Should I Leave My Husband - Watertown,MA

Updated on May 05, 2010
G.M. asks from Watertown, MA
26 answers

I am hoping some of you out there have some good advice for me.

Let me start off by saying I LOVE my husband, and we have one 2.5 year old little girl who positively adores him.
HOWEVER, he is horrible with money - and I mean horrible.

In the 5 years we have been married I have drained my bank account trying to leep us afloat. He has gotten laid off twice in 5 years and that has certainly attributed to our debt. I also decided to be a stay at home mom, so I have no income. Now I am looking to go back to work full time - I have to - we are SO Far in debt that I am using credit cards to buy food. Paying for daycare and getting a job - especially since I have been out of the workforce for 3 years is going to be like working for free. I feel so stuck.

My husband keeps on living as if he has a full time job. Buys breakfast, lunch and dinner out all the time, a shirt here or there, Dunkin Donuts every day, just careless and stupid. He has over withdrawn from our bank account THREE times in the last 4 months. Then will all the insufficient fund fees, etc, we just get further into debt.
Our health insurance expired (through unemployment) last month, and I did not know it, and we have had 4 Dr's apptmts in that time. So now we owe for that too. I cannot take this anymore!
With no money, I really have no where to go. My sister lives about 40 minutes away, and I could stay with her, but she is expecting her first child in a few weeks. I do not want to burden her and her husband. I could move in with my parents, get free 'daycare' and get back on my feet. The problem I have with this is that they live in NC and I live in MA. I would be taking our daughter away from her father, and I REALLY hate that. I do not want my daughter to be without a father.

I am LIVID that he has put us in such debt, and he just does not think it is that big of a deal. We'll figure it out he says. Well after 5 years of just getting deeper into debt, I have lost faith. I NEED to do something.

Any advice would be so appreciated. I am a wreck!

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answers from Phoenix on

My husband was the same way and he just didn't see it. He would say I was the one spending "all" the money. So one time I took a random bank account statement and added up the ATM withdrawals that he made and that I made. Mine was $40 and his was....$800. We are now divorced. He needs to make some serious changes or this will never get better. I don't have any advice other than HE needs to see the importance of this and HE needs to change. Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

It seems to me that right now you have no money. But you have love. If you leave him you will have no money. And no love.

Good luck to you, I wish you the best.

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answers from Indianapolis on

My intentions are not to be harsh in writing this response.....

I'm a firm believe in the "for better or for worse" vow within reason. Certain things are unforgivable in a marriage, but I don't believe this is one of them in this situation. Money, spending habits are things I believe people have to address before getting married - but, that doesn't help you right now.

I spent my sophomore year out of college for no other reason than money. My parents had gotten deeply into debt during one of the last recessions, and my sister and I both worked multiple jobs to help pay the mortgage. I was so upset that my PhD father wouldn't get a job paying $6/hour like I had to help pay the bills - I didn't understand that he was so overqualified, no one would hire him.

Even when I was laid off last year, I never knew how hard it would be to find a job with my professional background. I was lucky to get back to work in 3 months at 80% my previous salary and no sales commission that I'd received the previous 9 years. Some of my colleagues also laid off last May have yet to find jobs.

I have known several people who have gone on shopping binges when getting laid off - it's their way of dealing with it though it's completely illogical. Perhaps he's in a HUGE state of denial and is deeply depressed because he can't provide for your family.

My mom wanted to bail on my dad during their rough financial times blaming him for having been an entrepreneur instead of a steady job with a more stable company. She couldn't accept that she'd contributed to the debt as much as him by choosing to be a Stay at Home Mom (even in rough times) and with her spending habits. Even now, she has no control over what she spends because she desperately needs other people's affirmation.

So, I say no. I believe you need to find a way to work through it, come to resolution (see if there is free church counseling, financial counseling, etc). Rent books on financial responsibility from the library. Even if it means having to take a lesser job than you're worth so you can provide benefits, I'd take it upon yourself to do whatever you have to to keep your daughter, husband and you taken care of for the time being.

