600 from a missed day at work is a lot to handle, and I can see where you’re coming from on this. I would be just as frustrated and upset as you are about the situation. I do agree that husbands and wives should be able to hold veto power over certain things (and in fact my boyfriend and I have used veto power before and we’re not even married yet!). Hopefully between the two of you, you’ll be able to come up with a compromise!

Teacher Girl January 17, 2013 - 5:48 pm

Maybe it’s because I’m not married, or even in a relationship right now, but I found this post funny. Obviously you are simply concerned about your husband and your finances, as you SHOULD be. I think some people are overreacting and taking the “veto” thing to mean “power.”

jobo January 17, 2013 - 1:07 pm

Ugh! Well, I do feel bad that he keeps getting injured and DO agree with your points about you picking up the slack and it costing you literally, when this happens. I also know your tone of voice and how you are and that this is 50/50 in terms of serious/joke, so with all of that being said, while I agree exercise is good, maybe what is happening when he works out is doing too much or that he has a weak back or something that keeps causing injury. So yes, he should stop working out till he fixes his back and goes to the doctor or something to make sure the injury isn’t a reoccurring one or something! and just go easy on it for awhile! XO!

Kathleen, Frugal Portland January 17, 2013 - 9:46 am

ABSOLUTELY you have veto power, but alas, so does he. 🙂

Lea January 17, 2013 - 7:36 am

Haha! My mom once said she didn’t understand how exercise could be so good if everyone she knows who does it is constantly getting injured.

I feel your pain too in a slightly different way – I have a baby of a husband who pretty much thinks he’s dying if he catches the common cold. Because he works shift work, if he doesn’t go in, he doesn’t get paid either. He’s gotten better over the years, but even when he’s legit sick, I still get a little mad at him internally for not going in and bringing home a full paycheck! I know that I’m blessed with a job that has better benefits, including tons of sick days, so I keep my mouth shut, but still… irks me once in awhile!

Army Amy* January 17, 2013 - 4:15 am

I kind of love this topic! My husband and I agreed a while back that if one of us wanted to buy something that costs more than $X, we’d consult each other and decide together. Technically, one of us could veto the other, but it doesn’t come up that often. (Although, he’s convinced he needs to buy a crazy gun with the gun legislation coming down the pipe.)

It’s a little harder for me to say no now that he has been deployed. I feel like it’s his money too and he earned it the worst way possible. I’m really hoping he doesn’t keep pushing the gun issue because I don’t want to say no but I don’t want to say yes!*

Budget & the Beach January 16, 2013 - 9:49 pm

I was kind of chuckling reading as I think I get where your’e coming from. Like, dude, what’s up with that?? Its kind of hard to to say no to your husband wanting to stay active and healthy, but his job does require a lot of physical demand, so perhaps he needs to stretch more…warm up more? Less impact sports like swimming? 🙂

Holly@Clubthrifty January 16, 2013 - 5:38 pm

I veto shit all the time. Every marriage is different and some things are acceptable in some marriages and not in others. Do what works for you!

FishFlakes January 16, 2013 - 4:10 pm

Veto, definitely veto.

At the very least ask him to change what he does to low impact (Swimming, for example).

Yes, fate can be scary and unpredictable and he could get hurt in a billion other ways, but that doesn’t mean that you have to help it along.

If he was permanently injured, what would he do instead? Are you prepared for him to have to switch careers or go back to school? He has proven that his exercise routine is causing harm to himself, and as a result is harming your family. Something needs to change, and as the person who has to bear this burden, there is nothing wrong with trying to initiate the change.

Accidents happen, I am not trying to say that they don’t. However, if you had taken up a hobby that was causing you to become sick and require that he work twice as hard to make up the difference, I’m sure that he would want you to stop or cutback.

Respect your partner, but don’t be a doormat. Don’t be the maternal savior in the relationship. If everything and everyone in your life depends on you to hold it up, then that creates a stressful environment that you don’t need. Marriage is a partnership, it’s equal and you both have to make decisions that will make it work.

eemusings January 16, 2013 - 3:50 pm

In truth, I have veto power in our household. I am CEO (ultimately although T used his own savings for his tattoo last month for example, he wouldn’t have done it without my OK and went back and forth with me discussing it for ages).

I can understand your frustration. T doesn’t go to the gym but he and his friends often get quite physical (either playing sports casually or fighting/wrestling) and he often gets hurt. occasionally this means he has to take a day off work or ends up coming home early. More recently, he’s had a string of weird health issues (mostly to do with his eyes) that have seen him take unpaid time off. Grr.

