Patricia Redlich

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My Husband Ran Up Massive Debt

3rd January, 2010

Shortly before Christmas my husband confessed to me that he had run up massive credit card debt, which he tried to cover with a personal loan, which he was also having problems trying to pay. He has also cleared out our joint savings account in an attempt to resolve matters. This all came as a complete surprise to me as we have no new goods or assets to show for it and lead a very ordinary life. My husband is home every evening, and never misses work. And as far as I can see, he doesn't have any addiction issues like porn, gambling, drink, or drugs.

He maintains that it was a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, using one credit card to pay another. He has agreed to letting me see all his financial statements for the past two years. Until I get the bank statements to examine, I have to believe the best of him and hope this was a mess which just got out of control. Meanwhile he's also agreed to put all his income into my bank account, which will service all our household bills. We have also decided to re-mortgage the house in order to stop interest accruing on the credit cards. I have tried hard to keep a level head and sort out the practical problems first.

Initially I read the riot act. I was very upset, as financial security is very important to me. However, my husband was so upset and genuinely sorry that I spent the next two weeks reassuring him that I didn't think any the less of him. I also felt it was only money, and if he had taken his own life in despair because of the situation, it would have been so much worse. But then came the hammer blow. I had steadily put aside some savings for the children, money given to them by grandparents and things like that. It wasn't much, but when I went to get it yesterday, it was gone. I am devastated and can no longer see a way forward. I suppose I thought there was some excuse for my husband taking our money, but to take from  money set aside for the children is pretty close to unforgivable.

We are not yet in financial trouble, so it's not financial ruin I'm afraid of. My husband's money troubles didn't happen overnight. He has lied to me for over two years, and taken money which did not belong to him. I now find it hard to believe anything he tells me. He is a good kind gentle person and I love him dearly. But I don't know how we can go on from here. We get on well and enjoy each other's company, and I don't want to lose all that. But trust and security mean a lot to me and I don't see how I can go on sharing my life with someone who can give me neither.


Don't lose heart. You're a good and loving wife and perhaps most importantly of all, you are kind. Hang onto that. At the moment you're just feeling desperately disappointed that the moves you made weren't enough. Don't be. You're on a learning curve. You handled most of the angles just right. You will manage this.

Most people fail to make a full and frank confession. Misguided of course, but there you are. The children's money was probably already gone when your husband told you of his debts. My guess is he knew you'd be disgusted, so he held his tongue, in the vain hope that he'd somehow get away with it more lightly. Instead, it's looming as the proverbial straw which broke the camel's back. Yet truly, the children's money is a side issue. You allowed your husband off the hook on a far more fundamental issue. You allowed him to dodge explaining what he'd done.

You don't say what sum was involved, but re-mortgaging the house has to mean something substantial. So why did you settle for a mystery about the money? Why did you let your husband slide out of telling you the truth? I can't, of course, make a diagnosis from here, but I imagine anyone you asked would plump for gambling, until proven otherwise. Why did you dismiss this possibility so lightly? It only takes minutes to gamble away small fortunes. So why did you dismiss this possibility so lightly? And why are you doing the homework on his accounts? Yes, I know you're going to see all his bank and credit card statements, which is good.  But why isn't your husband reconciling them so you can see where the money went? Why would you accept that he doesn't know?

From where I'm sitting, your husband is behaving like an addict. He has lied to you for two years about money, ran up serious debt, and claimed it just happened. He stole from you and the children. He says he's sorry, but is not taking responsibility. He didn't even come to you with a plan on how to proceed. Instead, you had to take charge. Something has such a pull on him that he's abandoned basic morals. And in the face of all that, you've spent time consoling him, reassuring him that you don't think any less of him. Why? I mean it's not even true. You must think less of someone you can no longer trust, someone who is behaving in an immature and dishonest fashion. The very least he must accept is your deep disappointment in him. Instead you nurse his ego.

Kindness can, and indeed must be, combined with clarity of thought. So must love. You do your husband no favours by sweeping reality under the carpet. Which is why it's good that the children's money is gone. It was a much-needed wake-up call for you. Precisely because you do have a tender and loving heart, you were in grave danger of colluding with your husband's gross irresponsibility. No, I'm not saying you should be harsh. Yes, it is good that he came and confided in you. Yes, this is definitely something you should handle together. Success, however, depends on facing facts. Your husband needs to take responsibility for his actions, and get help. And that's what you have to ask of him.
Irish based professional therapist and journalist. Website By : Deise Design