That being said, if it were my husband, I'd be giving him a swift kick in the rear regarding reality. When I was laid off, I'd saved over a year's worth of salary and had it liquid in the event of something like this. My husband has a few hundred dollars in his personal checking account because it burns a hole in his pocket.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Reading your post, I assume the truth is somewhere in the middle -- that you BOTH aren't that great at making good money choices.

Why would you choose to stay home when you knew how unreliable your husbands income seemed to be? I assume these spending habits didn't just pop up, you knew the guy 5 years at least and yet three years ago (before your daughter was even born) you decided to stay home? Why did you decide to wait so long to DO something about this? And why didn't you know the medical benefits were ending?

I'm not saying this is all your fault -- but I think you made bad choices here as well. Many, many people cannot afford the luxury of being home with their one child. You said "I decided to be a stay at home Mom." Anyway, thats the past.. but I think it might help your relationship if you acknowledge your bad choices helped get you where you are as well. You can't blame your husband 100% for everything.

I recommend -- Setting up a separate checking account for your husband. Until he gets a job he gets 50 dollars every two weeks "fun money" and thats it. No credit cards, no ATM cards to other accounts. That is all he gets. Set the ATM card up so it denies if its out of funds with no overdraft fees. Don't have him order checks for the account.

Treat your husband like an addict. If he was an alcoholic and you came on the board saying, "I did nothing for three years and my husband not only drank through all of his OWN booze but he drank my expensive wine too!" The women would probably laugh you off the boards. Treat this like an illness. You wouldn't give an alcoholic free access to the bars, don't give your spending husband free access to money.

I also agree with another Mom -- If Dad isn't working, why on earth would you pay for Daycare when you go back to work?

I do think you can work through this and have a successful marriage. I don't think you're going to get to be a SAHM, with a reliable income from a husband, letting him run the finances and just be taken care of. If that is your idea of a happy marriage, you may not be able to get that and you have to decide if you can handle that. Both of you are going to have to be willing to change your roles.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Money is often a cause for divorce, but it will depend if you want to save your marriage or not. First thing - cut up all your husband's credit cards/debit cards. This is while you are having a heart to heart with him. You are now in charge of the money! Give him an allowance if need be, get him help if needed. Read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, and have him read it too. If you both need to move in with your parents for the daycare/free rent, do it.

If you do want to leave your husband, you have to do a lot of the same stuff, including getting all bank accounts severed, or he will just continue to draw from your pool. Either way, good luck, and good for you for trying to get out of this cycle now.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

First- call your local Social Services office b/c many states offer low-income health insurance. It's based on income and can be free in many cases, especially for your daughter. They will ask you to produce medical bills during the lapse in coverage and many times they will be able to have them reduced for you. I learned this from a friend who is a social worker!

Speak with your husband in a calm and informed manner. Draft a spreadsheet (or some other visual) that clearly accounts for your household income and ALL expenditures. I would simply state that he has not demonstrated the ability to manage the family funds and you are taking over that responsibility. Because he is not working at this time (I think), it is his responsibility to care for your daughter during the day and you will provide him with a weekly allowance to do so. This is important to the health of your family and your relationship and it should be a priority for him as well.

Then, have his name removed from ALL accounts- he will probably have to be there. He should not have access to your checking, savings or credit cards.

