Author Topic: (Sorry, long...)Husband Hates Debt, But thinks "Mustachianism" is too "extreme".  (Read 10392 times)

cbear42

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Money has been a huge and horrible problem in our home since the day we married - and before. We've been married 17 years and it's been a constant struggle to even discuss it - let alone resolve anything about it. My husband has incurred debt - for which he says he had no choice - home repairs, periods of unemployment to cover household expenses, etc.)  He has no manual skills of significance and he hires out anything that needs doing in the house. I am not a typical  "spender", but in the past, have spent on things like work books, etc....that I wouldn't do now. I don't buy clothes, jewelry, furniture, etc. I am more than willing to grow a garden, shop at Salvation Army, or tackle a household repair task (even if I do do it pretty badly usually...! :-) I have an old car but its paid for. (As long as the wheels are round and it gets me where I need to go - I'm not impressed by cars...and never have been.)

My husband complains incessantly about our lack of money. I have always been at least 50% self-supporting with my own work (also in technology). I should also point out we have a significant age difference (I'm 63 and he's 46.) He wants to save enough money to stop working and start day-trading. (He's done this in the past and seems to enjoy it for a while, at least. He works in technology right now and makes $96,000 a year. We have a $280,000 mortgage on our way too big home. And I have no idea how much credit-card debt he has racked up...probably in the $20,000 - $25,000 range.  He shops at Whole Foods and loves dinners/activities out with his friends (He treated his parents and ourselves to concert tickets the other night for her birthday - at a cost of $280.00 for the lot of us. He also took a trip to Europe this summer while I was working in Mexico.)

He considers himself much more financially savvy than myself. Problem is, I don't think he really is.

I want to launch whole-heartedly into Mustachianism. I don't really care about being wealthy - but he does. I think the challenge of trying to live on as little as possible could be actually a huge amount of fun! Really! He finally read the initial blog post here - and didn't make any comment about it. Except that it seems "extreme". (This comment was made two hours after I talked him out of buying another $200.00 portable piano. We have a baby grand and another portable already!)

I have a small house with a few acres of land around it in northern New York. It is solar-powered, with my own well, and I love it there.  Currently, the mortgage is $56,000 and the  monthly payment is $469.00. He is grudgingly willing to go there "for a year" to save money - but says he will "go crazy" if he has to stay there longer.

I think he wants fairy-dust to anoint him and make him rich.  The word "savings", comes out of his mouth, but that's also where it ends. When it comes to sacrificing any real pleasures to get to that goal - he is not so prepared to do that.  The problem is that, *I'm* the reason he says he can't save money! And I am tired of being the scape-goat. This makes life decidedly unpleasant, as you might guess.

Is there anything I can say to him? Any way to reach him? I haven't always been money-conscious...but I am willing to learn and try and make up for lost time. But, I am also more zen about the fact that, you can be happy anywhere and with anything - it's a question of attitude, in my book.

WWYD?

(What would you do?)










Mesmoiselle

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Not helpful at all but I'd get a divorce!

On second thought, how about some therapy? He has blame issues when it's obviously all him (from your explanation.)

Rezdent

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Looking at what you've written, it seems like you two are not only on different pages but there appear to be communication issues as well.  It's significant if you have no clue as to his amount of debt.
If this were me, well I would establish some rules and regularly scheduled talks until we worked out common ground.
However it doesn't sound like this would work for you just yet.  I hate to suggest this because it sounds so corny...counselling.  Both of you if possible but if he won't go then you should go anyway. A good counselor will help you clarify goals, establish boundaries, etc.

Spudd

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Why does he blame you for not being able to save? When you say you're "50% self-supporting" does that mean you bring in 50% of the household income, or that you bring in 25% of it? If you bring in 50% and he's the one buying all the trinkets, then it does seem like he is to blame here.

Let me ask this, though. If you are 63, you must be getting close to retirement. Have you got any retirement savings? Do you have a plan?

