The Money Mustache Community

Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Illini1 on December 18, 2014, 03:16:38 PM

Title: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Illini1 on December 18, 2014, 03:16:38 PM
Hello all this is my first post. I am about 2 years into trying to live the mustachian life and have been loving every moment of it.  The problem with this is my wife of 3.5 years really wants nothing to do with it.  When we first married she was working full time and paying all of her bills (cell phone,car,other crap which neither of us needed). About a year ago she quit her full time job because of a anxiety disorder where she could no longer handle the two hour round trip commute. While I was all for her quitting I thought she would look for another full time job closer to home. Within the past few months she has found a part time 15 hours a week job making $10.50 per hour job with no benefits other than it is less than a mile from home.  Since I haven't been able to convince her on the mustachian life we have decided to keep our finances separate where I pay for everything except her cell phone.

The real issue which I just found out last night is in regards to her spending.  She is still spending like she is making $40k instead of the $10.50 per hour she is now at. For example I just found that she has run up $10k in credit card bills (after I payed off her $4k cc bill when we married) and also borrowed $1,500 from her 401k which is now due or we will take a big tax hit plus the penalty.

When I asked her where all the money was going she responded by she needed it to live (hard to believe since I pay all bills) and some went to her sisters family to help out. I have helped them out in the past but now refuse as they are irresponsible with their money and have no inclination to change.

I am 32 with my wife being 36 and we have a 3 year old son which will be our only child.  We currently have a net worth around $150k which in the last 2 years since I found MMM has more than tripled.

My real issue is I feel like I'm the only one really planning and putting in the hard work for our future but I can't do it alone and will never get to where I want to be if I have to keep bailing out my wife or helping her family with their self made financial problems.

I know this is long but I am desperate for some advice as to what my next move should be.

Thanks.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: MooseOutFront on December 18, 2014, 03:33:53 PM
That's a tough one.  I was honestly thinking "eject" until I read the part about having a 3 yr old son.  It's vital to your future together for her to come around.  Seems like now would be a good time to join finances and approach the monthly budget as a team.  I can see why that would scare you, but in my mind it's the only way to get on the same page with adult conversations about money.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Debt Free in Alabama on December 18, 2014, 03:34:38 PM
I could go into a long story about how some folks live better when they keep their finances separated, etc. but I'll just cut to the point:
Married couples are meant to combine their lives, including (especially including!) finances.
This would be a shock in your family, so it will some preparation, but the benefits are that you have ONE budget, and you make decisions TOGETHER about how to spend/save.  You both have a vested interest in this game of life, and you'll only succeed as a couple financially if both of you are pulling the same direction.
Let me encourage you to get Dave Ramsey's "The Total Money Makevover" and work through it with your wife.  It's very Mustachian, and provides a blue print for a couple to walk, plus tips of getting a spouse involved.
Hope that helps!
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: mxt0133 on December 18, 2014, 03:36:40 PM
First are the credit cards joint accounts?  If you have any joint credit cards, cancel them, take the credit hit.  Then take her off any of your existing accounts where she is not a joint owner.  This will isolate your credit from being ruined when she can't pay off her bills.

Then I would have a heart to heart with her about what she wants for the future of your child and your marriage.  Don't talk just listen and go from there.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Future Lazy on December 18, 2014, 03:44:54 PM
I also keep my finances separate from my DH for similar reasons.

My DH has worked for Home Depot for the better part of the year, and only brings in $9.50/hr part time. He pays his half of the bills, and for any extra goodies he needs. He constantly feels broke - because he is - and it's that pressure that has pushed him to find another, and better job. However, it's taken a couple of years of therapy and spotty joblessness or underemployment to help him tackle the obstacles holding him back in that hugely destructive Anxiety Zone.

In this situation, since it's your DW, it's up to you how much of an intervention you want to stage. However, if something doesn't change, it looks like you guys might be on the rocky road to divorce - not recommended unless it's really the only option.

Does your DW see a psychologist? If not, is she willing to? Chances are, if she had a breakdown due to an anxiety disorder, she may not have fully recovered. Have you considered trying to seek out a psychologist that not only works with anxiety and mood disorders, but also is a financial psychologist?
http://www.financialtherapyassociation.org/FTA_Network.html

Can you, or are you willing to take and destroy her credit cards? That's pretty dire, but not any different than staging and intervention on an alcoholic or a drug addict. Waiting it out while she heals is only going to be bearable as long as you feel the hole isn't being dug any deeper (or, that's how it's been in my situation,), but even if you destroy all her ability to spend more than she makes, she may very well still continue to try to get more credit. Although, after her credit score tanks due to past due bills... You get the idea.

From your story, it's true that you're the only one able to plan and work toward financial wellness, but it certainly sounds like your DW has bigger wellness fish to fry than financial ones. Having patience while she does this is going to be a struggle (from experience!). I got my DH to go to therapy by going myself, and sharing the experience with him if he wanted to hear about it. After about a year, he decided to start going as well. I still go, for some PTSD, but mostly for guidance on how to be patient with DH while he heals emotionally from his own abusive experiences. This year he paid off all his debt and kept a permenent job, and next year he'll be starting a new job making more money and learning more about how to manage himself.

If the DW isn't willing to look her demons in the face, though, and isn't willing to replace the obsessive spending bandaid with therapy tools and proper healing... I don't know what other advice to give, other than to take the money - and the kiddo - and run...
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Kaptain on December 18, 2014, 03:56:54 PM
What kind of treatment is she getting for the anxiety disorder?  Counseling?  Even if the long commute was a major part of it, and that is now gone, perhaps she is still struggling. 

I wonder if your wife's extra spending is at least partially a coping mechanism/stress relief/way to deal with her anxiety.  I know when I tune up my mental health, everything else gets better.   
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Chranstronaut on December 18, 2014, 04:18:27 PM
I'm sorry for the conflict in your marriage.  It sounds like both individual and couple's counseling might be a good fit for you guys, as this financial disagreement seems to be only one part of the equation.  There have been some other threads with folks in a similar position, and reading their stories might help give you some more ideas.

Some people on the forums here like to have "finance dates" where they sit down together, maybe with some food and wine, and have the TOUGH conversations for a set amount of time.  You know, those conversations you really don't want to have and make you feel nervous just thinking about.  I think this is a great idea, but will require learning to have civil and serious discourse, which might be helped by a professional therapist/councilor.  And always remember that the success of the conversation is not by YOU being heard, or for anyone to be "right', but that both people walking away with greater understanding of each other.

I'd also recommend that you both invest in understanding each others' differences by reading some good books together.  I liked 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and their discussion the difference between simply compromising and of working a problem from the same side of the table to achieve a "win-win."
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: BCBiker on December 18, 2014, 04:54:09 PM
It sounds like your overall financial picture is pretty good so I don't think that talks of divorce is appropriate.  My suspicion is that extreme anxiety is driving her behavior and that unless you understand that, you will not be able to help her.

I am by no means an expert, but I deal with this in my life to a less extreme extent.  Make sure that you make it clear that you care more about her than you care about the money. Mustachianism is addictive but don't let it cloud the entire picture. She and your son are more important!

Only once you have established this can you have a positive impact on her. Once you force her into being defensive you will never get to the bottom of it. You showing frustration with her behaviour will make it worse. Talk to her about the symptoms of anxiety: fast heart rate, headaches, stomach symptoms, unexplained pains, fatigue.  Then talk to her about how she deals with these symptoms.  Most likely she will tell you that when she buys things, it helps relieve these symptoms temporarily but the symptoms come back.  Then you can help her understand that spending is not a good "treatment" for these symptoms; and in fact, spending only makes things worse. In most people's opinion, debt is stressful and anxiety provoking!

At this point you can explore ways to help her relieve stress that are less destructive than spending: massage, yoga, running. Medications are also available but I would try other things first. As others have alluded to, this is an addiction just like gambling, alcohol, drugs.  She will relapse but you just have to be understanding.

Find ways to reward her when she goes without spending, like special dinners or a vacation. Remember these things will be less expensive than the mindless spending she is likely doing right now. Also, you will also share in the reward. Even Mustachians like vacations!

I hope this helps and good luck! :)
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: TerriM on December 18, 2014, 05:29:24 PM
Wow.  I'm so sorry you're going through this.

I think I'd go with Debt Free in Alabama's plan for a start--see if it would be possible to combine your accounts so that there's more openness about the spending.  In a way, having separate spending gives you the misimpression that you have separate finances, when you might not if you're actually responsible for her debt by state law. 

I would get rid of both your and her credit cards (only fair that you both do the same thing), only keeping one for household/grocerie, and convert to an allowance with bank account system for discretionary spending.  Transfer money in each month, but make sure you can't go below 0--no borrowing from the future.  That way she does have her own spending money, but she has to limit herself each month. My husband had us do the same thing, and it was the best thing we ever did.   Discretionary spending has a limit each month, and neither of us has to justify what we buy to the other.    Make sure you have a list of what comes out of the house budget and what comes out of discretionary.  For example, eating out was a problem for us, so it now comes out of discretionary.  But a new washer/dryer if the old ones broke, medical, and clothes (because we have no problem underspending on clothes) come out of household for us.

I don't know what to say regarding the in-laws.  You don't want her sneaking money off to them, but you don't want to give them a lot.  You'll have to have a real heart to heart talk about this. 

How are you guys dealing with baby care for the 3yo?  Would it be cheaper for her just to stay home or is he staying with the relatives during work hours?  If so, are you paying them?  Would she want to stay home if she still had some spending money?
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Illini1 on December 18, 2014, 05:39:40 PM
What kind of treatment is she getting for the anxiety disorder?  Counseling?  Even if the long commute was a major part of it, and that is now gone, perhaps she is still struggling. 

I wonder if your wife's extra spending is at least partially a coping mechanism/stress relief/way to deal with her anxiety.  I know when I tune up my mental health, everything else gets better.

She has received counseling in the past with mixed results as it at least helped her get out of bed and off the coach. She has also been on medication since before we met.  It never really crossed my mind that maybe her spending is a coping device. 

The real issue I believe at hand is not her anxiety but rather her spend thrift sisters family who spend $500 to play in a hockey league or $800 on landscaping and when the bills come at the end of the months cry poor and ask for help from my wife who always gives in.  I have tried to convince her of the ridiculousness in all that and she told me she has told them she is no longer to help. Which I told them myself shortly after lending them $1000 over 2 years ago which I have never seen a cent repaid back.

I think my best bet is to cancel the credit card which is in my wife's name.
Keep a better eye on my wife's spending while also involving her in the family's finances so she can see what exactly it takes to run our household.
Try to convince her to pick up more part time work while also sitting down with her family and let them know of the hardship they are putting us in and seeing if they are ab,e to start repaying the loans that were given to them.

Thoughts or suggestions on this plan?
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Illini1 on December 18, 2014, 05:44:28 PM
Wow.  I'm so sorry you're going through this.

I think I'd go with Debt Free in Alabama's plan for a start--see if it would be possible to combine your accounts so that there's more openness about the spending.  In a way, having separate spending gives you the misimpression that you have separate finances, when you might not if you're actually responsible for her debt by state law. 