If he doesn't agree to the change in responsibility, then let him know that you cannot continue to be tied to his debt and ask him to leave. It may send a clearer message if you have a clear plan.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

It sounds to me like you love your husband but are angry about his handling of money. Money trouble is the #1 cause of divorce in the US, so you would be in plentiful company if you left him. But would it really solve anything?
You need to sit him down and explain how this situation is making you crazy and scared and uncertain.
Use that credit card ONE final time to buy a $99 membership in Financial Peace University that you can attend online, together:
Or cheaper yet, just buy the book and follow the steps for budgeting, eliminating debt and saving money for a secure future.
Trust me, this is not a gimmick or a scam. This is solid advice for living on less than you make. But he needs to on board with the plan so really tell him how you fell and tell him how close you feel to calling it quits.
Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I totally reccommend that you BOTH do Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. My husband and I just completed this course and it taught us both so much about how to manage our money. It is the best program, and it seems to be working. I know his show is on the Fox Business Network and he is also on the radio. I would go to his website to find out what station he is on in your area. I also know that he sometimes gives memberships to callers that are really going through a rough time. You never know you could be one of the lucky ones he would make that offer to.

I would really try this before leaving your husband because financial issues can be fixed. A divorce is so final, and it would put you and your daughter through alot. Are really prepared to have to spend every other holiday without your daughter? I know I would have to think long and hard that.
With my oldest daughter (I had out of wedlock) I had to spend every other weekend without her and we switched holidays. One year I had her for Christmas and the next year he had her. That was the hardest thing I ever had to do. Christmas was so depressing and all I did was cry.
Okay, back to the point, you just want to look at every aspect before making such a permanent choice. Make sure you talk to your husband about how you are feeling. One thing to remember also is there is no HIS money and HER money in marriage. It is OUR money and WE need to decide together how it should be spent. Obviously, budeting and paying bills is not your husbands strong points, so they need to be taken away from him. You can manage the check accounts, and budget in "Blow Money" for each of you each month. Once the blow money is gon there is no more until the next month. This should help with him eating out every meal.

I really hope this helps and seriously, I would check out Dave Ramsey!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

the first thing you need to do is take everything you have written down here and put it on a piece of paper and sit down with him and go over it. You need to slap him on the face with 'reality'!!! and take away all the credit cards from him, even if you have to do it while he sleeps. Let him see what's going on and what your options are. If you have to leave, you have to leave! Maybe, you and your daughter can go to your parent's house for a little while until you get yourself situated there. Then he can come and meet you there, or tell him you'll be back when he straightens things up here (MA).
You need to think about your daughter first and foremost! what is best for her? Yes not having her dad around everyday will be sad, but it'll be worse when you become homeless!! She can write to her dad, and talk to him on the phone. Try to get yourself together, if he doesn't want to listen to you and try to work things out by going out and getting a job in whatever he finds (not necessarily his trade) then you might have to leave him even if it's only temporarily.
You can also try to see what other help you can get from your state before you make your decision.
But whatever you do, you have to think about your daughter's well being.



answers from Boston on

Hi G.
I can feel your stress. It makes me stressed thinking about it.

My first piece of advice is to not be a victim. Make a plan with your husband, discuss what YOU need to stay in your relationship (tell him you're thinking of leaving him), i.e. cut up his c.c.'s, give him an allowance, he stays home with your dd while you work, whatever you both decide. Make sure you stick with it and give it a time line, such as 6 months or a 1 year. All along that time period he needs to be working towards financial stability by doing the things you both agreed to and you need to do the same. If either of you start to back down from this agreement, revisit it, find out why and if the answer is, you are or he is not committed to your agreement anymore then I would consider divorce.

A few people have mentioned addiction as a possible answer to why you find yourselves in this situation. That is worth looking into. If you find yourself with insurance in the near future I would strongly suggest finding a therapist with experience in addiction. Therapy could help you answer a lot of questions about how you guys got into this situation in the first place.

Focus on getting yourself a job so that you have some control which may help you feel less stressed. Make sure you stick to your time line, if things haven't changed then it's time to take action for yourself and your daughter and leave.