Having 2 houses, both with mortgages, is definitely a big drag on your finances. Can you rent out the country house?

Self-employed-swami

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Honestly, I don't say this lightly, but if he doesn't agree to counselling (both emotional/relationship and financial) I would walk out the door.

Live in your county house, and save up your own nest egg.

cbear42

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First of all, I totally am not blameless in this scenario! (But, yes, he does have grudge/blame/holding on to the past - type issues.. :-)

I have never been a saver.  I have made great money - but typically we were supporting two households. I was working in Europe for most of the past decade - and he was working in the States. He loved the idea of having a "home abroad"(fits his image of himself) ...but I was working and paying for it. Unfortunately, my financial education growing up was zilch. My parents never owned a home, or saved in their lives. I became a hippie in the 60's and adopted the "money-is-evil" philosophy, mainly because I saw so many people who DID have money who were greedy, very miserable, uncaring jerks. It rubbed off -and I practically made a vow to stay poor - if that was the only alternative. To me, money is just paper. It's something that you do some good in the world with beyond what you need to support yourself modestly. Right or wrong, that's my attitude about money.

His is different - and probably more realistic. Except, he seems to be the sort that will NEVER be happy - even with money - because money ISN'T what makes a person happy (in my opinion).

So, no. I have no savings. That was a conscious choice in some measure...however, when I was a single mom supporting two small children - and the money was enough to only pay for simple
food - there was no option about "saving". When you have $65.00 left over for food for three people for a month - it's not going into a 401K.

So, some decisions NOT to save - and some life situations that pretty much made it impossible.

That said. I am happy to take myself off to my house in NY and live in happy poverty. I made my choices, and I own them. Come what may....! :-)

Counseling is underway. (And thanks for your replies, btw!)

When I say "50% self-supporting",  I mean that I was in a range of 50% to 100% self-supporting over most of our marriage. Also, I supported him during periods when he required it as well. I have had three bad falls over the last decade that meant I couldn't work for months at a time - and he supported me during that time.

We have never co-mingled our money, btw. That's one reason I have no idea what his debt/our (it's Texas) debt is. He has told me from time to time - but honestly, it rolls right off. I can't remember it from one day to the next. Again, money is just such a low priority. I really do try to remember it all - but, I've never acquired any skill at doing so.

I am trying to change my financial interest (for his sake) , but it's extremely difficult to care about something that you've just never had any interest in your entire life - married or not.





iamadummy

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title says 'hates debt', but seems like he likes it. try to get him on the same page you are on. communication

MrsK

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This is an aside, but has marriage counseling every worked for anyone?  I ask because husband #1 and I did it and were divorced within 6 months.  Happily divorced, so maybe that was what the counseling was for?  Anyway, I know about 7 or 8 other couples where it was the same deal.  Go to counseling and get divorced.  I think that by the time you go to formal counseling it is already too late, but I would love to hear if it has actually worked for anyone.

I just see many threads here where people advise marriage or couples counseling and I think it is the polite way of saying you guys are really messed up.

 

Rezdent

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I've gone to counseling, mostly on my own but with partners in the past.
Having a neutral party for negotiating agreements has been the biggest benefit.  They can help especially if you get stuck repeating patterns over and over.  They also help people with establishing boundaries.  The people have to actually do the work for counseling to be helpful.

Counseling may not save a marriage but in this situation I would recommend OP go anyway.  Divorcing without addressing the underlying issues means a person is very likely to recreate the same situation in the future.  Addressing these things now may save the marriage.   Or at least prevent a repeat.
Edited to add:
I just saw your 2nd post.  Have you read "Your Money or Your Life "?   It's an oldie but actually profiles someone who had similar money views...and showed how this view can be counter productive and INCREASE your dependence on money.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2014, 11:18:43 AM by Rezdent »

wwweb

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There is a lot going on in your post - I'm not competent to comment on most of it.  However, this line sent shivers down my spine.

