Dear Annie, Mark lost his job three months ago, just after we moved in together. He has limited savings and is now at the point where he can’t afford to pay for his share of our expenses.He had a good job when we met. We dated for eight months before merging households. He seemed to be a hard worker. He was loyal and reliable. He never took a day off from work, not even when he was sick.

He is clearly enjoying his time off. He said that he has worked all of his life and wanted to relax for a while. That was fine with me as long as he pulled his own financial weight.

After I insisted, he reluctantly agreed to search for work. This consists of him spending about an hour each day on job-search websites. He rarely sends out his resume because the jobs that he qualifies for don’t pay as well as his old job and he doesn’t want to work for less money.

I know that the loss of his job was a shock to him, but I’d rather not continue to support him. How can I get him to take his job search seriously? Adele

I understand why Mark might want to take time off and relax. It would make sense if he could afford to do so. At this point, he’s in a situation where he can’t pay for his costs of living without your financial backing, which he couldn’t have obtained without your consent.

Let’s face it: no one except the IRS can force you to spend your money unless they have your permission. It’s up to each couple to negotiate how they agree to share financial responsibilities.Some couples believe that all income belongs equally to both members. Others set aside a portion of their income for mutual expenses and keep the remainder separate.

In either case, a member of a couple might feel that it’s reasonable to assume that their partner will act as their financial safety net when the other person’s contribution falls short.You may very well question Mark’s financial intentions, as you just moved in together after a moderately short courtship.

When you and Mark moved in together, did you have an understanding of how you were splitting expenses and responsibilities? If so, revisit your agreement to see how it was designed to work under your present circumstances.If you didn’t do so, you need to create one right now, even though he’s not working. Bite the bullet and prepare to take the time to negotiate what is fair for both of you.

For the short-term, if it works for your budget, it’s OK to allow Mark to owe you money that you have paid on his behalf. I suggest that you set a firm time and dollar limit to extending him credit.