All they best.



answers from Boston on

It doesn't sound like he is going to change unless you take some serious action. Nothing is permanent. Maybe he needs to see you leave in order to realize what he has lost and make that change. i wish you and your family the best of luck.


answers from Norfolk on

It's going to be hard, but I think you are going to have to leave him and divorce him so you are not held liable for his debts. Get a lawyer asap. He needs to sink or swim on his own. He might be ok with the idea of living homeless on the street but it's no place for a family or child to be. You are not taking your daughter away from her father - her father is failing to live up to supporting his family. So do not feel guilty about this one little bit. Go live with your parents. Your daughter will love being with the grandparents. It will be hard to get back on your feet, but you can do it. And once you do, do NOT allow your ex to bleed you financially. What he has is almost a sickness, but you can not put his lack of responsibility before your child. Good luck.



answers from Chicago on

i have a very similar situation my husband of 3 yrs is not even allowed to be on my checking account for writing bad checks this has always been a issue for us im not sure what is best i also have thought should i leave but im also a stay at home mom and some times feel stuck but as for the money i NEVER allow him to have cash gave him cash one time to pay a ticket and he thought he would go to walmart instead and he has to use debit/credit cards for only the must gas for work diapers if you cant make your lunch too bad for you he works 13 hr days and he has gone hungry before this is a time when everyone is having to cut back and his family has had a problem when i say we dont have the money to go out but thats that i have been told moneys not everything but it does make the world go round and my kids need there world to keep spinning if i dont really have an answer for you know one will but i have found that i had to take complete control if he spends anything its traceable. and i am often the bad guy but it keeps a roof over my kids head do what you think is best i talk to a therapist through early intervention it just feels good to vent sometimes and have someone in your corner saying that your not money hungry just trying to keep the bills paid sorry this is long and not really an answer but hope it helps stay strong



answers from Denver on

I am so sorry to hear about your situation. Have you tried talking to him and setting some limits? Before you leave him, maybe you can set up separate accounts - make sure you aren't on the same cc's anymore etc and get him to stick to some basic rules to get out of debt. If he's willing to try to immprove so you can stay together, it's worth a try if you love him. If he's not willing to try, you sound like you are ready to let go and move on to make a better life for your daughter and you.



answers from Los Angeles on

I know that you are very upset with your hubby right now but if you really do love him like you say you do I do not think that this alone is a reason to leave him. I would seek counseling and let him know how serious you are about this bothering you... I am sure if it comes down to losing you or changing his spending habits he would surely change his spending. My husband used to be a bit of a spender and I too was frustrated so I had him do all the bills for two months so that he could see where all of the money went etc. It helped immensely and now he is almost more aware of his spending than I am of mine. Good luck to you!!



answers from Atlanta on

Why do you share an acct with him? Get him off of your account or close it and open your own account. And you have to pay the bills!

He can open his own account and blow his own money. He's not earning anything, right? So he won't be able to spend anything.

He's a child and a fool and I would want to kick him in the teeth but I can't advise you on what to do; this sounds complicated.

Why would you pay for childcare if you return to work when he has no job? He can be a stay-at-home-dad. Put your kid first. Kick him in the teeth later and maybe some free (church?) counseling?



answers from Detroit on

No matter what you do you must be prepared for your hubby to feel demasculinated... Be prepared for an argument and fights... BUT you have to look out for your child and your self...

Open your own bank account that he has no access to... Use that as your main account and the joint account as his "allowance" account... Use your account to pay the bills... I would see about taking your name off the account with his name on it.

My sister is a SAHM and is in charge of the finances since her hubby would just keep a "running estimate" in his head...

Does hubby work? If not, put him on an allowance and he should be taking care of the kid to cut out the daycare cost... If he does than he keeps a certain amount of his paycheck while the rest goes into your account to pay bills... (keep records and make an actual budget so he can SEE where and how much is going where... That your not socking it away for yourself.)