CeCe @Frugalista Married January 16, 2013 - 1:56 pm

It’s a good thing that he’s interested in staying fit. He could get in a car accident or injure himself in any number of ways in life. As long as he’s not being careless or doing anything extreme like flag football or rugby where your odds of injury are high I don’t think it’s fair to veto exercise. It’s exercise. It’s life. I do think your veto of him applying outside of So Cali is fair enough though and I’d say it’s more of a decision about what’s in your best interest as a couple. You getting school paid for, good benefits and good pay is of benefit to both of you. Right now, you are in the position where you have to pick up the slack when things go wrong but hopefully he’ll get to a point in his career where you won’t have to be that person anymore and it will be your loving support and sacrifice that helped get him there.

CeCe @Frugalista Married January 16, 2013 - 2:44 pm

Oh, I just have to say this. One of the most beautiful things about my husband is how selfless he is. He never keeps score and sometimes I have a tendency to do that and I don’t like that about myself. Seeing the way he is has made me do it less and when you don’t keep score about who’s doing what and who screwed up this or that it somehow just makes you feel definitely less bitter about things but also that much closer as a couple. : )

Tanner January 16, 2013 - 1:22 pm

This is one of those posts where your honesty is slightly scary to me. Has he ‘veto’ed you before? How would you feel/react if he veto’ed something you are really strongly for? Like freelancing, because he thinks that it is using up all of your time? Just an example.

How about instead of banning him from exercising, you make him build up enough savings somehow (by sacrificing something that would be of his… lunch money with the guys or less number, less fancier dinner dates?), to cover in case he does get injured. I mean, he may have gotten injured at the gym, but what if he takes on jogging and falls down a ditch, and heavens forbid, breaks his leg? Injuries can happen anywhere, at any time… perhaps providing him with alternatives would be another solution. Buy him an at-home affordable exercise machine HE likes, but that is safer and easier on him.

newlywedsonabudget January 16, 2013 - 1:54 pm

haha. I realize sometimes when I write that my sarcasm and melodramatics don’t always come out as well in the written form. I’m not actually “vetoing” him from exercising. It all stemmed from a conversation we had last night where I said he really needs to be more careful and that if he doesn’t watch it, I will “veto” him from exercising. We were both smiling throughout the convo, but yes i was half-joking, half-serious, because we really can’t afford for him to keep getting injured.

I think he decided to take it a little bit more easy and ease up on his routine until he is at least secured a full-time firefighter position

Akirah January 16, 2013 - 12:24 pm

My short answer is this: no.

Here’s my long answer: You do not get to veto Eric from doing pretty much anything. He’s a grown man and can make whatever decisions he chooses in regards to how he lives his life.

That’s not to say you cannot communicate your feelings and opinions to him. You should certainly do that! And as your partner, it is expected that he will take your feelings and thoughts into consideration when he makes decisions. And I’m certain he will be more willing to do that when you are expressing yourself in calm, rational, loving ways.

But words like “veto” or “power” are really unhealthy to use in regards to relationships. I mean, the idea of exercising power or control over your partner is pretty much the definition of partner abuse. Of course, I don’t think you’re an abusive wife…that’s not what I’m saying AT ALL…but hopefully you get my point.

That’s the mystery of marriage…figuring out how to stay true to our individual selves without damaging the other person or the marriage. Through effective, respectful communication you should be able to figure it all out. But I don’t think vetoes align well with a healthy marriage.

And of course there are times when you have to make sacrifices for the other person and the relationship. So it makes sense that Eric wouldn’t look for jobs outside your current area because your job is pretty damn good! I’m not going to look for jobs outside of Pittsburgh because my husband owns a restaurant here. But if he ever said to me that I couldn’t do this or do that regarding my impending job search…well, that wouldn’t go over too well. We don’t get to demand things of each other. We can expect things from each other…but we don’t get to demand them. We can submit to each other too…but we don’t get to demand things from each other.

I’m not saying any of this in judgment either…because I totally feel you! I wish so badly my husband ate better. I worry about his health sometimes. But I don’t get to tell him what to eat…even though I want to sometimes. The opposite of love isn’t hate…it’s control! Besides it means so much when he chooses to make healthy eating decisions on his own out of respect for me…and not because I force him to.

At any rate, I think Eric should exercise..cause exercise is a good thing! But he may need to alter his program a bit. Maybe he can do things that are less stressful to the body, like swimming or biking. I know the financial stress blows…but he can get hurt doing anything. There’s risk in all activities. Sometimes life isn’t about preventing shitty stuff from happening…cause you can’t really do that…but rather working with the ones you love to rise above the adversity of a shitty situation. Though you’re frustrated today, I have faith you guys can figure out whatever life has in store from you. Day by day, right?

newlywedsonabudget January 16, 2013 - 12:56 pm

oh i love you akirah! you’ve come so far from where you were less than three years ago, remember that? And you are absolutely right. I do admit that a lot of the times I write in very exaggerated and melodramatic tones, when really I myself know it’s in jest. I think this time I just felt I was at my wit’s end! Voice of reason, as always. You’re rocking your psychology courses, I’m assuming? ; )

SavvyFinancialLatina January 16, 2013 - 12:23 pm

Ahh I understand the frustration, but a marriage is a team designed to pull each other up whenever one of the partners is down. Who knows maybe in a couple of years you will have a baby and decide to stay at home for a couple months without pay, would you want Eric to be frustrated because he doesn’t think you are contributing financially? :/ Or perhaps you might get cancer and will be unable to work? I know this sounds extreme, and not really suitable to this situation. I’m just trying to not fuel your frustration.
I understand your frustration, believe me sometimes I feel this way because I earn way more than my hubby, and yet I always manage to spend less.

