My husband wants to use my inheritance for his start-up. Am I right to refuse?

Dear A&E,

I got married last summer and shortly after that my mother died. My husband, who recently lost his job, is starting a home gym installation company. He has asked to use my £20,000 inheritance to get started and was offended when I refused. For me it is security for our future. He argues that his new business will be our security and that it’s “our money,” not mine. He can’t understand why I don’t participate and says it’s because I don’t believe in him. If I’m honest, I don’t have full confidence. He has a history of trying things and then moving on to the next. I don’t know how to protect my heritage and not offend him. – Battle

dear fighters,

Well, you’re under an awful lot of pressure, aren’t you? The first year of marriage is notoriously tough, and on top of the already complicated settling-in process, the universe has thrown at you heartache, money, unemployment, a new business: a plethora of hurdles. Not to mention a pandemic. You would expect to navigate this rainbow of experiences over the course of a marriage, yet you are dealing with an immediate assault course. Acknowledge that anyone would fight.

We are concerned that your husband’s enthusiasm for – and confidence in – his new business may translate into bullying behavior. You’re still grieving, so his nagging feels inappropriate at best, cruel and disrespectful at worst. But money has a habit of making even the most measured and compassionate of us feel a little weird.

We understand your uneasiness when he declares your inheritance to be “our money,” so let’s just state that’s not the case. It’s your money, you can do whatever you want with it.

Our advice would be to separate personal money and professional money – where else does it all end? If you throw the money at him, you risk making your life super messy and increasing the pressure to unbearable, suffocating levels. You would tie your family’s entire future to this company and eliminate any window of salvation. And while it’s not a life-changing amount of money, it’s substantial enough to merit nurturing and cultivation. If you decide to give him this money, you need to get equity in the company and keep abreast of what’s happening with the business. They will be life and work partners. But in your heart you have to pretend it was never yours. Or the pressure will grow, and it will grow rapidly.

While he understandably struggles with the possibility that you don’t believe in him, most new ventures don’t succeed, and as you say, he’s had previous ones. Perhaps it would be wiser for him to test his idea on the appropriate forum and turn to independent experts who can advise him and afford to lose it – unlike you.

The bottom could fall out of the home gym market through no fault of his own. What you’re really doing – with your caution – is giving him the freedom to pursue this project. By saving that money or investing it for the future, you give it wings. They please him whether he wins or loses. My husband wants to use my inheritance for his start-up. Am I right to refuse?

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