He wants to save enough money to stop working and start day-trading.

This is roughly equivalent to wanting to save enough money to stop working and start gambling.  Academic research on day trading (e.g. charting) clearly shows that day trading does not beat the market and incurs significant trading fees.

You should probably start by finding goals you and your husband can agree on (easier said than done!), but once you have common goals you should have a serious conversation about your investment strategy.

MoneyCat

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I would start with small things, like cutting back on eating out and getting bicycles to go riding.  From there, you can increase the Mustachianism by increments so it isn't such a big shock to your husband.  Show him how much fun Mustachianism can be.  Help him see the enjoyment in using the library and going on hikes/bicycle rides and going to free community concerts/events instead of paying big bucks for tickets.  Since you mentioned that he wants to be a day trader, show him how the savings can be invested and watch his eyes light up.  I don't think your situation is anywhere near the disaster that some people on here seem to think it is.  You can work with your husband to help him see that the way he is living is not really satisfying him, which is why he is wasting so much money.  Give him the good stuff -- love, respect, appreciation, cooperation -- and he will respond.

Breaker

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If it were me, I set up a spreadsheet or use Mint.com and log in your expenses and income for a month or two.  That way you are not guessing about the amount spent.  After you have an idea where you spend and where the household money is going, ask you Husband to sit down with you and go over the spreadsheet.  Maybe he is a person who needs to see in Black and White how the finances are working.

If he refuses to even talk about money, I would pack my bags, kiss him good-bye and head to the country house for a couple of months.  He may see reason after that. 




Mesmoiselle

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If it were me, I set up a spreadsheet or use Mint.com and log in your expenses and income for a month or two.  That way you are not guessing about the amount spent.  After you have an idea where you spend and where the household money is going, ask you Husband to sit down with you and go over the spreadsheet.  Maybe he is a person who needs to see in Black and White how the finances are working.

If he refuses to even talk about money, I would pack my bags, kiss him good-bye and head to the country house for a couple of months.  He may see reason after that.

And tell him part of returning to live with him is a promise to get counseling?

FrugalInTheBigSky

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As for the relationship advice, I don't know. But maybe read some of these posts and see if you find similarities in your relationship to these self described "amazing" ones.
http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/tell-me-about-your-amazing-relationship!/

But the point of MMM's philosophy as I subscribe to it is that the financial aspects of your life should follow your values, your goals, your happiness. It isn't supposed to be about "frugal" or extreme... Is is about aligning your financial habits with happiness.  I would start over and read MMM articles to see the common thread of this. Live your life true to yourself... Husband will follow or not. I think it will become clear to him.

Frankies Girl

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I think the biggest issue is how you both see yourselves and there is a big disconnect... You OP, see yourself as happy with much less, would be content to putter around your little house in the country and make do with used or repaired items. Your husband sees himself as a rich man trapped in a poor man's life, and wants to travel, spend on lavish events and gifts and pay someone else to do the grunt work. Problem is, he is not rich and will never be rich at the rate he's going since he's spending money he doesn't have to maintain his lifestyle - he's creating an illusion of being rich at the cost of large amounts of debt that will come crashing down on him when he can't keep bringing in the paycheck... Sounds like a big part of his ego is also tied up with the idea of spending money lavishly and having others perceive him as rich and successful, so he continues to spend as if he is rich and successful and incurring debt doing so... this is going to blow up rather badly down the line, and definitely something to discuss in counseling. The day trading thing is absolutely gambling or "get rich quick" thinking.

I do think getting a program like Mint to track your expenses for several months (both of your expenses) to see where the money is going and how much debt both of you have would be helpful. Then you could sit down and see exactly what goes where and what you're working with... Maybe seeing the full extent of your shared debts/spending would help your husband see that his lifestyle is in need of a tuneup.