I would get rid of both your and her credit cards (only fair that you both do the same thing), only keeping one for household/grocerie, and convert to an allowance with bank account system for discretionary spending.  Transfer money in each month, but make sure you can't go below 0--no borrowing from the future.  That way she does have her own spending money, but she has to limit herself each month. My husband had us do the same thing, and it was the best thing we ever did.   Discretionary spending has a limit each month, and neither of us has to justify what we buy to the other.    Make sure you have a list of what comes out of the house budget and what comes out of discretionary.  For example, eating out was a problem for us, so it now comes out of discretionary.  But a new washer/dryer if the old ones broke, medical, and clothes (because we have no problem underspending on clothes) come out of household for us.

I don't know what to say regarding the in-laws.  You don't want her sneaking money off to them, but you don't want to give them a lot.  You'll have to have a real heart to heart talk about this. 

How are you guys dealing with baby care for the 3yo?  Would it be cheaper for her just to stay home or is he staying with the relatives during work hours?  If so, are you paying them?  Would she want to stay home if she still had some spending money?

I like the allowance idea and will look into further.  We don't have any child care expense as our work schedules for the most part don't overlap and if they occasionally do then my mom watches my son free of charge.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: former player on December 18, 2014, 05:45:33 PM
It sounds as though your wife had a period of time when she was working full time, commuting two hours a day and looking after a two year old child, and it got too much for her.  I am not surprised.  I suspect that currently as well as working part-time she is currently doing most of the housework and doing most of the caring for a three year old child.  That is still a pretty heavy workload.

I am also a bit concerned that your interest in mustachianism may have come across to your wife in ways you probably didn't intend.  For instance, if she hasn't had a budget or access to money for personal spending, or spending on your child, which she feels is a need (or a want) then how else can she deal with that other than by putting the spending on credit cards?

I agree with mxt1033: you need to sit down and talk about your lives with your wife, about how things are currently working, and how you each want them to work in the future. You both need to practice active listening - when one of you says something, the other tells them what they have just said - which sounds silly and repetitive, but it ensures that what has been said has been heard and understood and that the person who has said it has the reassurance that it has been heard and understood.   For instance, if your wife says "I'm not happy doing all the housework" you then say "you are not happy doing all the housework".  The result is that you both understand the same thing, which means that you can then work on how you will deal with it.

Good luck
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: TerriM on December 18, 2014, 06:00:09 PM
What kind of treatment is she getting for the anxiety disorder?  Counseling?  Even if the long commute was a major part of it, and that is now gone, perhaps she is still struggling. 

I wonder if your wife's extra spending is at least partially a coping mechanism/stress relief/way to deal with her anxiety.  I know when I tune up my mental health, everything else gets better.

She has received counseling in the past with mixed results as it at least helped her get out of bed and off the coach. She has also been on medication since before we met.  It never really crossed my mind that maybe her spending is a coping device. 

The real issue I believe at hand is not her anxiety but rather her spend thrift sisters family who spend $500 to play in a hockey league or $800 on landscaping and when the bills come at the end of the months cry poor and ask for help from my wife who always gives in.  I have tried to convince her of the ridiculousness in all that and she told me she has told them she is no longer to help. Which I told them myself shortly after lending them $1000 over 2 years ago which I have never seen a cent repaid back.

Go with the allowance system, and then tell her:  "You're free to help them out, but it comes out of your allowance.  If you think it's important that they have these things, it's your choice and you can allocate your allowance that way."

Just see how fast she stops lending them money when it's her pleasure vs. theirs. 

PS:  To be clear, one of the important things is that you can save allowance month-to-month--anything unspent is hers to keep for the future.  This teaches the "save" habit, not the "I better spend it all or I'll lose it" habit.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: TerriM on December 18, 2014, 06:39:51 PM
I think my best bet is to cancel the credit card which is in my wife's name.
Keep a better eye on my wife's spending while also involving her in the family's finances so she can see what exactly it takes to run our household.
Try to convince her to pick up more part time work while also sitting down with her family and let them know of the hardship they are putting us in and seeing if they are ab,e to start repaying the loans that were given to them.

Thoughts or suggestions on this plan?

I don't think you should ask her to take on more work unless you really need the extra $$, and even then I'd wait until she offers.  One of the previous posters talked about it, but if she's doing all the housework and childcare and then staying up late working, she may be exhausted.  It could make  her anxiety issues worse.  I've had that experience myself, though it takes a nasty cold with no sleep for a couple of days to do it to me, but I was afraid that if I laid down to sleep, I'd stop breathing and die.   Very interesting experience I don't care to repeat.

Also, it may all pass.  I haven't had anxiety attacks since my last pregnancy.  But I do better about getting a lot of sleep.  Sometimes exercise helps people a lot too.  Getting enough sunlight has also helped my mood a lot.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: mozar on December 18, 2014, 07:42:10 PM
I recommend the 9 principles of marriage by Gottman. Money problems are just a symptom of bigger problems,  which are born of/ triggered by and interrelated with family issues. Has your wife tried cognitive behavioral therapy? I read Feeling Good, which helped.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: KBecks2 on December 18, 2014, 09:24:07 PM
I agree with the team approach, and that you and she need to talk about your money as part of your life together, your shared goals and dreams and values.

One thing that has helped my husband and I is tracking in Mint, all of our accounts, so each of us can log in and see the spending and the income.  It has helped us have an easy thing to see and it has helped us have conversations about what we're doing.

Dave Ramsey is a great coach.  He also gives great advice about not lending money to family.  You may want to try listening to his podcast together, or looking at his books, or going to Financial Peace classes together.

Teamwork and communication are difficult, but it's worth working on it!   Be a team and work together.  It's important that you respect each other and treat each other as adults and that you don't place restrictions or treat her like a child.  You two make decisions together and agree on a plan.  Maybe you will both be inspired by goals like saving for your child's education, or planning a fun and low-cost vacation.  Or learning skills to improve your quality of life, like cooking or some home improvement project.

I would not expect the relatives to pay you back.  I think you may want to distance yourselves from these leeches, limit your availability to them, and have a plan of what to say if they ask for your money.  Just don't send it! 

Best wishes for your family!
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: TerriM on December 18, 2014, 10:56:10 PM
I would not expect the relatives to pay you back.  I think you may want to distance yourselves from these leeches, limit your availability to them, and have a plan of what to say if they ask for your money.  Just don't send it! 

"I'm sorry.  We're broke.  We lent some people some money and never got paid back." :P

Part of her anxiety may be having no control or say in the house finances.   Perhaps by making her a partner in these decisions, she will feel less anxious and more in control.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Allie on December 18, 2014, 11:30:01 PM
At first I thought, "that poor man, his wife is spending all of his money." 

Then I thought, wait a second.   

So, over the past two years since you tightened the belt, you have saved 100,000 and she spent 11,500 plus whatever she made at a poorly paying part time job?  WTF dude.

My husband makes the money.  All the money.  His job pays all the bills.  Even my cell phone!  Then I take the money he earns and go spend it on whatever we need.  I happen to be the more mustachian of the two of us, so this never caused a problems, but I can only imagine what I would tell him if he told me that I wasn't frugal enough, needed to care for our children and oh, by the way, if I want to have spending money I should go out and get a job.  Especially if I was struggling with crippling anxiety and mood issues.

You need to take the time to get on the same page as your wife about your spending priorities (this does not mean make her super mustachian like you are), set up some common goals, and find a compromise or you may end up paying her quite a bit more than 10% of your savings. 




Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: TerriM on December 19, 2014, 10:25:21 AM
+100 Allie.

My question is how much she wants to be a stay-at-home mom right now.  There's a reason she didn't pick up a full-time job closer.  Maybe she doesn't trust her mother with her son 40 hours a week?  Maybe she wants to be the mom and spend the time with him, not his grandmother.   If this were my situation, I'd be pretty resentful.   And that kind of resentment can cause extra spending.  It's her 401K, and she probably figured she'd saved it, so now she's going to spend it. 

There's a lot of issues that come with being a mom.  Aside from lack of sleep, and being point-man for kid-melt downs, there's a feeling of being second to everything and lack-of-control.  My husband's generally a nice guy, but I can't tell you how pissed it made me to have him tell me he didn't want to pay for life insurance because he'd get enough through his work policy if he died and I'd just get a job.  We have three kids, and he could leave me pregnant with a fourth.  And I'm going to just get a job?   (Plus he could end up out of work before he died, so where would that leave me then? "Well, you could ask my parents for help."  Oh man... no thanks)  What happened to "Don't worry honey, if something goes wrong, you'll be taken care of"?  But the biggest fear is trying to find a job that would pay even close to what he brings in if he died.  There's a big feeling of helplessness and anxiety there when you become responsible for a kid.    I do mental disaster management planning weekly--what if he dies, what would I do, where would I go, would I continue to rent or to buy? etc.  He doesn't get why I do these things, but I gotta have a plan just in case life spins out of control.

The only problem I see here is the giving money to the sisters.  But the anxiety is definitely valid.  I'm glad to see so many threads where the wives say "no way I'd quit.  What would happen to me if we get divorced???"  Yeah. I get it.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: jo552006 on December 19, 2014, 12:58:28 PM
I have thought about this quite some bit since I read your post.  As with everything, nobody on this forum is in your shoes. I am trying to see both sides here.  Maybe your wife has always resented not having enough time at home with your son and this is her way of getting it.  Maybe she really can't handle the 40k/year job stress.  Maybe she feels like you control spending too tightly.  Maybe she's out of control.  I won't try to guess as to your specific situation, and only YOU can determine where the truth lies.  I will say the following:

1. Always be/strive to be Reasonable, Respectful and Responsible.  A marriage counselor told my wife and myself this.  Probably the worst counselor ever, but at least this much she had right.  If both parties are being/striving to be these 3 things, that is a good start.

2. You have done great saving 100k!  Keep this fact in mind, that you're already doing better than average.

3. Discuss what you wife WANTS in her life.  I believe this whole site is about seeking happiness, not necessarily retiring early.  If her fundamental wants in life don't line up with yours, then that needs to be addressed.  Maybe she doesn't value retiring early over spending time with your young child.  That in itself is not unreasonable (See #1 above)...

4. Even when finances are split, I do not believe racking up credit card debt without the other person knowing is not good. (CC debt is never good, but hiding it is worse...)  PERSONALLY, even though my wife and I have similar goals, we still sometimes have trouble with having our finances together.  I would not recommend combining finances until she is being reasonable, respectful and responsible.  There is a level of trust (responsible-ness) that must come with joint finances.  I don't believe there is ANY* way 401k withdrawals and credit cards debt unbeknownst to a husband is reasonable, respectful, or responsible. (*caveat: With the implied assumption this is a non-abusive relationship)

5. While you need to work out all the issues you have mentioned, not putting the 401k money back and paying not paying off her CC debt when you have the money may be biting your nose off to spite your face.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: tweezers on December 19, 2014, 01:36:50 PM
My husband stays at home with our 3 and 5 year old and I am the sole income earner, but if the situation was reversed and he proposed giving me an "allowance" from his earnings, I'm fairly certain I'd tell him to shove it.  Sit down with your wife and have a conversation about financial goals (not just yours) so that you are working together in a partnership rather than one as overseer/subordinate.  Destroying her credits cards isn't helpful to developing this kind of relationship.  Finally, caring for a child (especially a 3 year old) is a job, and one that can be very trying without existing anxiety issues. 
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Static Void on December 19, 2014, 01:53:00 PM
We currently have a net worth around $150k which in the last 2 years since I found MMM has more than tripled.

Lots of great personal advice above... aligning two spirits is never easy.

Just wanted to add in: Tripled your net worth in the last two years minus a 10k credit card accident?? You are doing great! Big picture.

Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: TerriM on December 19, 2014, 02:06:12 PM
My husband stays at home with our 3 and 5 year old and I am the sole income earner, but if the situation was reversed and he proposed giving me an "allowance" from his earnings, I'm fairly certain I'd tell him to shove it.  Sit down with your wife and have a conversation about financial goals (not just yours) so that you are working together in a partnership rather than one as overseer/subordinate.  Destroying her credits cards isn't helpful to developing this kind of relationship.  Finally, caring for a child (especially a 3 year old) is a job, and one that can be very trying without existing anxiety issues.

For us it's a mutual thing--Money comes in as a family, allowances are given out to the family.   That would be the same thing I'd propose to them.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Cassie on December 19, 2014, 03:25:56 PM
In your wife's situation I thinking working p.t. is perfect.  she has enough on her plate without needing to do more. 
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Chuck on December 19, 2014, 05:05:17 PM
Do you still love her? If not, gather evidence of her irresponsibility, bring it to a lawyer, and then divorce her and sue for custody of your child. Move on with your life and find someone else who shares your values.

If you do love her, seek counseling and pray she doesn't divorce you and take your son and half the stache.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Bob W on December 19, 2014, 05:34:38 PM
Google Willard Harleys book.   His needs her needs. a must read.   You are responsible for financially supporting your family.   Your wife can spend her income on anything she likes.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Chuck on December 19, 2014, 05:37:24 PM
Google Willard Harleys book.   His needs her needs. a must read.   You are responsible for financially supporting your family.   Your wife can spend her income on anything she likes.
The issue seems to be that she isn't spending her income.

She's spending her income and accumulating 5 digits in credit card debt AND taking out loans against her 401k... all without his prior knowledge.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: TerriM on December 19, 2014, 06:58:25 PM
Google Willard Harleys book.   His needs her needs. a must read.   You are responsible for financially supporting your family.   Your wife can spend her income on anything she likes.
The issue seems to be that she isn't spending her income.

She's spending her income and accumulating 5 digits in credit card debt AND taking out loans against her 401k... all without his prior knowledge.

They had/have separate finances.  By accepting that, he agreed not to know.  Just sayin'....
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Allie on December 19, 2014, 11:51:43 PM
So, I've taken a breather and hope this will be helpful advice.

Your wife works for 20(?) hours per week at 10.50 per hour.  Do you know what she is bringing in net?  Maybe 8-10k? 

For that amount, you're missing out on 20 hours per week of time as a family, she's running from spending the day with a 3.5 year old (I have one and I know they can be difficult) to a part time job, which means she is "on" and working at least 60 hours of her week and so are you.

Is it really worth it?  Instead of cutting her cards and questioning your relationship, why not try a different tactic.  Sit down with her and budget out having her stay home full time with reasonable expectations for saving and spending.  Give it a trial run of a couple months and then, if she can stick to the budget while she is working, give her the green light to be a SAHM.  Take the time to explain that you want to save and adjust your lifestyle so you can go part time or stay at home too.  You may have to budget in "fun money" for both of you, but it would be a mutual decision that both of you would have to live by, not your decision for her.  (Hint, she should get more because she's not as frugal as you are and you need to keep the peace).

May I suggest you link everything up together, even if you don't actually combine finances, through mint or another similar tool, so you can both have a good read on the family finances as spending happens.  You need to work to strengthen your relationship and support of each other, not erode it. 

Finally, your presentation of your wife has been not altogether flattering.  I know posting can make it difficult to convey exactly what you want to, but your description of her giving to her sister, dealing with anxiety, and spending behind your back came across to me as you thinking she is lazy, weak willed, and devious.  It wasn't until I thought about her experiences commuting for hours, pregnant, post partum, anxious, and tired that I reevaluated.  Pregnancy and small children can make the sanest of us bat shit crazy.  You need to cut her a huge amount of slack.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: LouLou on December 20, 2014, 05:22:56 PM
I see major marriage issues here:
1. Serious lack of communication - Separate finances require more communication than combined. You two are not communicating at all.
2. Anxiety issues - You two need to address this together.
3. Serious lack of empathy - It doesn't seem like she appreciates how her financial choices are affecting you. It doesn't see like you appreciate how terrible her situation is.

You two are not a team, but you need to be. You need to have the same goals, which may require compromise on the separate, individual goals that you are pursuing. Marriage doesn't work any other way, in my opinion. If you continue on your current path, you will both be miserable, filled with resentment.

The specific financial steps will follow from your joint goals - is she going to work full time or be a SAHM? Do you want to retire early or later?

Another point - don't get her an "allowance." That is patronizing, even though she's made financial mistakes. You are both human, you will both make mistakes during the course of your marriage. You should definitely have a "fun money" amount though. My husband and I have a set amount (equal) that we know we can spend without affecting our budget. Family loans should come out of the fun money.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: hunniebun on December 20, 2014, 07:36:36 PM
I can somewhat relate to your post, as my husband is not mustachian either and trying to get his to see the light has been a slow process.  I think you should congratulate yourself that you have done so much on your own and if you could get her on board even half-way would help you make even more progress!  In the past few years in trying to address the disparity in spending I have learned a few things. One is that you cannot make do something they don't want to do.  Telling someone to stop spending money is like telling someone who is overweight that they are fat and expecting them to want to lose weight.  I have been trying to create a vision of what life could be like and motivating him that way.  Maybe instead of focusing on the money and spending, try focusing on what you want your lives to look like for you and your son.  Then work backwards together of how you can achieve that.  Does she have any dreams or goals?  Finding these out might be a process especially for someone who has a mental illness because fear and doubt likely put up mental road blocks.  Once you have a common vision, hopefully directing the spending on things that help you all reach the vision will be easier, because you both agreed. So when you see spending on something that isn't helping to achieve the goal, a gentle reminder of what you agreed to might be enough to help her stay on track (including lending to family!) Help and support her family in any way you can...except with cash handouts!    What ever you try I hope it works out!  Oh...and just my two cents on an allowance. I don't think this is the way to go unless you both have one because if she is the only one on an allowance it creates an inequality between you and focusing on a partnership to reach common goals is a better approach.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: TerriM on December 20, 2014, 09:37:05 PM
I'm sorry guys. I'm the one that suggested the allowance, and I'll say it again, we *all* have an allowance in our family.  I normally call it "My personal fund", but I figured everyone thought of it as an "allowance" so that's what I called it.

I also said in my post that both parties have to give up the credit card, not just her.  It's only fair.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Thegoblinchief on December 21, 2014, 05:11:33 AM
I'm not a fan of separate finances, but even those who are still "make" each partner pay towards each bill, typically proportionally to their income. Running up cc debt, especially if you're in a community property state, is a huge no-no.

I've become a fan of finance dates. We run our budget monthly, so we sit down at the end of the month to "close" the budget. We have set rules about what percentage gets saved towards what, but I always let my wife have the choice to veto or adjust something. Sometimes I'm the one who needs to adjust something.

I'll respectfully disagree with the person who suggested active listening. Active listening is terrible. True empathic listening is much, much deeper. The whole book "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" is wonderful, but you can skip to the chapter 'seek first to understand, then be understood'.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Miss Prim on December 22, 2014, 06:11:34 AM
I have to admit, I haven't read most of the responses to your post.  The one piece of advice, and I speak from experience, is please keep your wife working at least part-time.  If she has anxiety issues and she gives up working all together, she most likely will never work again. 

I had a bad bout of anxiety, depression issues in my 40's and was off work for 3 months.  I had no choice but to go back to work, but even thinking about it was very crippling!  I was a wreck my first day back, but then it got easier.  If I had quit work, I most likely would have never worked again, it was that frightening to me. 

For you sake and for her's, have her keep working.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: CommonCents on December 22, 2014, 06:59:48 AM
When you say you pay all of her bills except cell, is that actually true?  Look at her cc to see if she's spending on groceries, doctor visits and the like. Presumably, if she was spending a ton on clothes you'd have noticed, so start from the assumption that you maybe miscalculated the bills and some of your savings the past two years may have been from ignoring household bills. And tally up how much she's given family because it may surprise her and help her develop the willpower to say no - or at least "I will have to get back to you on your request. DH and I make our money decisions together."
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: MayDay on December 22, 2014, 09:37:05 AM
As a SAHM who is just getting back into the workforce (at 10.20$ an hour no less!) I will agree with both the PP about staying in the workforce, and also the posters who said 40 hours a week of SAHM plus 20 hours of work at night is too much. 

Instead I would propose that she works at the same time as you, and you spend as much of her income as needed on childcare.  Getting out of the house and interacting with adults is a great feeling!  Not spending your entire day rotating between cleaning up messes, playing pretend, negotiating with terrorists (3 year olds), and then cleaning up more messes is an incredible feeling!  Who cares if all her income goes to childcare, you clearly make enough and then some given you've saved 150k in three years.  Focus on what would be good for the mental health and happiness of the family one term.  Her making 8-10k a year probably isn't it.  And in a couple years when your child is in free public school, anything your wife brings home will be a nice bonus. 

(Obviously you also need to do all other stuff around helping her get mental health care, and getting on the same page with finances). 
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Forcus on December 22, 2014, 12:56:32 PM
This is not about the money... controlling the money will be a fruitless effort. The money is a coping mechanism.

Of course no one can know the full details of the situation but it seems to me there is an obvious mental health issue. If you care about / love her, work on that first..
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Illini1 on March 01, 2015, 01:51:39 PM
I just wanted to share the latest update and again get everyone's input and advice. Since my last post my wife's final credit card debt has now reached $15,000. For the first two months of trying to pay this down I was having her give me half of her $10.50 hr paycheck which was not even covering the minimum payments. I was then chipping in what i could....around $300-$400 per month. I then reduced my 401k contribution from 20% to 7% which is the minimum I can do and still receive the max match.  Also after looking into further I am in the process of doing a cash out refinance where I should be receiving around $13,000 shortly.

I feel like I am taking a huge step backwards in my life both financially and mentally.  And this was all before she told me that she abruptly quit her part time job without first consulting me.  While she was only making $10.50 an hr while working 15-20 hrs per week that was money that I was counting on to help pay off her debt. When I asked her how she could do that at such a time in our lives she replied by saying they weren't paying her enough for the amount of work they were expecting from her.  She has been looking for another job for the past month however I dont really see her worrying too much about it.  She spends roughly 3-4 hrs a week looking online.

A couple of weeks ago my mom offered to pay off my wife's credit card bill with the only requirement that she sit down with her and teach her about budgeting and finances. My moms motivation behind this was to ensure that after helping my wife would not be back in the same place in a couple of years. I was reluctant at first but when I brought the idea up to my wife she responded by saying that she would rather get hit by a train than to listen to someone else about how to spend her money. She also said that if her parents were to ever give us money (which they will never be able to) that they would never tell us how to spend it.

I feel like I'm in a no win position. How do I help someone who doesn't want to help themselves? This whole ordeal has affected me in numerous ways. Lack of sleep,constantly worrying, lack of appetite etc. we really didn't have the best of marriage before this ( I proposed after I found out she was pregnant).  We aren't really even talking much at home and I only try to put on a happy face around my three year old.