:-) One quick way my hubby and I figured out how much we actually spent on those non necessities was to cut up our MAC cards...Take all credit/ debit cards and literally CUT them into shreds... I called it living in the 80's. Actually having to TAKE a check to the store to buy groceries... Go into the bank office to make a withdrawl... (deposits were done automatically) Every week we withdraw $100.- cash... That covers ALL expenses under $20.- ... Fast food, kids allowances, drinks, etc. Other than that we write out the checks for the bills and 1 check for weekly groceries... On a budget of course...
Go to a credit councilor with hubby... Let him know it is a BIG deal to YOU... If he doesn't care then go from there... But let him know your serious!



answers from Chicago on

steps to take:
1) don't move to your sisters, to hard on a new family, plus your husband needs a BIG wake up so moving out of state will be best.....doing this I would hope would make him realize that he doesn't want to lose his i would hope it would be temporary maybe 30-60 days?

2) Dont do #1 if he is willing to do step #2........write out your list of demands & say "in order for us to TRY to work this out this is what must be done": hand over your cc & debit card, pull his credit report from each agency once every 4 months (everyone should be doing this anyway), i also think you can put blocks on credit reports for any new cc being opened so make him do this & you witness it.....also both of you MUST go to a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class together, this alone will change your lives drastically........if you attend church seek the counseling of a pastor together.......he has to sit with you once a week to go over the bills & you have to be the one to give him cash for gas etc (you may want to fill up his car with him so you can verify he's using the $$ only for gas)....depending on his work schedule he may have to get a 2nd a tv show called "TIL DEBT DO US PART" Fireproof.........and last have a HUGE garage sale, so if he has any toys like motorcycles, etc they must go!

3) i would only stay with him if he agrees with ALL of #2 (it's not as bad as it sounds) but it's very important to go to the Dave Ramsey class, there are classes everywhere around the entire nation & if held at a church they usually supply babysitting

I had to leave a 7 yr relationship because of money. So my daughter didn't get to grow up with a 2 parent household. But today her father has been out of work for 2 yrs, on his 3rd time filing bankruptcy, home is currently in foreclosure, his inlaws support him & his wife & kids, & now he is an alcoholic, so I don't have one ounce of regret!!!!!!!!!

Take control of your life & if he's not in, then leave him all these posts too



answers from Philadelphia on

I'm guessing you have talked to him BUT have you told him what you just posted? Give him a reality check by showing him how stressed you are at him spending so freely. Try money counseling with Dave Ramsey, some churches hold groups that people watch the videos together. I haven't seen them but I have heard some AMAZING things about it, people have said he taught them how to save and get finances in order. He had, not sure if he still does a tv show. I'm sure if you google his name you will find a lot of information.



answers from Boston on

I am sorry your in this situation. But you have not worked 3 of the 5 years that your talking about. I would be mad also if I was charging food and he was going to DD. All that needs to stop. You need to show him this EIMAIL!! I would have a yard sale and start selling off all his new shirts and anything new he buys take back! He does need a wake up call. But you really cannot blame all of this on him. If things were so bad maybe you should have been working also. Marriage is a partnership that needs you both working together. Make a budget, use only cash, cut his cards up. Aslo you can call or go to the bank and have it so no purchase can be made without enough funds. I did this with our depit cards. He needs to get his butt out there and WORK!! Stop eating out and help take care of his family. I hope you find something also. I wish you luck!


answers from St. Louis on

Have you talked with him about his money issues? What does he say about this? Does he not care? Does he think it's just a phase? I think this is the first place to start. Explain to him where you are in your financial situation. If he knows where you stand but is still spending like crazy, then you need to do something more permanent. This may be where you give him X amount of cash per week to spend. Talk with him to see if he agrees to that. If not, then you need to figure out what you can and cannot live with. It may mean counseling is in the books for you. You cannot force him to change, but maybe if he sees that it's either that he changes or you'll divorce him, then maybe he will change his mind. Good luck!



answers from Denver on

First of all, why are you letting him manage the debt? Why haven't you taken the cards away/told him how much he has available and for what emergencies? Obviously money management is not one of his skills. That means it is something in your marriage you should probably have stepped up long ago about.

