Troubles W/ Husband

Updated on June 22, 2010
E.J. asks from Storrs Mansfield, CT
24 answers

I feel like I am going nuts - nothing that is happening makes sense anymore. I need to get people's opinions on this situation - I'm not sure if I am way off with how I feel.

My husband does not have a very good work history - he's had lots of jobs, been fired from two (one about a month before our son was born) and is currently working part-time hours in a restaurant. He is also supplementing with doing some trade work on the side. I carry the bulk of the financial burden. We are just making ends meet - sometimes not even. Bills get paid when we can but we are always able to put food on the table. He has a decent amount of school loan debt that we are trying to pay off and he is always complaining about it. He is going to be out of work for a month since the place he works now is shutting down for a little while. He has been trying to line up side work for the month but he hasn't gotten enough to last the whole four weeks. He went out yesterday and bought himself a $400-$500 mountain bike. I am NOT HAPPY about it but we can't even talk about it. I tried to talk to him about it before, but when I started to tell maybe it wasn't such a good idea he became very angry. I feel like he's always complaining about his student loans and we are barely making it financially - and that buying something worth $400-$500 does not help the situation. Not to mention that we have other things our family needs! I don't think I am off base by how I feel but I just need to hear some thoughts. I love my husband but he's putting a lot of distance between the two of us and I don't feel like he is really acting like a part of this family. BTW - his mother is in complete support of him buying the bike and encouraged him to do it, saying that we all need to do stuff for ourselves ( I don't disagree but not $400-$500 worth right now!). She is also the person who said when he got fired right before our son was born that it was a good thing - so he could spend more time with our son...I'll just give birth, work, pay the bills, do the housework, and everything else! Don't even get me started on that!!!! I'm sorry for the bitterness...just not happy right now.

** I'm saying $400-$500 because he hasn't officially told me he bough the bike and I don't know how much it cost, even though I can see it in the back of his car!!!!

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answers from Portland on

E., I looked up your profile because I was wondering about the age of your son (about a year?) and the length of your marriage (?) so I'd have a better understanding of your situation. I read your post of a few months ago in which you were lamenting the lopsided situation in your marriage, and how exhausted and discouraged you felt. It looks like things haven't improved.

I have three suggestions.

1. If you can see the option of leaving this man or separating from him, tell him that clearly. He may only be hearing from you now that you love and are trying to understand him. A shock to the system may help him wake up enough to realize that he could be contributing more to the marriage, and that because he isn't, his free ride is at risk. That might be enough stimulus to initiate some change.

And it may not work, in which case be prepared to leave, or ask him to leave, since you are apparently paying for your current housing. I left a similar marriage after struggling to make it work for 13 years. By then, I had an 8-year-old daughter to support. It was hard. It was also one of the healthiest decisions I ever made.

2. Investigate Non-Violent Communication – a practical and positive tool for increasing the respect and understanding in any relationship. You can google this for descriptions, examples, books, videos, and classes. Though only one person using it can shift a difficult relationship, my husband and I have both learned this effective process, and found it transformational in our understanding of ourselves, as well.

3. Look into co-dependency, because your husband is dependent on you to enable his lifestyle of few responsibilities. There are good books on the topic, there are many links online to the topic, and there is Al-Anon, which started out as a support for codependents of alcoholics, but attracts enablers of all stripes, because the principals are universal and they work.

My best to you. Be good to yourself and your son. And be good to your husband; that can and probably should include expecting him to grow up.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Get yourself a checking acount and don't put him on it.
Start putting your paychecks into your account.
Pay the bills you can. Electric, gas, phone, cell
If you can't afford cable out it goes. If you can't afford two cell phones out they go.
Start paying for the household only from your account. Do not let him put you on any credit cards and do not put him put him on any of yours.
Start getting yourself self sufficient so if he continues you might have a little saved up.
He has not cut ties with mommy yet, I would try counseling for yourself to help you get to where you need to be. Try a financial counselor too. Read Dave Ramsey's book.
Be very specific when talking about the financials in the house. Tell him to return the bike and that you cannot afford it right now. He will balk and then there will be a fight. Make sure before this you have someplace where your money is going, when he questions why there is no money in the household account, be very honest, WE don't have any money.