MKinVA

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Start with you. You have no savings. Get your own game plan together and then maybe you can show him the way. I can understand him not wanting to move out into the country. Work out a couple of plans involving moving to the country, selling the country house and focusing on the in town house, selling the in town house and paying off the country house. Which plan will make you happy and which plan is quickest to financial freedom? Which plan will make him happy? Maybe you two can live in two separate homes if each takes care of his own. You apparently have been doing that for a long time already.

Not to be indelicate, but you need to be sensitive to the fact that he will very likely out live you by many years. He may think yea, I'd live that way while you're alive but I don't want to be out in the woods alone without you.


Alabaster

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Since the fact he wants to day trade will have alienated many people here, I'll just add in his defense that it can be a stable living. Before he goes and tries his hand using real money, though, make sure he gets a demo account, a plan and then practices - a lot (for many months of being consistently profitable). You can practice for free, forever. That way at least you have an idea if you're any good at it before you start risking any real cash.

When he treats it like a job, he may find he doesn't like it as much as he thought he would.

deborah

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Maybe I'm reading this thread wrong, but it appears to me that the issues are:
  • OP has no idea of finance - it is the bear under the bed
  • OPs husband possibly has a good idea of his finances, and tells OP occasionally, but there has never been a combined budget
  • OP likes the idea of MMM and wants to go that way but OPs husband is not happy with the idea
To me, if OP tackles the first two things, it would get them both in a better position to start thinking about their financial situation, and where they want to go for the rest of their life. It might also get them thinking about MMM and his ideas - because it sounds like they have a bit of a hole to get out of.

I suggest that OP asks her husband to help her to put her budget together, and her net worth together, so they can work together to see what they have, and where they are headed. I'm not sure they need counseling, and asking for his assistance with this will probably enable them to start discussing a combined net worth and budget, where they are going, and how they will get there.

MrsPete

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So what I'm hearing is that your husband is a typical American:  He wants to save, gain security and be prepared for his financial future -- but, at the same time, he also wants to spend as he pleases today and not be bothered with planning and budgeting. 

This is not possible. 

Reyes01

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Does Texas hold you liable for his debt? If you already have separate finances, and Texas does not hold you liable, is it possible to each contribute a set monthly amount to household costs and then you each do what you wish with the remainder of your money? That would give you the opportunity to save yours as you wish.

Psychstache

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Does Texas hold you liable for his debt? If you already have separate finances, and Texas does not hold you liable, is it possible to each contribute a set monthly amount to household costs and then you each do what you wish with the remainder of your money? That would give you the opportunity to save yours as you wish.

Community property state :(

GizmoTX

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Yes, both are liable -- TX pays no attention to separate assets & debts unless they were created before the marriage.
The OP needs to know what the husband's debt actually is.

TerriM

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This is an aside, but has marriage counseling every worked for anyone?  I ask because husband #1 and I did it and were divorced within 6 months.  Happily divorced, so maybe that was what the counseling was for?  Anyway, I know about 7 or 8 other couples where it was the same deal.  Go to counseling and get divorced.  I think that by the time you go to formal counseling it is already too late, but I would love to hear if it has actually worked for anyone.

I just see many threads here where people advise marriage or couples counseling and I think it is the polite way of saying you guys are really messed up.

Laugh.  Back in the 70s my parents went to a priest for counseling to save their marriage.  After what he heard, he recommended a divorce  They dumped the priest.  They are still married almost 50 years later.

TerriM

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There is a lot going on in your post - I'm not competent to comment on most of it.  However, this line sent shivers down my spine.

He wants to save enough money to stop working and start day-trading.

This is roughly equivalent to wanting to save enough money to stop working and start gambling.  Academic research on day trading (e.g. charting) clearly shows that day trading does not beat the market and incurs significant trading fees.

You should probably start by finding goals you and your husband can agree on (easier said than done!), but once you have common goals you should have a serious conversation about your investment strategy.