Does anyone have advise for me or do I alrady know the answer to this question?
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: 2Birds1Stone on March 01, 2015, 02:06:58 PM
I really hate to give this kind of advice. I am the child of parents who could literally be you and your wife. I would run for the hills. Cut your losses. Find someone who is on the same page as you with the more important things in life. It sounds like neither one of you is happy, you have fundamentally different values, needs, and wants.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: crispy on March 01, 2015, 02:07:37 PM
You need marriage counseling.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: kiwigirls on March 01, 2015, 02:10:47 PM
MIL advice is a terrible idea if your marriage has problems.  I can see why your wife rejected the suggestion.  Realise that the money issue is just a symptom of your wider problems.  It may be the one you are focused on because it seems like an easy win - ie its just a debt repayment issue.  But you will only have another debt/401k withdrawal issue to deal with if you don't get the marriage back on track.  Get some marriage guidance and decide if you two want to make a go of it & then develop joint goals.  Her working & spending can then be worked out in line with those joint goals.  Divorce can be expensive & your NW automatically halves so if you have a marriage that is worth saving putting the time into it is a great financial investment!
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: kudy on March 01, 2015, 02:13:28 PM
You need marriage counseling.

100% agree; find a good counselor that can help foster real, non-hostile communication about money. Maybe see if your mom would be willing to help pay for the counseling? I've had great success with this strategy; while my SO and I aren't on exactly the same page, we're miles closer than we were 1-2 years ago.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: justajane on March 01, 2015, 02:20:38 PM
Can you clarify what the credit card debt is from? Is it unnecessary expenses? Or is it groceries or other items for the family as a whole? The whole set-up you have sounds very paternalistic. Perhaps she deserves this treatment if she is blowing hundreds of dollars on handbags, shoes, or salon trips, but I would like to have a clearer picture of what the debt is from before I think about how I would advise you.

But, +1 to the idea that the mother-in-law is a terrible idea. In general, venting to your parents about your wife is probably a bad idea. Find a friend instead, or a place like this.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Illini1 on March 01, 2015, 02:31:21 PM
Justajane-from what I can gather maybe ten percent and I'm stretching that could be classified as household goods that we really needed (groceries,clothes for my son,gas). The rest was spent on clothes for her, bills for her spend thrit family and eating out or going out with a similar spend thrift friend.  I also don't usually vent to my mother about marital issues but she could see something was bothering me and I just crumbled and told her everything. She was supportive and told me she supports me in whatever choice I choose is best for my son and I.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Frankies Girl on March 01, 2015, 02:35:57 PM
You need marriage counseling.

+1000

If your wife refuses to stop spending to the point of running up serious debts, and refuses to listen to you or anyone else, you really don't have a working marriage because she is determined to have her own way even if it destroys everything else around her. She is being selfish and immature, and basically doesn't belong in a marriage if she's unwilling to see how destructive she is being to your relationship, your future and herself.

Get counseling now. Either with her, or without her to help you decide whether you want to stay in this marriage.

Oh, and she's not an unmustacian wife - she is in a self-destructive spiral and in denial that she is using money to reward/medicate herself - and getting defensive and hostile about being confronted by it. Unless she is willing to stop everything and get into serious counseling, you can't fix this on your own, and will be pulled under by her as well.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: justajane on March 01, 2015, 02:49:49 PM
Ah, thanks. That is a serious problem. Why don't you do a March pledge to go entirely without plastic? Withdraw whatever you think is a reasonable amount for each of you, and put the credits cards on ice or whatever. If it is something that both of you do, it won't come across as something you are doing to her but rather a joint effort to get your spending under control.

But +1000 on the marriage counseling.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: RetiredAt63 on March 01, 2015, 02:50:13 PM
Lots of good advice here.  When I had a young child I blessed daycare (the joys of adult company at work are true for moms too).  I wish I had had a cleaning service as well, I was exhausted for years.

One more thing.  I was at a wedding once where the priest, in his sermon, pointed out that "forsaking all others" means that your spouse comes first and your future children come second.  By extension, this means that parents and siblings are no longer high priority for a married couple the way they would be for a single person.  If your wife goes to church/temple/mosque, could this shift in priorities for her (and of course for you) be discussed with her by her minister/priest/rabbi/imam? Plus if you can get a planned joint financial future going with her, this insight as to her shift in priorities may give her a good way out of giving her family money.

Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: wtjbatman on March 01, 2015, 05:13:17 PM
You need marriage counseling.

The kind spelled d i v o r c e
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: caliq on March 01, 2015, 05:41:26 PM
Holy crap, if my husband suggested I get a 'how to adult' lecture from my MIL I'd be screaming about divorce right then, even without any underlying issues. 

I don't know how many of the previous posters have personally dealt with anxiety or depression, but there are so many red flags in what you're describing about your wife's behavior.  You clamping down on her about finances and making insinuations at divorce (and trust me, if she knows you've discussed your marital problems with your mother, she's absolutely thinking that you're gearing up to leave her; and considering she has anxiety, she's probably way more freaked out about it than she'd ever let you see). 

She needs to be in individual therapy on a regular basis, you both need to be in couple's therapy on a regular basis, and you need to chill out a bit about your finances. 

What percentage of the credit card debt was spent on helping out her family? 

What percentage was spent on eating out with friends?

These things are important because it's very likely that if she's having serious anxiety/depression issues, she sees these things as her only way to maintain connections with people she cares about outside your home.  A social life is very important, and even more so for people with mental health issues. 

Honestly even the clothes shopping can be a coping mechanism. 

You really should have approached this from a mental health stand point, not a financial one. 

Edit: Whoops, I got so irate about the thought of my husband telling me to get financial counseling from my MIL that I totally missed that this was a shotgun wedding.  That kind of changes my position, in that I definitely think you have some more serious thinking to do about whether or not you should even be in this relationship in the first place.  I was previously operating under the assumption that you had at some point loved this woman enough to consciously choose to spend the rest of your life with her, and I was really confused as to why you were being so harsh and judge-y...but now I kinda get it. 
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: G-dog on March 01, 2015, 05:54:14 PM
I am sorry that this situation has not improved. Only you know what the right answer is for you and your son, but I hope you do get counseling for at least yourself. If she will go too, that is great, but you need some objective support no matter what.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Cpa Cat on March 01, 2015, 06:14:39 PM
( I proposed after I found out she was pregnant). 

Supposing you could fix the financial issues - is this actually someone you want to be married to?

Counseling can probably help you find the answer to that question. But you should answer it. Because your course of action will be different if this is a marriage you want to exit from vs if this is a marriage you want to save.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Thegoblinchief on March 01, 2015, 06:29:13 PM
( I proposed after I found out she was pregnant). 

Supposing you could fix the financial issues - is this actually someone you want to be married to?

Counseling can probably help you find the answer to that question. But you should answer it. Because your course of action will be different if this is a marriage you want to exit it from vs if this is a marriage you want to save.

Yeah, that line struck out at me as well. My wife and I got married while she was 5 months pregnant, but it wasn't a "shotgun" wedding at all. We'd been engaged for three years already.

In this situation, you probably need individual counseling for both of you, and couples counseling. Though of course that costs $$$.

Tough situation, mate. Best of luck finding the right path.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: rothnroll on March 01, 2015, 06:30:04 PM
Jeesh dude.
Seperate finances because you can't trust her?
Forget about it.
Eject-
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Janie on March 01, 2015, 06:47:33 PM
One thing to bear in mind is that you'll be co-parenting a child no matter the status of your marriage. I think getting an outside perspective from an experienced counselor might be very valuable even if (maybe even especially if) you're considering divorce. Even if you decide it's the best course, it's not likely to be a quick and easy solution, or even the end of a relationship. Best of luck to you all.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: SpendyMcSpend on March 01, 2015, 06:54:47 PM
A few things jump out at me:

1) Do you love your wife?  It sounds like no from the way you speak about her.
2) Are both/either of you from dysfunctional families (or with alcoholism)?  It sounds like there is a ton of mental health issues, enabling, controlling, blaming and other things going on here from BOTH OF YOU.
3) Your finances should be combined.  It sounds like she perceives you as telling her what to do/telling her that she is lazy, bad with money, etc.  This is what I'm hearing from your posts.  No wonder she doesn't want to listen.
4) If she's too anxious to work, then that is a serious mental health issue that needs addressing.  You two should go to Al-anon or counseling if there are those types of issues here.
5) Your mother giving her financial advice is a really bad idea.  It's more lecturing from your side of the family. 

A better way might be to have her listen to Dave Ramsey podcasts (just have them on in the house not force her to listen), or leave some financial books around if she likes to read.  Bring up things in a more light-hearted way.

Cleaning up the credit card mess will take time and you shouldn't take drastic actions to do so yet. You need to find a way to communicate with your wife instead of "telling at her". 
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Bracken_Joy on March 01, 2015, 07:07:07 PM
It sounds like this whole situation is pretty far gone. At this point, I think professional assistance is well overdue. Yes, it is expensive, but divorce is even moreso. It sounds like both of you really need help here, individually and as a pair. That sort of unhappiness and lack of trust just erodes you.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Chuck on March 01, 2015, 10:56:13 PM
Get a very good lawyer. One who can effectively show that her behavior makes her unfit for custody of your child.

Then divorce.

Everyone calling for counselling has their collective heart in the right place, but you need to get the fuck out now.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: couponvan on March 01, 2015, 11:31:28 PM
I haven't posted here yet. No offense, but I would never want to hear investment/budget advice from my MIL. My question for you is do you have any spending that you wouldn't want exposed? If you could save as much as you have in the past two years I think your income level must be very high. When your income level is high it's sometimes easy not to think about your own expenses.

As a married couple, you both have responsibilities and are equally responsible for most debts in the eyes of the law. You may make a bunch more than your wife, and feel like she could make more, but divorce is a last resort. I personally think you made a for richer or poorer/better or worse vow. She's poorer and worse right now, but that doesn't break any vows.

 Also your tagline has Illini, which means you might live in Illinois. Given all that higher income which has allowed you to save a good amount of money, you are likely looking at a pretty hefty child support bill. You are also likely looking at spousal support. I have heard many of my neighbors talking about the fact that it is "cheaper to keep her (or him)". Illinois is an "at fault" state, so check with legal counsel before you do anything or a) you may spend your net worth on legal battles and b) you may have to support her in the lifestyle the court thinks your income can afford, not the mustachian way you have been living.

My DH is the spender in the family, but he is also the higher earner.  Where we had trouble was when he questioned my $200 spending and called it the same as his $1,000 spending.  Not.....  Now we have one pot and Mint helps us accumulate annual personal spend - by person.  Makes the conversation more equal - we are a team and we each get to spend the same amount regardless of income.  (I do WAY MORE with the kids/house, and only work PT, but that doesn't mean his money is his money and my money is my money.  It is our money.)

Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Bracken_Joy on March 02, 2015, 06:15:05 AM
Get a very good lawyer. One who can effectively show that her behavior makes her unfit for custody of your child.

Then divorce.

Everyone calling for counselling has their collective heart in the right place, but you need to get the fuck out now.

Wow, aren't you a judgmental little ray of sunshine. How's this: even if he proceeds with a divorce, seeking counseling shows a desire for remediation and is looked on favorably, so it's a strategic move as well. I think it serves the whole community a bit better if you make your point with an argument stronger than vulgarity. Thanks!
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: garion on March 02, 2015, 06:47:39 AM
Get a very good lawyer. One who can effectively show that her behavior makes her unfit for custody of your child.

Then divorce.

Everyone calling for counselling has their collective heart in the right place, but you need to get the fuck out now.

I missed the part where she was shown as an unfit mother... The child is THREE years old and it seems like the mother has been the primary caregiver up to this point. If the mother and child have a good relationship, it would be harmful and traumatic to split the two of them. If the mother is negligent or abusive, this is obviously a different story, but I can't see evidence of that from the post.