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answers from Honolulu on

He is immature.
He is not a little boy.
His Mom coddles him.
He is not responsible nor a "Man" who realizes he has a wife and family.
He has arrested development.

Tell him to ask his Mommy for money.... because you guys are almost broke.... due to "his stuff."

Tell Him, to ask his Mommy, to pay off his school loan debt... I am sure, she will come to his rescue.

Do NOT add your name to any joint credit cards or accounts, otherwise it will affect YOUR credit, and YOU will be responsible for "his" debts and bills. Don't ruin your credit/history for him. Tell him to ask his Mommy to feed/clothe/pay off his bills and get him "toys."

I am so sorry.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

my advice is to have an honest, straight forward conversation with him, but don't talk down to him or talk to him like the child he seems to be acting like, or he will tune you out. If he won't talk or listen, then try writing him a letter to read. If you still are getting no where with him or the situation, then I think you should open a separate bank account that he does not know about. Put your paychecks in there or at least any extra money you have, so that you have something to fall back on. I know many men and women who are in similar situations and have "safety accounts".

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answers from Provo on

I think that your mother-in-law has no clue about your financial situation and is thinking of ways to mentally support her son. Telling her any different will not do any good. I would just discount her opinion or maybe just let her support him for a while.

My first husband was a lot like your husband and anytime I tried to discuss it with him it would turn into an argument and he would say, "I make the money!" Well, he did make some money but he spent like a rich man....I was married to the man for 13 years before I figured out that I could not deal with it anymore. His children can even see his wasteful spending now and this is a great lesson for them. I am not telling you to give up on this marriage but look deeply into the situation and see what kind of example he is setting for your child. Financial issues are one of the biggest problems that I have with a spouse. I am very independent and I want my spouse to be very independent and be able to show self control.

Remember give a person a fish and you feed him for a meal, teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Do you want to babysit two children? The older one has less chance of growing up. Talk to him and tell him your feelings and be prepared to kick him out or pack your bags.

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answers from Fort Wayne on

Mommy needs to pay for his bike. If she thinks he needs it so darn bad, then the money can come out of her bank account! Honestly, I'd go into his car, get the bike and take the thing back. There is NO way in HELL I'd be putting up with that!
Who is in charge of paying the bills? Sounds like it's you right? Does he know that you don't have the money in the account? I'm in charge of the bank account in our house. My husband has absolutely NO clue how much is in there. If you ask him, he always thinks that we are rolling in the dough and we're quite the opposite. I think he forgets we have bills to pay or something. It's so not an excuse though!
I would just flat out tell him that if he wants the bike, his mommy can pay for it. If it stays in the house, it goes back to the store. End of story.

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answers from Detroit on

Ugh. Not good for you and your marriage. You are in a difficult situation. I would feel exactly the way you feel and have. Since my situation was a pattern of negative, inconsiderate behavior, I ended the relationship because I did not need two children BUT there was A LOT more than a single instance of overspending and not contributing enough financially.

The question is "what does he contribute?" "What is the positive with this relationship" Is this something you can get past. He is not going to change. Obviously, he has been raised to take his wants as the number one priority. Are you okay with being the person providing the financial stability? Was this a one time situation or a pattern that puts you and your family at risk?

Either shake this off and move on OR start looking at the whole relationship and the affect it has on you and your kids. Good luck!

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answers from Dallas on

What is he thinking? If you don't have money to spend, much less not enough sometimes to pay all the bills, then why the heck would he go out and purchase a stupid bike for? I guess he's not thinking about the family. (and his mom is crazy! at a time like this, i don't see many people doing that. having a roof is so much more important than a damn bike). I wouldn't be happy either....and I'd let my husband know about the bike and his plans to RETURN it. he keeps it, he's in for it. but that's me. i'd be pissed too!!