Same reaction here.  Really scary.   I like "playing" with stocks, but I absolutely do not let myself think about day-trading because I know it requires a lot more research and statistical analysis than I'm able or willing to put in.  At the very least day-trading requires the ability to walk away when you've lost your "daily allowance."  If he's ok with debt, will he really have the self-control to walk away when his "allowance" has gone to 0?

Seems like the most important thing is to get him to have an aversion to debt.

DoubleDown

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Wow, so many huge red flags in this story: high credit car debt, day trading, wanton spending, outsourcing everything... Good luck OP.  I don't know how you resolve this without him doing a major shift away from his misguided thinking. This disconnect is, in my opinion, a major problem in a marriage, and if you stay on this sinking financial ship you're going down with it.  :-(

NewMustachian

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I would do as much as I could individually with my finances - start with MMM's first article and set yourself a plan.  Lead by example.  I agree with other posters who recommend getting a clear understanding of what your financial picture is. 

With respect to your husband, it sounds like you two are at a place where even discussing finances is difficult.  If that's the case, work on getting husband to sit down and talk about finances with as little rancor as possible - even if you disagree with his point of view, listen to it and get a good understanding of his goals, views, plans, etc.  That will give you guidance on how best to persuade him to take up a mustachian lifestyle and hopefully will decrease the emotional intensity so that you can move forward. 

MKinVA

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We all seem to be jumping on husband here, but OP has admitted she doesn't really know what his financial situation is. She knows she has nothing and so wants to runaway to the country and live off??? What is your game plan regardless of your husband's situation. Exactly how will you pay the mortgage on the country house? What will you live off? Social security? I'll bet that won't pay the taxes in New York.

Don't blame your husband for your failure to pay attention to your own money. Start paying attention right now! What is your income currently? What plans are available to you for retirement savings? What are you taking advantage of now? How much social security do you qualify for? How much if you waited until full retirement age? How much would you make if you sold the country property? How much if you sold the in town property?

You need to answer these questions before you can even step foot in the right direction.

TerriM

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BTW:  In lieu of a marriage counselor, what about seeing a financial counselor?  Have him choose the person.  If he really does have a lot of debt, then the counsellor may be able to set him on the right track to debt aversion without you getting into a fight with him.  Since the communication issues are over money, start with someone with that expertise.

kib

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OP - whether you "know about money" or not, you actually sound like you're doing things right; earning decent money, small house with a small mortgage, reining in your own spending.  I have to wonder ... is your husband aware of your finances?  If you keep your accounts and info separate ... is it possible that he believes you have enough money to support his chosen lifestyle, that you're just holding out for some reason?

pbkmaine

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This is why I am no longer a financial planner. OP, you and your husband need to lay your cards on the table ASAP. With a third party if you can't talk to each other. NOT a financial planner. We are not trained for this. With a counselor. This is conflict resolution, not financial planning. You are not working together as a team, and you need to.

TerriM

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This is why I am no longer a financial planner. OP, you and your husband need to lay your cards on the table ASAP. With a third party if you can't talk to each other. NOT a financial planner. We are not trained for this. With a counselor. This is conflict resolution, not financial planning. You are not working together as a team, and you need to.

Whoops!  Sorry.

Interesting though--I think there'd be a lot of demand for people who are financial planners who have counseling training.

pbkmaine

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TerriM, most planners refer out to a counselor for issues outside the scope of a financial plan. At least the ones I respect do. I have a friend with 30 years of counseling experience and she says: "I never want to open wounds I can't close." My credentials, and I have a whole slew of them, do not help me deal with those wounds. OP and her husband are not only NOT on the same page, they do not even seem to have the most basic ability to communicate about money issues. This is a big honking deal. If they had come to me when I was a financial planner, I would have referred them out after 5 minutes. You can't do financial planning for a couple who are completely clueless about each other's financial situation.

former player

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So, OP and her husband live in Texas in a too-big house with $280,000 mortgage.  Husband earns $96,000 per annum - that's a good wage.  We don't know what OP earns or what social security entitlement she has (might be low after a decade in Europe).  We know she has no savings, and a small house in northern New York State on which she owes $56,000.  We don't know what she spends in upkeep on that house over and above the mortgage payments (a house and acreage tend to need the sort of upkeep which is difficult to do from Texas), or what she spends in travel to get there.