I do think a divorce is necessary though, just from the tone of all of these posts. I don't feel any love or concern, just annoyance that the wife is getting in the way of OP's goals. Although, as others have mentioned, this isn't going to improve OP's financial situation. The state already views your money as belonging to the both of you, even if you don't.

Wife also could use some counseling and possibly a psychiatric evaluation if she hasn't had one yet.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: bugbaby on March 02, 2015, 07:06:21 AM
Hello, the MIL only offered advice as a condition for *paying off $15k of CC debt* ... It's actually a useful way of helping the irresponsible by addressing the core problem...

The wife has persistently shown no commitment or respect for the marriage unit.  I've seen a lot of this pattern (including the oops pregnancy to get the ring- not saying that's the case here necessarily) ... If she is not seeing a problem and suggesting counseling herself, dragging her there is futile..
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: HairyUpperLip on March 02, 2015, 07:20:08 AM
Good luck man. What a shitty situation.

Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: DecD on March 02, 2015, 08:29:54 AM
Is she in treatment for her anxiety issues?  Are you working on your marriage?

The #1 suggestion you got back in December was that she is in need of individual counseling (it sounds like she's in a bad place) and you're both in need of couples counseling (clearly communication has broken down.)

If you haven't pursued both of these routes, why would you expect to have made any progress over the past 2.5 months?  You need to treat the root of the problems, not the symptoms.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Louisville on March 02, 2015, 08:53:11 AM
This is probably not a person you're ever going to be able to trust. Do your due diligence with marraige counseling, etc., but you can't help someone who won't be helped. Be prepared that end game may be divorce. It's not the worst possible outcome. Sorry - shitty situation for everybody, but you can get through it.

Get a very good lawyer. One who can effectively show that her behavior makes her unfit for custody of your child.

Then divorce.

Everyone calling for counselling has their collective heart in the right place, but you need to get the fuck out now.

Wow, aren't you a judgmental little ray of sunshine. How's this: even if he proceeds with a divorce, seeking counseling shows a desire for remediation and is looked on favorably, so it's a strategic move as well. I think it serves the whole community a bit better if you make your point with an argument stronger than vulgarity. Thanks!
Braken, you may be on the wrong forum....
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: jackiechiles2 on March 02, 2015, 09:14:10 AM
I'm sorry guys. I'm the one that suggested the allowance, and I'll say it again, we *all* have an allowance in our family.  I normally call it "My personal fund", but I figured everyone thought of it as an "allowance" so that's what I called it.

I also said in my post that both parties have to give up the credit card, not just her.  It's only fair.

Yeah, we have similar budget item, but I call it "wife's spending money."  She normally buys stuff for the kids, so it's more like clothes for kids fund, but she can use it however she wants.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Retire-Canada on March 02, 2015, 09:24:32 AM
That's a tough one.  I was honestly thinking "eject" until I read the part about having a 3 yr old son.

I was thinking the same.

Frankly I would give her an ultimatum in terms of debt/spending/savings. If she can't meet it divorce her.

I had a friend in the exact same scenario who waited too long so that when he had to divorce her he ended up with $200K of her debt since she made so little.

-- Vik
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: sheepstache on March 02, 2015, 09:48:28 AM
Get a very good lawyer. One who can effectively show that her behavior makes her unfit for custody of your child.

Then divorce.

Everyone calling for counselling has their collective heart in the right place, but you need to get the fuck out now.

Wow, aren't you a judgmental little ray of sunshine. How's this: even if he proceeds with a divorce, seeking counseling shows a desire for remediation and is looked on favorably, so it's a strategic move as well. I think it serves the whole community a bit better if you make your point with an argument stronger than vulgarity. Thanks!

I read that as Chuck saying "you [the OP] need to get the fuck out now," not "you [everyone calling for counselling] need to get the fuck out now." So I don't think he was telling anyone on the thread to get the fuck out which I agree would be a little too strongly worded.

edit for quoting
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: mm1970 on March 02, 2015, 09:56:38 AM
Quote
Also your tagline has Illini, which means you might live in Illinois. Given all that higher income which has allowed you to save a good amount of money, you are likely looking at a pretty hefty child support bill. You are also likely looking at spousal support. I have heard many of my neighbors talking about the fact that it is "cheaper to keep her (or him)". Illinois is an "at fault" state, so check with legal counsel before you do anything or a) you may spend your net worth on legal battles and b) you may have to support her in the lifestyle the court thinks your income can afford, not the mustachian way you have been living.
Some very good points here.

Do you want to be married to this person?  Do you love them?  Can you go to counseling?  Do you think you could get custody?

Divorce might be the answer.  But man, I've seen so much of it around.  Your wife doesn't have a job.  Divorce is expensive.  You will likely not get full custody, so it means you will need to pay child support.  You may also have to pay spousal support.  That is close to 2 households that you are supporting.  At that point, mustachianism will be a necessity.

Surely, long term, you may be happier.  You may find someone else, have more children.  But then you are dragging more people into the drama of how to support that other family.

Then the question becomes, how much money do you make?  Maybe I missed it, but if you are capable of spending a certain amount of money, and just not spending - it's just not going to look good for you. I mean I know your money is separate, and your wife keeps getting into debt.  But $15k of debt if you are making $30k is one thing, it's an entirely different thing (to the courts) if you are making $120k.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: MayDay on March 02, 2015, 10:21:02 AM
Mayday the internet therapist recommends:

- pay off her debt.
- get thee to a counselor, either together or just you, THIS WEEK NO MORE EXCUSES.
- try to convince her to freeze credit cards and/or cancel and make sure to include deleting from websites.  In exchange offer a generous cash personal "allowance" for each of you. Save yours for potential divorce, let her spend however she wants as long as it isn't on credit.
-hash out whether you want to stay or go, while being the best possible parent and spouse you can be in the meantime. 
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Allie on March 02, 2015, 10:31:11 AM
I had to go back and reread the responses to his first inquiry before commenting again.  None of the very good advice was addressed in the update. 

Have you sat down and discussed her goals?  Have you considered an allowance?  Have you ought any form of counseling?  Take a look at Dave Ramsey?

I would be interested in more clarification.  Did she go from a 10k credit card bill to a 15k credit card bill in 2 months.  If so, that's insane.  If you are just uncovering more spending she's done over the course of 3 years, I'll stick by my original comment, that it isn't too bad for a non mustachian spouse of a high earner.  It's something to work on.  Certainly not as it could be.

It still seems strange to me to have "separate finances" when one person is a non earning stay at home spouse primarily.  Very controlling.  For a married couple, separate finances only works when both parties are on board.  As she has demonstrated through her actions, she has as much access to your earnings as you do even if you try to hide them away in another account.  We are in the middle of a large bathroom remodel and I went out and secured multiple lines of credit based on my husband's income without a single hiccup.  He didn't need to sign off, agree, anything.  Because it's all our money, regardless of who makes it.  Just canceling the cards or cutting them up won't stop her from getting more whenever she wants.

Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Allie on March 02, 2015, 10:35:34 AM
Am I the only one who is appalled by the hypocrisy of OP being on board with mom bailing him out to the tune of 15k on one hand but deriding wife and mother of OPs child for wanting to bail out her family when they make poor spending decisions?

Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: nobody123 on March 02, 2015, 10:59:07 AM
Am I the only one who is appalled by the hypocrisy of OP being on board with mom bailing him out to the tune of 15k on one hand but deriding wife and mother of OPs child for wanting to bail out her family when they make poor spending decisions?

I'm more appalled that a grown married man hasn't figured out that his wife will react negatively to any offer of assistance from his mother if it comes with strings attached, no matter how good intentioned the offer may be.


Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: neo von retorch on March 02, 2015, 10:59:30 AM
I just wanted to share the latest update and again get everyone's input and advice. Since my last post my wife's final credit card debt has now reached $15,000. For the first two months of trying to pay this down I was having her give me half of her $10.50 hr paycheck which was not even covering the minimum payments. I was then chipping in what i could....around $300-$400 per month. I then reduced my 401k contribution from 20% to 7% which is the minimum I can do and still receive the max match.  Also after looking into further I am in the process of doing a cash out refinance where I should be receiving around $13,000 shortly.

I feel like I am taking a huge step backwards in my life both financially and mentally.  And this was all before she told me that she abruptly quit her part time job without first consulting me.  While she was only making $10.50 an hr while working 15-20 hrs per week that was money that I was counting on to help pay off her debt. When I asked her how she could do that at such a time in our lives she replied by saying they weren't paying her enough for the amount of work they were expecting from her.  She has been looking for another job for the past month however I dont really see her worrying too much about it.  She spends roughly 3-4 hrs a week looking online.

A couple of weeks ago my mom offered to pay off my wife's credit card bill with the only requirement that she sit down with her and teach her about budgeting and finances. My moms motivation behind this was to ensure that after helping my wife would not be back in the same place in a couple of years. I was reluctant at first but when I brought the idea up to my wife she responded by saying that she would rather get hit by a train than to listen to someone else about how to spend her money. She also said that if her parents were to ever give us money (which they will never be able to) that they would never tell us how to spend it.

I feel like I'm in a no win position. How do I help someone who doesn't want to help themselves? This whole ordeal has affected me in numerous ways. Lack of sleep,constantly worrying, lack of appetite etc. we really didn't have the best of marriage before this ( I proposed after I found out she was pregnant).  We aren't really even talking much at home and I only try to put on a happy face around my three year old.

Does anyone have advise for me or do I alrady know the answer to this question?

She is not feeling any consequences for her behavior / actions. She feels entitled to do as she pleases. She wants to control how money is being spent without bothering to think about how that affects anyone. (It doesn't affect her negatively. She spends - she gets the things she wants - she doesn't worry about the bills.) She is not concerned about how you are affected, so you need to protect yourself.

The short answer is "you can't" to the question of helping someone who doesn't want it. You will continue to sacrifice money and health and you cannot be as much of a parent as you want to be in your current situation, so "putting on a happy face" may not be the best for your child. (I hesitate, of course, before offering parenting advice, but you really need to take a big step back and compare your current situation and where you will all be five years from now on your current course and alternate courses.)

You cannot and should not have to control your wife and her spending. But her behavior is her own. You cannot control it. It is up to her to change. When the signs are obvious it will not, you have to make decisions for yourself and your child above and beyond anything else.

Mental illness is a real problem, but it's not a catch-all excuse for bad behavior. She has to contribute energy and effort to making things better, or it's clear she's choosing not to.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: capitalguy on March 02, 2015, 12:40:08 PM
Am I the only one who is appalled by the hypocrisy of OP being on board with mom bailing him out to the tune of 15k on one hand but deriding wife and mother of OPs child for wanting to bail out her family when they make poor spending decisions?

I'm more appalled that a grown married man hasn't figured out that his wife will react negatively to any offer of assistance from his mother if it comes with strings attached, no matter how good intentioned the offer may be.

And I'm appalled by the opinions of so many people in this thread regarding mothers' in law. Maybe I'm lucky to have a great relationship with mine? Someone offering to pay $15k of debt that you racked up and then teach you how to make sure you never get into that situation again sounds like a win to me.

If instead of his mother in law it was an accountant friend of his who offered to pay off the debt and teach her how to be responsible would you people be against that?
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Bracken_Joy on March 02, 2015, 12:43:05 PM
Get a very good lawyer. One who can effectively show that her behavior makes her unfit for custody of your child.

Then divorce.