I think the best way to approach this is to explain to him how you feel. I.E. you having to work more, and hustling you butt to pay off loans, just the overall financial pressure.

newlywedsonabudget January 16, 2013 - 1:00 pm

It’s definitely easier to hope that in the future Eric will have to pull through for me in some way (although I don’t think the baby thing applies since it’s not like I’ll be having a child by myself and that is definitely a full-time job!) I have sometimes wondered how you handled it so well with your husband making such a smaller amount than you and yet spending more. I think I focus a lot on things being equal because I grew up with two younger brothers who I felt always got off easier, had less chores, and there was simply more pressure put on me. So I strive for equality even though I know in relationships it is a lot of give and take, I feel sometimes I give a lot more than I take.

Vieve January 16, 2013 - 11:40 am

I agree with the other commenters – he needs to exercise. It’s great that he’s exercising! Vetoing that is like vetoing his long term health. However, he does need to be responsible about it. I agree with the commenter who suggested he work out with a trainer. That would be really smart! And maybe you guys could do it together. There are trainers who do workouts in parks and stuff, even group workouts. You could quit the gym, and spend the savings on this type of program. And if you do it together, it might foster more of a team environment in your marriage. I can totally understand your frustration, but I also understand why yo

Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies January 16, 2013 - 10:53 am

I get the frustration, but I think pulling the veto card is just going to cause a fight here – at least that’s what would happen for us.

Instead, can you reframe it? “Hey honey, I’m really worried because you keep getting injured… what can you do to your workout routine so that it doesn’t knock you on your ass so much?” I think the mental reframing would be beneficial to both of you guys in this argument.

Eric January 16, 2013 - 10:50 am

Maybe I’ll start a side hustle blog!

J.Mill January 16, 2013 - 10:49 am

His job is physical, so it makes sense that he treat his body like a tool and take care of it.

That means working out, but not taking risks with working out. How about running and weight lifting reasonable amounts with a spotter instead of physical sports? Or working with a trainer to establish a safe routine.

I mean, if he were a trucker should he be doing donuts in his semi? Hell no.

His side hustle should be data entry (boring and sedentary) for income, recuperation and punishment! Haha!

Janelle January 16, 2013 - 10:41 am

I know you’re frustrated, but using your veto power like this is likely to breed resentment. Cutting out exercise completely is unrealistic. However, encouraging (insisting?) that he practice appropriate techniques to avoid or greatly limit future injuries seems appropriate. Was he lifting weights when the pulled muscle occured? Too much weight? Poor form? Trust me, I completely understand! I am married to a dedicated long distance runner who also has a very physically demanding job. In order to stay healthy for both he learned to not cut corners on warming up, cooling down, and stretching. We’ve agreed that if he hurts himself again from overtraining or just doing something that MIGHT have been avoided by taking better care of himself (and I am final authority on that issue), he’s going to be sweating through 12 bikram yoga classes with me during the 3 months after he is healed.

Shaba January 16, 2013 - 10:11 am

Agreed. It’s so easy to get injured doing just about anything, it doesn’t make sense to veto workouts. Especially since his job is so active.
I think it’ time for Eric to pick up some sort of side hustle. Maybe something he can do per diem so it won’t bother his fireman gig? I’m sure some of the other guys have second jobs. Or tell him to look at hospital jobs, registration/patient account reps often have opening for per diem employees. I did that job through college, it was great because I only worked when I could and as long as I did one weekend a month I could turn down shifts as needed.

Jessi January 16, 2013 - 10:01 am

I think vetoeing any extracurricular activity where he can get injured is a bit extreme. You can get injured doing ANYTHING. However, I think it is reasonable to say ‘no’ to activities that are very likely to cause injury- snow skiing for example. I would expect most firemen to work out at a gym though; it is a job they need to be in shape for. Not working out could have negative reprocussions to the job.

Have you suggested to him that he find some sort of side income that he can use to contribute to times he cannot work his regular job?

newlywedsonabudget January 16, 2013 - 10:05 am

I guess you have a point. He does need to stay in shape, I just get frustrated with the situation : )

Unfortunately, between his job, his firefighter reserve job, and going to school full-time, on top of studying for fire tests and preparing for job interviews, he doesn’t exactly have extra time to take on a side job. Which is why it would really help if he could just keep working at his regular job! : )


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