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answers from Washington DC on


I think its a guy denial tactic. My hubby was laid off last year. He didn't get any severance, and was fired mid-week, so only got a partial ending paycheck. Within a week I had to cash in some stocks and retirement stuff so that we could pay the basic bills. HE cashed in NOTHING! He did try to look for a job during the week, but on the weekends all he could think about was going ATV riding. He was home and now they could go for 3-4 day weekends. Mind you these trips aren't cheap. Even if they go camping, there is a $50 a day charge for the atv permits, plus camping fees/hotel room, plus gasoline, plus food. Minimum of $300 a trip. So in mid July there were planning another trip. They had already been on 2 trips. One in may - Mother's Day weekend, and one in June. Two days before they were supposed to leave I was paying bills and realized that I didn't have $300 to waste on a atv trip, the house payment was due. So I told him. I need you to cancel the trip we can't afford it. To me, I shouldn't have even had to say that because he should've known that he shouldn't be out wasting money when he wasn't bringing any in, but... He was furious. Why didn't you say something sooner, we've made plans...So break'em. It wasn't like they were loaded up and leaving the driveway!!

I also became VERY bitter. Why do I have to cover all of the food expense because he charged x,y,z and now can't pay for it. He would ask to borrow money to pay a bill, but would never pay me back so then I was left scrambling to figure out how to cover my bills because I had helped him cover his. (we have seperate bank accounts - his requirement.)

From that point on I made him talk to me before he spent ANY money or made ANY plans. Priority one is food for the kids and a roof over our heads. Hobbys are paid for with any extra money that isn't needed for the current bills or any upcoming bills.

My advice to you is this:
1. Tell him to return the bike to the store. If he won't return it then make him get money from his mom to cover it. She encouraged it, she can help pay for it.
2. Set aside a time for you and hubby to talk about the upcoming week. Is there anything that needs to be replaced, wants, etc.
3. No more impulse buying. This is a hard one. If there are items that are wanted, start a savings envelope for them. The item isn't bought until there is enough money in the designated envelope to pay for it. No taking from other envelopes to cover...


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answers from Boston on

All I can say is WOW, if my husband pulled that he'd be sleeping on the couch for a very long time. Its tough when a man loses his job, its quite a blow to the self esteem when you have a family to support. Its good that he is taking any work he can get. However, any large purchases should always be discussed between husband and wife, whether only one or both of you are working. Your finances are shared now, and the house and kids come first. And since money is extremely tight right now, a mountain bike is just not necessary!! It would be a short discussion, and your husband knows that which is why he is being sneaky. The fact that its hiding in his car right now makes it so much worse. He need to be a man and fess up to how much it cost, and possibly bring it back if it really cost that much. And his mother should stay out of it. Totally on your side, I would want to strangle him if I were you.

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answers from Boston on

Of course your husband gets angry and probably yells louder so you'll stop harrassing him. It's a horrible tactic to get you to back down. My husband is pretty good but does the same thing in arguments and it drives me crazy. You just need to react the same way or let him know how serious you really are. Why don't you create a spread sheet or something that shows every bill, mortgage, loan or obligation you guys have. Then $$ you are both bringing in. Also, audit the accounts and put everything into a category - ATM withdrawals, Grocery, Gas ... etc. And come up with a budget. My husband was shocked to see what his ATM witdrawals alone were. It's very easy to get off track and we are both working full time.

As far as his mother .... when he tells you that she thinks he should buy something reply with obviously she doesn't realize how cash scrapped we are right now because it's irresponsible given our circumstances and if she feels that strongly - maybe she'd like to buy it for you for your birthday or Christmas. If she says it to you - even better. Tell her she must not realize how behind you are on everything with husband out of work for X number of months. And that you would hate to have to go to her for help. That might smarten her up.

I can't believe he hasn't even mentioned it. Does he not think you can see it in his car. I would address that right away because who knows what else he is hiding from you. Ask him if he has so little respect for you to 1.) buy something that you as the only person working is obviously paying for. 2.) to not even mention a big purchase and be sneaky about it. 3.) does he realize he has a family and the responsibilites that come with that? I feel your pain. Good Luck but don't keep your head in the sand or he will bury you guys and you will lose every thing.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Hi E.
I can completely feel your frustration. you have every right to be very upset about this. I think the problem may be your husband is feeling very inadquite as a husband and father so he is trying to buy his feeling away. I think if you can you both should go to a marraige counslor and if he wont go you should go by yourself. you can find one that will work on a sliding fee scale so it wont coast you much or your insurance may also cover one. but you really need to learn how to effectively communicate with your husband.