Everyone calling for counselling has their collective heart in the right place, but you need to get the fuck out now.

Wow, aren't you a judgmental little ray of sunshine. How's this: even if he proceeds with a divorce, seeking counseling shows a desire for remediation and is looked on favorably, so it's a strategic move as well. I think it serves the whole community a bit better if you make your point with an argument stronger than vulgarity. Thanks!

I read that as Chuck saying "you [the OP] need to get the fuck out now," not "you [everyone calling for counselling] need to get the fuck out now." So I don't think he was telling anyone on the thread to get the fuck out which I agree would be a little too strongly worded.

edit for quoting

Ahhhh I read it is him telling everyone advising counseling to GTFO. If it's the other case, that's fine then. I just thought it was totally unhelpful if the feedback was "you're all wrong, so fuck off". Thanks for the clarification.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: CommonCents on March 02, 2015, 01:08:02 PM
Am I the only one who is appalled by the hypocrisy of OP being on board with mom bailing him out to the tune of 15k on one hand but deriding wife and mother of OPs child for wanting to bail out her family when they make poor spending decisions?

I'm more appalled that a grown married man hasn't figured out that his wife will react negatively to any offer of assistance from his mother if it comes with strings attached, no matter how good intentioned the offer may be.

And I'm appalled by the opinions of so many people in this thread regarding mothers' in law. Maybe I'm lucky to have a great relationship with mine? Someone offering to pay $15k of debt that you racked up and then teach you how to make sure you never get into that situation again sounds like a win to me.

If instead of his mother in law it was an accountant friend of his who offered to pay off the debt and teach her how to be responsible would you people be against that?

Yeah I'm not really sure the tarring and feathering is appropriate.

Allie, at first I thought you had something and then I realized the key (implied) difference:
1) the mom is spending money she has, not going into debt and
2) the mom is spending her own money or has her spouse's buy-in for this plan, if married

The problem with the OP's wife giving money to her relatives was that she was going into debt to do so and not discussing / gaining OP's acquiescence beforehand.  (Of course, as noted above, I'm assuming a few things about the mom, but they seem reasonable.)
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Chuck on March 02, 2015, 02:09:32 PM
Get a very good lawyer. One who can effectively show that her behavior makes her unfit for custody of your child.

Then divorce.

Everyone calling for counselling has their collective heart in the right place, but you need to get the fuck out now.

Wow, aren't you a judgmental little ray of sunshine. How's this: even if he proceeds with a divorce, seeking counseling shows a desire for remediation and is looked on favorably, so it's a strategic move as well. I think it serves the whole community a bit better if you make your point with an argument stronger than vulgarity. Thanks!

I read that as Chuck saying "you [the OP] need to get the fuck out now," not "you [everyone calling for counselling] need to get the fuck out now." So I don't think he was telling anyone on the thread to get the fuck out which I agree would be a little too strongly worded.

edit for quoting

Ahhhh I read it is him telling everyone advising counseling to GTFO. If it's the other case, that's fine then. I just thought it was totally unhelpful if the feedback was "you're all wrong, so fuck off". Thanks for the clarification.
Nonononono I meant what sheep said.

The entire post was addressed to the OP, and I wasn't leveling any judgment on others commenting (other than to say I think their motives are correct, but it's probably too late to even try).
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: dunhamjr on March 02, 2015, 02:22:37 PM
very tough situation.
the relationship as is, is bringing you both down, and will affect the kid as well soon if not already.

you both will need counseling here.  marriage, and likely more for her.

if nothing helps and all fails, hopefully you are able to get full custody.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Allie on March 02, 2015, 02:46:30 PM
Am I the only one who is appalled by the hypocrisy of OP being on board with mom bailing him out to the tune of 15k on one hand but deriding wife and mother of OPs child for wanting to bail out her family when they make poor spending decisions?

I'm more appalled that a grown married man hasn't figured out that his wife will react negatively to any offer of assistance from his mother if it comes with strings attached, no matter how good intentioned the offer may be.

And I'm appalled by the opinions of so many people in this thread regarding mothers' in law. Maybe I'm lucky to have a great relationship with mine? Someone offering to pay $15k of debt that you racked up and then teach you how to make sure you never get into that situation again sounds like a win to me.

If instead of his mother in law it was an accountant friend of his who offered to pay off the debt and teach her how to be responsible would you people be against that?

Yeah I'm not really sure the tarring and feathering is appropriate.

Allie, at first I thought you had something and then I realized the key (implied) difference:
1) the mom is spending money she has, not going into debt and
2) the mom is spending her own money or has her spouse's buy-in for this plan, if married

The problem with the OP's wife giving money to her relatives was that she was going into debt to do so and not discussing / gaining OP's acquiescence beforehand.  (Of course, as noted above, I'm assuming a few things about the mom, but they seem reasonable.)

I guess my issue with this whole thread is the idea of "his" and "her" money.  That the OP decided to put up artificial barriers to create "his" and "her" money doesn't actually make it so.  She is spending her money to help her family.  He can dump 20% into retirement all day long.  That doesn't mean it is actually all his to make those decisions with.  I'm not even writing from a legal point of view.  She is a full time stay at home mom with minimal income, he can't declare all the money his and think it's going to work out.  You don't have to be a raging feminist to see this creates an imbalance of power and control that could send any relationship into turmoil.

In reality, there is a single pot of money.  I have a hard time with the "she has been going into debt to do so" because, while funding a retirement account is far more reasonable a way to spend your income, he is siphoning 20% (at least) to his savings account and she is siphoning quite a bit off to her family and consumer crap.  They are both being dysfunctional and only considering their own goals and wants. 

He needs to get her into a Financial Peace class or something like that instead of the school of MIL. 

If he wouldn't have been willing to accept a 15,000 gift from his mother to fund his retirement while he paid for her stuff out of his salary over the past three years, he shouldn't be willing to use it to pay off the cards.

 
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Avidconsumer on March 02, 2015, 02:58:42 PM
Am I the only one who is appalled by the hypocrisy of OP being on board with mom bailing him out to the tune of 15k on one hand but deriding wife and mother of OPs child for wanting to bail out her family when they make poor spending decisions?

I'm more appalled that a grown married man hasn't figured out that his wife will react negatively to any offer of assistance from his mother if it comes with strings attached, no matter how good intentioned the offer may be.

And I'm appalled by the opinions of so many people in this thread regarding mothers' in law. Maybe I'm lucky to have a great relationship with mine? Someone offering to pay $15k of debt that you racked up and then teach you how to make sure you never get into that situation again sounds like a win to me.

If instead of his mother in law it was an accountant friend of his who offered to pay off the debt and teach her how to be responsible would you people be against that?

Sounds like someone likes handouts. To be honest, I think the OP knew that his wife would flip when she found out her mother in law wanted to pay her debt based on conditions and her response should give the OP clarification on where she stands. If all she cared about was money, she would have accepted the money off her mother in law.
I'm sorry to say this but the OP is seems cheap and loves handouts from parents. I don't see where the mother in law wins in this scenario. How is that a win win scenario?

I can't see a way out here. Divorce will be messy, but might be the right thing to do. I would start by stop being so cheap and allowing your wife to spend on family. Decide if you can be happy being like most of the world living fairly unmustachian. Stop believing that your money isn't hers. You already screwed that up by marrying her. Either way its both of yours from now on. She gets to spend. Work on her mental health and job prospects and good luck.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: neo von retorch on March 02, 2015, 03:03:51 PM
What does your wife want? We do lots of bad short term things when we don't know what we really value. There may be something she values long-term. Maybe not. But if there is but she's not thinking about it or working towards it, of course she'll turn to short-term distraction. This is natural. Start behaving like you want her to realize and reach what she wants and not just "convince" her to join you on your goals.

If you do all that, with a genuine, sustained, reasonable, respectful effort - but she turns away and shuts you out and continues doing her own thing separate from you, then you would know that it is not a team or a partnership any more.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: nobody123 on March 02, 2015, 03:50:55 PM
Am I the only one who is appalled by the hypocrisy of OP being on board with mom bailing him out to the tune of 15k on one hand but deriding wife and mother of OPs child for wanting to bail out her family when they make poor spending decisions?

I'm more appalled that a grown married man hasn't figured out that his wife will react negatively to any offer of assistance from his mother if it comes with strings attached, no matter how good intentioned the offer may be.

And I'm appalled by the opinions of so many people in this thread regarding mothers' in law. Maybe I'm lucky to have a great relationship with mine? Someone offering to pay $15k of debt that you racked up and then teach you how to make sure you never get into that situation again sounds like a win to me.

If instead of his mother in law it was an accountant friend of his who offered to pay off the debt and teach her how to be responsible would you people be against that?

In my experience, the vast majority of my women friends I know publicly complain about their MIL's.  My wife was pretty cool with my mom until the kids arrived and the subtle parenting advice routinely makes it into the conversation.  I'm glad you have had a different experience.

I'm not against the MIL offering to clean up the mess.  HOWEVER, I can see why the wife would be offended, and I'm shocked that he didn't realize it was going to happen.  Or, more likely, he doesn't care.

I am guessing his wife's reaction included some combination of the following: "So you told your mom my family is a bunch of deadbeats!", "Why are you discussing our private finances with your mother behind my back?!", and "Oh, she'll only help us if she can control our lives!  What a b*!"

If I was OP, I would have mom keep the money for after the divorce to help get me back on my feet when I'm stuck with half of the debt the wife has run up.  If mom fixes the debt and they still end up divorced, that's going to cause issues.  Not to mention, taking $15K from your mom when you have the assets to cover the debt is a bit sad, especially when you know there's a pretty high chance that his wife's behavior won't change.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Illini1 on March 02, 2015, 06:15:59 PM
Thank you everyone for the advice.  I will definitely be looking into getting some form of counseling very soon. My wife has done it in the past and she claims that it was of no help.  I understand that the majority is having trouble with our split finances and that is something that we came up with together because of our different beliefs and it caused a lot less drama.  It worked out fairly well while she was working full time but obviously not so much after.  We were able to accumulate our 150k net worth mostly from me finding MMM about two years ago and by finding a great deal on a foreclosure and putting in a ton of sweat equity in a great neighborhood. No I do not have a huge salary ($57,000).

I guess the biggest issue of all that I'm struggling with is that after she became pregnant I thought I was doing the best thing for my son by getting married.  While I obviously care for my wife as she is the mother of my only child, I don't believe I have ever loved her ( neither one of us have ever told the other that we love them)We have always been more roommates/partners in raising our son than the typical husband and wife. I was able to sort of just keep my head down and soldier on up until the past few months.  With everything going on the past few months communication has been non existent and we don't even sleep in the same bed anymore.

While I think I could probably white knuckle it for another few years or even until my son leaves for college I dont think that would be best for anyone.  I understand that divorce is costly and messy but I'm beginning to believe that im only putting off the inevitable.

Does anyone have any other suggestions or words of encouragement?

Thanks again.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Bracken_Joy on March 02, 2015, 06:54:24 PM
Thank you everyone for the advice.  I will definitely be looking into getting some form of counseling very soon. My wife has done it in the past and she claims that it was of no help.  I understand that the majority is having trouble with our split finances and that is something that we came up with together because of our different beliefs and it caused a lot less drama.  It worked out fairly well while she was working full time but obviously not so much after.  We were able to accumulate our 150k net worth mostly from me finding MMM about two years ago and by finding a great deal on a foreclosure and putting in a ton of sweat equity in a great neighborhood. No I do not have a huge salary ($57,000).