Sit down and tell him that you are at the end of your financial rope, that he can either turn over all financials to you and agree to your terms like that he is not allowed to buy things other than grocery store food right now, or you need to find a new place to be.

Also, get him tested for ADHD if you can figure out a way to do it. Chances are treatment would help keep jobs and money around.



answers from New York on

You are absolutely right that you need to do something. I am feeling your pain and frustration. There are many things you need to do and right away. The first thing is get your money straight - meaning whatever money there is left get it into a separate account immediately. What money is he using to buy his breakfast, lunch and dinner out? Begin establishing your own independent financial house while requiring your husband to get financially responsible.

If the purpose of leaving your husband is to get him to open his eyes then I'm all for it. You must being to plan a stategy and work that plan out. I think it would also be good for you to talk with a certified financial planner this is someone trained in handling money and money matters. They may be able to help you see some things differently.

Local food pantries would be a good source of obtaining non perishable foods for you and your family. This is not a time for you to be full of pride but to be more practical. Check your local churches for if they have a program and when the food is distributed.

Naturally you are LIVID but is part of your anger with yourself? If so you need to forgive him and yourself and move on. You need to learn to make better financial decisions. Also know that there is nothing wrong with telling your husband "no" regarding money matters but it would be better for you to do what you need to do to make yourself and your daughter sound while holding him responsible for his part and insisting he do much better. Counselling all the way around would definitely help.



answers from Kansas City on

My guess is that he was not great with money before you married him, and you knew that. It is not fair for your daughter to turn her life upside down due to something you volunteered to do. It is only money, and he can get help for his childish behavior. I do not see this as a reason to leave him. Although I think it is the mans responsibility to take care of the finances, if you are better at it, than you take over paying the bills. Give him an "allowance", buy cheap food, and pack his lunch for him, etc... When he runs out of his weekly money, don't give him anymore. He'll eventually learn. I'm sure someone else has mentioned Dave Ramsey, but he does have some good advice.



answers from Charlotte on

G., you need to talk to a lawyer about how to extricate yourself from this financial mess. Perhaps leaving your husband will be the wakeup call he needs to straighten himself out, and with a lawyer's help, you can protect yourself some while he faces his "demons" with money management.

If you are divorced, you can still have a relationship. You can just call the shots better, insisting that he have counseling. Then once you see a difference, perhaps you can get back together, with him having to pay his own way.

You have a long time to live still, with a child in mind. See what the lawyer says.

Good luck,



answers from Portland on

Oh, my dear, my heart breaks for you. My first husband was like this, only not quite as bad.

The basic definition of addiction is to be so invested in a pleasure-seeking activity that it affects your life and the lives of those you love in hurtful ways. How well does that fit your situation?

Your husband is almost certainly an addict (buying addictions are only one of many), and is in deep denial. He is probably buying things to both maintain the denial and get little hits of pleasure chemicals to his brain.

Two suggestions: if your sister or parents will take you in, I would consider that. Your husband MIGHT (not will, but might) be startled out of his denial, at least long enough to reconsider the situation.

But whether he is or not, get yourself educated about codependency and enabling. Join an Alanon group, or look for a group that focuses on using money/spending as a drug. Read books – there are a bunch of good ones. You'll learn a lot about why you are in this situation and what you can do about it. You may learn that your unwillingness to have your daughter live without a father is a form of denial you are practicing, so that you don't have to change.

While at your sister's, do everything you can to be a helpful guest so that your welcome will last longer and you will feel less guilt (another possible sign of codependency). Take advantage of the separation to deal with your feelings, get a job, find your own place.

You could end up living in a car or a shelter with your daughter, and with or without your husband, if you don't deal with these issues. Very hard news to hear, but I have a sister who was the spender (and other unhealthy behaviors), tapped out my family, and very nearly ended up on the street.

My best to you and your daughter. The future can be brighter, but that's not likely to happen unless you make some decisive changes, soon.

Next question: My Husband Spends Money as If It Will Never End.