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answers from Austin on

I would not be well. He has made a huge mistake. He needs to understand that you cannot get out of debt, unless you make a plan and stick with it.

You say he has been fired a few times? Is there a reason that keeps occurring?

Can you sit down and make a list of all of your debt and add it all up.

Then make a list of all monthly expenses. Then figure out how much you MUST make to just pay these bills each month.
Then write down how much you make and see what you need to do to pay these bills. Show him in black and white. If you cannot get him to get on board, I (myself) would tell him to get out and go home to mama riding the bike, sell his car and start taking care of yourself and your child.

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answers from Chicago on

Talk to him about your financial situation and ask him to return the bike, you guys just can't afford it right now, maybe another time. Good luck, I wish you the best.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

OK--I can see the "look on the sunny side" comment about spending time with the baby but buying a "toy" when you are scraping by is ridiculous! I don't care if it was a $50 bike!
I know when things are tight financially, people get sick of denying themselves stuff, but really, his behavior is immature and irresponsible!
My best advice is to get on the same page financially with goals and a budget. Dave Ramsay is AWESOME for getting out of debt and living like you never have before! Credit and poor money management are the problems and they can be fixed! Get "Financial Peace" or "The Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsay ASAP. It will help you! Good luck!

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answers from Syracuse on

It seems like you have a number of responses and I hope you have found some words to help. I thought I would put in my two cents since in some ways I am going through the same thing. I only hope my experiences can assist. So I have 75% of the financial burden and ironically my husband lost his job 2 months before our daughter was borne two years ago. He was fortunate to find another job but still does not make much. I make 3 times his salary. We have been getting by but not saving as much as we can and some months dip into our savings. Over the last few months we have tried hard to write out a budget that we agree upon which includes $20 of mad money you can spend with no questions asked. I usually paid the bills but we actually decided to change that to my husband so he could see the money coming in and out. We view the banking together and go over major expenses and anything outside the budget. I try not to blow up when he actually seeks my financial guidance when he wants something. I was getting sick of being the bad guy and holding the purse strings. Being on the same page financially takes a lot of work and it is so much easier when you have money. We still fight about things and are struggling to find the money to expand our family. We are nowhere near having it all figured out but we are improving. I think one thing that has helped is illustrating how certain action make you feel and not making it all about who makes the most money. I struggle with this a lot since I make all the money and sometimes I want to hold all the cards. Good luck.




answers from Boston on

I can certainly understand why you're so upset. Who wouldn't be? I'm sorry to say that your husband sounds very much like my brother-in-law. Over the years he has been unemployed more than he's been employed. He is constantly buying expensive items for himself. Expensive bikes, cameras, etc. But also things like a motorhome and boat! And refused to sell them when he was unemployed. I'm telling you this because it started exactly the way you're describing and completely escalated from there. He does nothing to help at home. No house work, no cooking ... he won't even watch the children!!! They continue to pay for childcare even when he's unemployed! Unbelievable. I wonder, on a daily basis, why his wife stays with him (he's not even nice to her - quite the opposite.) She would be better off without him; financially for sure. She works very hard without a break. EVER. Just to tread water. They never, ever get ahead. The moment there is the slightest breathing room, he loses his job. They've been married for about 20 yrs and the only thing that's changed is that it's gotten worse.

I strongly urge you to get counseling. At very least, do what others have suggested and protect your finances. Put your money where he doesn't have access to it and make sure he doesn't get any credit in your name. (There are services that can alert you if credit is applied for in your name.)

Obviously, just my opinion, but I don't believe having his mother pay for the bike is a solution to this problem. My in-laws don't outwardly support my BILs behavior, but they keep giving him money, so in effect, they most definitely support the behavior. If they, on the rare occasion say no to the money, he throws (an adult size) tantrum and they give in. In my opinion, this has only made the situation worse. He has never had to deal the with the consequences of his actions.