If I were OP, I'd stop blaming husband for the financial situation and start taking responsibility for my own situation.  Facepunches are due on having a house in upstate New York while living in Texas, on being 63 with no savings, on having a potentially limited social security entitlement with no savings to replace it, and on spending a whole lifetime thinking "I'm a hippy and money doesn't matter" and then (aged 63) thinking that it is her high-earning husband who is to blame for their failure to save.

The dream of living in a rural location on very little money is great until ill-health or the infirmities of old age kick in.

HairyUpperLip

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Also chiming in to say I believe your issues are deeper rooted than money alone in this relationship.

Good luck.

arebelspy

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I want to launch whole-heartedly into Mustachianism. I don't really care about being wealthy - but he does.

He should want to become Mustachian then - it's a surefire path!

Or does he just care about appearing wealthy?

I think you need to talk about life goals and what is important to each of you.
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TerriM

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He has no manual skills of significance and he hires out anything that needs doing in the house. .... I am more than willing to grow a garden, shop at Salvation Army, or tackle a household repair task (even if I do do it pretty badly usually...!

Now that this topic has popped back up, I've been mulling over this the first sentence....

I don't think there's anything wrong with him hiring out things around the house.  If you're willing to do them instead, that's great, but I don't think that's a bad trait for two reasons:

1.  If he's really bad at doing them, you could be in a worse situation if he messes up the fix (especially plumbing or electrical).  Better to know what you can and can't do rather than not to know that you're doing something badly.  And if you end up selling the house, a bunch of bad fixes will depreciate the value of the house.  I saw a lovely house where the realtor said "The seller is a real DIY-er.  We told her it had XYZ problem and she went right down and fixed it."  I saw the fix and wondered what else she'd "fixed."

2.  I thought it was interesting in the Millionaire Next Door (or maybe it was the sequel) that people who hire out to other specialized people make more money in the long run.  They get better at what they're good at (and are worth more as time progresses), and I suspect that they also see themselves as more worth hiring for their specialty.  If you're a jack-of-all-trades who thinks you can do anything, you're more likely to see your worth as lower because you think others can do what you can even if maybe that's not the case

I realize MMM is really into DIY and so DIY is very Mustachian.  I think some people are really good at it, and being a hands-on kind of person, the projects I've taken on have turned out better than I expected,  but I definitely recognize #2 in me as well.  And that's dollars out the door for any jobs I underbid myself on. :(

mozar

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I think it's another thread where the issues are deeper than what an online forum can address.

Spondulix

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This is an aside, but has marriage counseling every worked for anyone?  I ask because husband #1 and I did it and were divorced within 6 months.  Happily divorced, so maybe that was what the counseling was for?  Anyway, I know about 7 or 8 other couples where it was the same deal.  Go to counseling and get divorced.  I think that by the time you go to formal counseling it is already too late, but I would love to hear if it has actually worked for anyone.

I just see many threads here where people advise marriage or couples counseling and I think it is the polite way of saying you guys are really messed up.
I totally agree that when people say, "you should go get counseling," do they have any idea what that really means? Cause I have done counseling, and I wouldn't casually bring it up to someone on a forum like it's an easy solution. A counselor isn't going to fix anything - it's still up to you to deal with it. If anything, it's going to bring all of those problems more into the forefront. A good counselor just helps you find ways to work through it without getting at each other's throats!

I would say I'm a success story. It took a LOT of work (outside of counseling) - maybe one of the hardest things I've ever done. I could see how some people just don't have the energy left to put back in, or when they see the reality of what needs to be worked out (or that lifestyles are never going to align), it's better to go separate ways. My counselor told me later that most men she works with don't commit as much as DH did, so I feel very lucky. :)