I guess the biggest issue of all that I'm struggling with is that after she became pregnant I thought I was doing the best thing for my son by getting married.  While I obviously care for my wife as she is the mother of my only child, I don't believe I have ever loved her ( neither one of us have ever told the other that we love them)We have always been more roommates/partners in raising our son than the typical husband and wife. I was able to sort of just keep my head down and soldier on up until the past few months.  With everything going on the past few months communication has been non existent and we don't even sleep in the same bed anymore.

While I think I could probably white knuckle it for another few years or even until my son leaves for college I dont think that would be best for anyone.  I understand that divorce is costly and messy but I'm beginning to believe that im only putting off the inevitable.

Does anyone have any other suggestions or words of encouragement?

Thanks again.

Get a lawyer, now not later. If you own your house, don't be the one to leave- that generally sets the precedence for who keeps it. (Although that conflicts in me morally to advise that because statistically women and children are at much greater risk of poverty and homelessness from a divorce than men are, but as far as legal precedence-- in my state-- that plays a role).

Good luck.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Annamal on March 02, 2015, 07:06:28 PM
Thank you everyone for the advice.  I will definitely be looking into getting some form of counseling very soon. My wife has done it in the past and she claims that it was of no help.  I understand that the majority is having trouble with our split finances and that is something that we came up with together because of our different beliefs and it caused a lot less drama.  It worked out fairly well while she was working full time but obviously not so much after.  We were able to accumulate our 150k net worth mostly from me finding MMM about two years ago and by finding a great deal on a foreclosure and putting in a ton of sweat equity in a great neighborhood. No I do not have a huge salary ($57,000).

I guess the biggest issue of all that I'm struggling with is that after she became pregnant I thought I was doing the best thing for my son by getting married.  While I obviously care for my wife as she is the mother of my only child, I don't believe I have ever loved her ( neither one of us have ever told the other that we love them)We have always been more roommates/partners in raising our son than the typical husband and wife. I was able to sort of just keep my head down and soldier on up until the past few months.  With everything going on the past few months communication has been non existent and we don't even sleep in the same bed anymore.

While I think I could probably white knuckle it for another few years or even until my son leaves for college I dont think that would be best for anyone.  I understand that divorce is costly and messy but I'm beginning to believe that im only putting off the inevitable.

Does anyone have any other suggestions or words of encouragement?

Thanks again.

Work on communication, even if and when you divorce you two are going to have to communicate about your child for a long time and presumably you both love him.

You and your (probably soon to be ex) wife are going to have to talk sometime, it might as well be now before divorce is on the table, if nothing else you can establish what she wants.

The best thing for your son is going to be if everyone in his life has his best interests at heart and is willing to compromise in order to ensure that he gets the best shot at a stable childhood, that doesn't have to be with his parents together but it does have to be with his parents communicating in some way (ideally not only by lawyer).

Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: The Beacon on March 02, 2015, 07:41:30 PM
I think your mom's offer is totally sound and valid.  Some people do not like others to tell them how to run their lives even if they know they suck at it. People including your wife, who reject her offer are too just emotional.

If one looks at maintaining a relationship as running a team or a small business, then he/she can stay as objective as possible. The 1st step is to recruit strong team members that value team work.  You obviously have failed that. Now you have a non performing team member. What do you do?

The optimal approach is to motivate her, listen to her, help her, and win her respect.  The ultimate goal is to make your wife listen to you. For that to happen, she will have to look up to you first. Also you need to sink some fear in her. You fear to mess up your relationship with you boss. Are you afraid of your boss?  No, you are just afraid of losing that paycheck. So you listen to your boss.

After you have tried all the positive approaches,  that team member is still the same. Then she is incorrigible.  What would you do here? The answer is simple.

Have a plan and then execute the plan.  Try not to let emotions overrun you.



Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: WhoopWhoop on March 02, 2015, 07:57:50 PM
Does anyone have any other suggestions or words of encouragement?

If it counts for anything, I am not going to jump on the divorce train, or the marriage counseling train. As someone who has experienced a negative spiral of disastrous attitudes (like your wife), I think what she really needs is some good luck. Ideally, a well-paying job in your area.

Of course, your communication does need to improve, which is why marriage counseling has been suggested so much, but there are many ways to accomplish that. Step one is never to say the first thing that pops into your head ("Can my mother teach you finances?") and don't try to practice tough love ("You are on an allowance missy!"). Step two is to learn the proper way to communicate with someone who's in a downward spiral ("Here are some of my best memories of you. I'd like to get back to that.") - basically, follow the advice of experts who lead drug addiction interventions. Watch an episode or two of that tv show Intervention and you'll learn a lot about how to only say positive things to a person in chaos who needs help but doesn't want help.

As for never having loved your wife, perhaps you shouldn't worry about that right now. It's best not to get emotional about stuff like that sometimes. Romantic love is just a Western concept anyway. There are tons of people in Eastern cultures who get married through arranged marriages to people they never fell in love with and who are happy with the results. Just do what you've been doing so far and enjoy the company of your son with her.

My perspective on divorce is that it's too soon to be thinking about that. This is one hiccup. I think you said $12k in debt, right? There are people who don't realize they're in trouble until they are $100k in debt. THEN, they realize the error of their ways and become debt fighting machines. People DO change, it's just usually slowly over time. It might end up that divorce is the right option, but part of being a responsible adult is being patient. And, right now, in this instance, it is YOUR responsibility to be the responsible adult. I think you'd be surprised how quickly her getting a $40k/yr job she LIKES will make a difference.

Anyway, that's the perspective of someone who has been through a downward spiral before. A good job fixed it temporarily. Better communication fixed it later on in a more permanent manner. And I didn't have to pay a psychologist.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: caliq on March 02, 2015, 08:16:58 PM
I think your mom's offer is totally sound and valid.  Some people do not like others to tell them how to run their lives even if they know they suck at it. People including your wife, who reject her offer are too just emotional.

If one looks at maintaining a relationship as running a team or a small business, then he/she can stay as objective as possible. The 1st step is to recruit strong team members that value team work.  You obviously have failed that. Now you have a non performing team member. What do you do?

The optimal approach is to motivate her, listen to her, help her, and win her respect.  The ultimate goal is to make your wife listen to you. For that to happen, she will have to look up to you first. Also you need to sink some fear in her. You fear to mess up your relationship with you boss. Are you afraid of your boss?  No, you are just afraid of losing that paycheck. So you listen to your boss.

After you have tried all the positive approaches,  that team member is still the same. Then she is incorrigible.  What would you do here? The answer is simple.

Have a plan and then execute the plan.  Try not to let emotions overrun you.

Holy shit.  You sound like a real charmer.

There is a reason most marriage vows no longer include the words 'to obey.' 

A marriage is not a business transaction, especially when children are involved.

OP "firing" his wife as a spouse is not a solution to the problem, because he would have to immediately re-hire her as a co-parent and the dysfunctional relationship would be the same or worse. 
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: The Beacon on March 02, 2015, 08:50:05 PM
I think your mom's offer is totally sound and valid.  Some people do not like others to tell them how to run their lives even if they know they suck at it. People including your wife, who reject her offer are too just emotional.

If one looks at maintaining a relationship as running a team or a small business, then he/she can stay as objective as possible. The 1st step is to recruit strong team members that value team work.  You obviously have failed that. Now you have a non performing team member. What do you do?

The optimal approach is to motivate her, listen to her, help her, and win her respect.  The ultimate goal is to make your wife listen to you. For that to happen, she will have to look up to you first. Also you need to sink some fear in her. You fear to mess up your relationship with you boss. Are you afraid of your boss?  No, you are just afraid of losing that paycheck. So you listen to your boss.

After you have tried all the positive approaches,  that team member is still the same. Then she is incorrigible.  What would you do here? The answer is simple.

Have a plan and then execute the plan.  Try not to let emotions overrun you.

Holy shit.  You sound like a real charmer.

There is a reason most marriage vows no longer include the words 'to obey.' 

A marriage is not a business transaction, especially when children are involved.

OP "firing" his wife as a spouse is not a solution to the problem, because he would have to immediately re-hire her as a co-parent and the dysfunctional relationship would be the same or worse.
Who said a marriage is like a business transaction?   It is team work and 100% like running a team.  Both have to be on the same page most of time to make it run smoothly or it would be like a 2-headed snake.

Listening to someone is totally different than obeying.   You listen to your team leader, if you look up to him, you will follow him/her willingly. If you only obey him and follow him reluctantly, it will be short lived.

Did you see my optimal solution (listen to her, help her, and win her respect)?  Or did you just want to see what you wanted to see?  Firing her is the last resort.  Did I at least imply that?  If nothing works, what do you suppose the OP do?

What is wrong with the word "Boss" here?   Boss is the head of the house.  It does not have to be the man. My aunt is the boss in her household. She was a strong business woman. She has been running her family smoothly for over 50 years. My mom is the boss in my family even if my father is the only bread winner. Both women run a very tight ship at home for over 50 years..

My wife and I have been together for 13 years.  We can count the number of our fights with one hand.  They were minor...  I am indeed a real charmer in my family :)

BTW, I made my wife believe that the probability that she could find a better man than me is slim to none. That is the fear I have sunk deep into her bones, not by coercion or threat, but by loving her and removing all her worries.

 






Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: JustTrying on March 03, 2015, 12:18:58 AM
I am so sorry. In all likelihood, if this was my marriage, I'd be filing for divorce. If I thought there was still some chance for reconciliation, it would definitely take her making some effort to show me that she was at least trying to get better, whether psychologically or financially. Some options for her: Give you all her credit cards. Find a job. Go to individual therapy. Go to marital therapy. Agree to live on a specified budget. There are many ways that she could show you that she's trying to improve. If she's doing nothing to get better, things will just get worse. She'll keep avoiding things that make her anxious, the interest will keep accumulating on the CC, she'll stay unemployed, and you'll keep scrambling to make up for her disaster.

I'm really sorry that my post is all doom-and-gloom. I tend to be horrifyingly honest. You're in a terrible position. You can change that position by leaving the marriage, or by convincing her to change. You have control over one of these things and not the other.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: act01 on March 03, 2015, 03:22:56 AM
It drives me nuts when these conversations turn to talking about divorce, like "if this were my marriage..." This isn't any of our marriages. ***t happens. Illini1, I really give you major, major props for trying to help during this tough period. For what it's worth, here's my perspective:

- It could be that her spending is an addiction. All the financial planning and education in the world isn't going to resolve an emotional issue (whether it's addition or coping)
- The behavior you describe sounds like depression, not just anxiety. When you're depressed, the mind doesn't work at full capacity. If you give a list to someone who's depressed and ask them to memorize five terms, they'll be lucky if they remember three or four. Now imagine that's a grocery list, a reminder for a phone call, etc. Life things won't all get done, and it has nothing to do with desire or interest.
- It's frustrating as hell to feel like you can't do anything to help your partner, but the one thing you definitely can do is be empathetic and supportive. I went through depression a few years back, and while it was a strain on my marriage, the one thing I took away from it is that my husband is my rock. I know he's on team Spondulix for life. So, there may not be a lot to "do" just yet other than listen and support, which may include taking on more responsibilities for a while.
- It sounds like she may not have any focus (especially with the job gone). Does she do well with structure/repetition? Is there something you can get her enthusiastic about? (even if it's volunteering, selling crafts online, a sport... just something to get her doing an activity and change things up a bit)
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: GetItRight on March 03, 2015, 07:27:48 AM
Get a very good lawyer. One who can effectively show that her behavior makes her unfit for custody of your child.
Then divorce.