Good luck to you.



answers from Boise on

Easy to say, hard to do. Quit your job and stop handling your finances!!!! Your relationship right now is mother to son rather than hubby and wife. He is leaning on you and not being a man, but a boy. When you quit, don't be rude or angry about it abd STOP looking at your finances. This is the only way and i promise!!! It wil WORK!!!!!!!! I Promise! This is the best way!



answers from Minneapolis on

Judging him won't help. It will just make him more distant. First get yourself to a place where you are truly OK with him buying the bike, and then you can talk about it and find out his reasons. (Maybe he borrowed it from a friend?) Try to really hear his point of view--and don't start telling him yours unless he asks you. It sounds like the two of you are not feeling like you're on the same team. Maybe this will help. Then another time you can tell him, gently, all of your concerns. See if you can rebuild some love.


answers from St. Louis on

I'd explain to him that while you agree with spending money on yourselves, it should not affect whether or not you can pay your bills. Get him to agree on a set price where if you spend over that, you have to consult with each other first. We do this on any purchases over $100.



answers from Las Vegas on

His mother sounds like she has her head in the clouds or maybe is clueless about what your financial situation is like.

Anyhow . . . jobs are tough to come by now days and I don't know what the job market is like in your area but I'm still thinking that your husband may benefit from working with a life coach, career coach or just a plain old counselor at the very least. I don't know him so it's really hard to assess where his mind is at but I'm wondering if there is not a little bit (or a lot) of self-sabotage going on. He may have some self-esteem and insecurity issues that need to be addressed and his buying the bike may just be a way of distracting him from those feelings for a little bit or may make him feel a little bit more worthier that he normally ordinarily feels.

Hope this gives you better insight on what's going on. Good luck.



answers from Boise on

Unfortunately the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and it sounds like he has the same kind of immature thought process that she does.
Suggest to him that he take the bike back. Then tell him when he gets 90% of the loan paid, he can buy a bike. In the meantime, you can go on walks as a family. By the way, we try not to buy anything from a store, all our stuff now comes from craigs.list or garage sales where you can get it pennies on the dollar.
Teeling him he cant have it might cause problems. I know it did with me and my hubby. He didnt want me trying to tell him how to spend his money, ( I wasnt working) even when it was absolutely over the top and frivolous. I put my thumb on him trying to buy a 30K projection screen for 4 years. Finally I realized he was feeling like he had no freedom with me and was REALLY resenting me, so I let up and told him he could but it wouldnt be with my blessing. He did buy it and it came back and bit him in the butt later.He realizedlater that I was right and it was a mistake. He ended up paying twice as much for it in the long run. Now, we have considered selling it at a third of the purchase price to get some cash. That is the problem with buying 'stuff'. I have looked at my old pictures and realized we dont have any of the furniture and stuff anymore from 12 years ago . It all eventually got sold at garage sales so we could buy new stuff. That new stuff will also end up is garage sales some day.



answers from Boston on

You either need to dump that dead weight or find a way to get him to grow up, because that's extremely childish behavior right there. He needs to step up and be an adult. Ridiculous. You need to stand firm and make this an issue. If it were me, and possible, I would go take that bike right out of his car and take it back to where he got it from. It's worth it to have a big fight over this, because he needs to start being responsible. Otherwise he won't get better (he still might not) and you will be in this situation for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. And your child(ren) will be, too. Bad, bad deal. Doesn't matter how much you love him if he is not acting like he loves you (being responsible is a really good way of showing you actually value and respect your partner -- he's dropping the ball, there).

His mother is obviously a big problem. Tell her that she can pay for the bike if she wants him to have nice things so badly. Somebody who can't keep a job or contribute to his family's upkeep when it's necessary has no right to be a drain on that same family by buying luxury items. You NEED to fight him on this.


answers from Killeen on

First of all the mother is wrong for saying that. He sounds like he needs to grow up. Although you can't tell him what to do, you have the right to tell him that bike needs to go back. If she things he should have the bike she should pay for it. I have been through this in the past with my DH years ago. I pray that you find the strength to stand up to them both and not let them destroy your finances or the family. If he wants to act like he is not part of the family, no problem, tell him to go stay with his mommy.

I know you love him but that goes both ways with respect as well. Love yourself enough and your son to demand better from him and if he can not do that you must make some decisions.

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