^ This. You need to be certain you have proven her mental issues make her unfit to have custody of a child. The more anxiety, self destructive behavior, sabotage of the family (financially or otherwise), refusal to work in any capacity to support the family goals or at least her frivolous spending, and general craziness, the easier it will be. Her behavior sounds abusive, is she verbally or physically abusive as well? Controlling? If you haven't already start keeping notes of what she does and any arguments or incidents. Try to get a professional diagnosis of her mental issues if you haven't already, that will help (both her for treatment and your escape). If you can do that, you may be able to walk away without the courts entirely ruining your life with alimony and child support among other evils, and of course you will still have your son.

If you don't have a fairly clear cut case you are certain you can win it may be best to suck it up for another 15 years then divorce. FIRE is unlikely either way unless she doesn't fight to get custody and your assets, in which case half (or more) of your earnings are hers and half (or more) of her debt is yours. Pretty much you're screwed, you just need to figure out which way hurts less. I suggest watching the film Divorce Corp to get an idea of what you're up against.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: WildHare on March 03, 2015, 07:32:12 AM
Start by acting like you love your wife.  You may not feel it, but act like you do.  Court her. If your mom wants to help, have her babysit. Take your wife out on a date. Bring some flowers home tonight. Stop talking about the money. Start finding ways to laugh and have fun together.  Go to counseling. Learn to say I Love You.  You have a small child. 
It is not hopeless.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: justajane on March 03, 2015, 07:39:18 AM
Get a very good lawyer. One who can effectively show that her behavior makes her unfit for custody of your child.
Then divorce.

^ This. You need to be certain you have proven her mental issues make her unfit to have custody of a child. The more anxiety, self destructive behavior, sabotage of the family (financially or otherwise), refusal to work in any capacity to support the family goals or at least her frivolous spending, and general craziness, the easier it will be. Her behavior sounds abusive, is she verbally or physically abusive as well? Controlling? If you haven't already start keeping notes of what she does and any arguments or incidents. Try to get a professional diagnosis of her mental issues if you haven't already, that will help (both her for treatment and your escape). If you can do that, you may be able to walk away without the courts entirely ruining your life with alimony and child support among other evils, and of course you will still have your son.

If you don't have a fairly clear cut case you are certain you can win it may be best to suck it up for another 15 years then divorce. FIRE is unlikely either way unless she doesn't fight to get custody and your assets, in which case half (or more) of your earnings are hers and half (or more) of her debt is yours. Pretty much you're screwed, you just need to figure out which way hurts less. I suggest watching the film Divorce Corp to get an idea of what you're up against.

Wow. This guns blazing approach seems a little extreme based on what the OP has described. Can you point to one instance of actual abuse in the above story?

I worry that the OP is getting very bad advice in this thread.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: ShoulderThingThatGoesUp on March 03, 2015, 08:17:53 AM
You created a life together as a surprise and got married intending to provide a better life for your son. Good for you! But you only took it halfway - you didn't work to make yourselves into a couple with a stable home for your son to grow up in. You owe it to your son to try to do that. The $15k in debt is not good but not awful. You and your wife need to realize that you have to work as a team to make this work. So sit down, figure out where she's coming from, and honestly and clearly state that you want to be a family and to be on the same side.

I gotta ask - Do you guys talk about anything besides money and your son? Do you have sex? Do you think "how can I make my partner feel valued today"? How can you possibly expect to cooperate on money if you never smile at each other?

You already made the decision to do what's best for your son. Follow through by realizing that means doing what's best for his mother, too.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: MooseOutFront on March 03, 2015, 08:29:33 AM
I think WhoopWhoop's perspective was insightful and very good.

I would be thinking that divorce was likely my end game in this case, but would do everything in my power to optimize the situation legally while trying to heal it.  By that I mean get legal advice and follow it for strategy.  Things like waiting until she finds a decent job and possibly changing your job to something lower paying before filing might keep you from supporting her as an unemployed person for the next 15 years.  No idea how spousal support works but I sure would before I started very far down the divorce path.

Then also do your best to be patient with mending your relationship even though her spending may continue to be an issue for now.  Like others have mentioned you'll need to raise this child together no matter what.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Kris on March 03, 2015, 09:21:45 AM
Therapy, at least for the wife.  Her lying to you about the credit card stuff is unacceptable.

It might be anxiety-related, or depression-related, or something like that.  But it's going to destroy your relationship one way or another if it isn't dealt with.  You need to be able to trust your wife.  She has simply got to agree to address it. 
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Lia-Aimee on March 03, 2015, 09:36:53 AM
I was sympathetic to your wife UNTIL you mentioned that she turned down your MIL's offer. Of course, 99% of people would hate to have a financial lecture from an in-law. It would probably be a very upsetting and possibly triggering afternoon for her. But hell - for 15k (when family income prob isn't over 70k and especially when you're a parent!) you suck it up and do it. If I found out I had a partner who felt differently, the marriage would be over that same day. Just my $0.02.

Although if it does come down to a custody dispute, please ensure the needs of your child are put above everything, including money.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Pigeon on March 03, 2015, 10:51:41 AM
If you want your marriage to work, I think you need to concentrate first and foremost on your wife's mental health issues, and stop focusing on FIRE.  I know that's heresy, but I would guess it is anxiety that is causing her poor financial choices.  I would try to get her into counseling, both individual and couples.  She needs a therapist she is comfortable with and maybe she needs medication.

Honestly, you are sounding very, very controlling to me.  You don't sound like someone who has concerns about the woman who is his life partner.  I understand that you have legitimate financial concerns with her behavior.  But one adult does not cut up another adult's credit cards.  And the MIL idea?  OMG.  If my husband ever suggested to me that his mother should lecture me about how I was Doing It All Wrong, I'd be handing him his butt on a platter.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: MountainFlower on March 03, 2015, 11:08:13 AM
Your situation makes me very sad.  I'm so sorry that you find yourself in this situation.  I'm not making any judgment about divorce or not divorce.  Just a caution: 

If she doesn't have a job before before initiating divorce, you could be setting yourself up for a lifetime of spousal maintenance.  That happened to a friend of mine whose wife was laid off just before she filed for divorce.  In court, She claimed that she couldn't work due to fibromyalgia and got  $3K/month...forever.   

Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: swick on March 03, 2015, 11:19:36 AM
OP - Read this link, and the original essay mentioned in the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/no-37-big-wedding-or-small.html?_r=2 (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/fashion/no-37-big-wedding-or-small.html?_r=2)

You might very well be headed to divorce, you have some major, major issues. But I agree with another poster who mentioned you did the right thing in marrying the mother of your child, but only went 1/2 way. Attempting to have the conversations suggested in this study may at least open the lines of communication- and hey, they are free.

Infatuation at first sight happens all the time. It is what we commonly think of as "love" The chemical reaction that happens in our brains.

Love, on the other hand, is something that is cultivated it takes hard work and doesn't usually just happen by accident. When people say they "fall out of love" most often it is because that chemical reaction wares off and they haven't invested the time and energy to really know each other.

There is a reason that many divorces happen when a couple becomes parents - as it is a stressful time and couples don't have the bond, communication and mutual respect to cope. Many divorces also happen when kids grow up and leave the home and the parents realize that they spent so much time and energy on the shared goal of raising their children they lost who they are in the process and didn't invest in their own relationship.

I overheard a conversation about love that stuck with me. One older guy (I think he might have been a preacher) turned to this young man who was asking for relationship advice and said " Love is not two people looking at each other, it is two people choosing to look in the same direction, together"

Obviously, protect yourself and do what is best for your son - just some things to consider.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: capitalguy on March 03, 2015, 12:14:50 PM
And the MIL idea?  OMG.  If my husband ever suggested to me that his mother should lecture me about how I was Doing It All Wrong, I'd be handing him his butt on a platter.

Even if you were making really stupid decisions that were destroying your, your husbands and your child's future? How much pride do you have??
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Lia-Aimee on March 03, 2015, 12:20:00 PM
I also fail to see how this situation is anti-feminist / an unequal display of power, etc. Perhaps I'm reading it wrong and someone can clarify.

If OP and his wife had separate finances and he expected her to chip in 50%, that would be cruel and problematic. But it looks like he's paying for everything except her cell phone. She should be easily able to afford a cell phone, as well as other fun things, on a job that I imagine nets no less than $400 a month. I imagine that many of us have a smaller entertainment budget than this.  It also appears that OP would be encouraging of her getting a job with more hours or higher pay - if he were insisting she work less, while still refusing to share money, it would be another story.

While access to a joint bank account would be normal and most efficient in this scenario, can anu of us say we'd want to share a bank account with someone who racks up credit card bills?
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: mamagoose on March 03, 2015, 12:26:37 PM
I think you could benefit from marriage counseling, it could open your eyes to some of your wife's inner problems with anxiety and how she's using spending as a coping mechanism, plus it opens the line of communication with her hiding stuff from you and not consulting with you before she quits her job. She might be ashamed of her irresponsible behavior which is why she didn't check with you first.

Above all, please leave your mom out of your marriage issues. There's no faster way to piss off your wife than to tell her that her MIL knows her personal problems & wants to "help".
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: neo von retorch on March 03, 2015, 12:41:16 PM
We generally perceive and advice based on our own situations and experiences, and I will no doubt do the same...

I believe that most of us are looking at this as a "marriage" relationship, and trying to solve that. But I think it's relatively clear that we're talking about two individuals here. This is not a partnership. It would likely be better if it was, and if they can head in that direction, that would be great.

For now, she is an individual with a child and some problems to deal with. She can't find satisfaction. Spending money gives her a temporary relief, but it doesn't make the overall discomfort go away. What is her purpose? What does she want from life? Why is she with this man who wants different things from her? She probably had some dreams and goals at some point. Spending money on temporary relief wasn't it.

I don't know if the OP and his wife can find common ground beyond their child and make a mutually beneficial relationship evolve out of that.

OP - what do you like about her? What are her redeeming qualities (however latent they may now be)?

When the OP tries to "persuade his wife to join his quest for FIRE" she sees someone coming at her and saying "I want something from you. I want to take away your temporary relief. I want that because it will benefit me."
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Pigeon on March 03, 2015, 02:18:50 PM
And the MIL idea?  OMG.  If my husband ever suggested to me that his mother should lecture me about how I was Doing It All Wrong, I'd be handing him his butt on a platter.

Even if you were making really stupid decisions that were destroying your, your husbands and your child's future? How much pride do you have??

It's not a matter of pride.  I'm married to my husband.  Our finances are our finances.  Our marital issues or lack thereof are between the two of us.  If we jointly decide to take a class on financial planning that would be one thing.  Having his mother get up our business?  Yup, his ass on a platter.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: act01 on March 03, 2015, 03:44:58 PM
And the MIL idea?  OMG.  If my husband ever suggested to me that his mother should lecture me about how I was Doing It All Wrong, I'd be handing him his butt on a platter.

Even if you were making really stupid decisions that were destroying your, your husbands and your child's future? How much pride do you have??
There's a HUGE difference between a spouse approaching a problem as, "We need to talk about this. What can we do to help this?" vs, "You have a problem, and my mother has a solution."

I highly doubt the struggling spouse is looking at it as, "I'm destroying my life, making my husband miserable, and ruining my child's future. That sounds awesome, exactly what I want, and I'm going to keep doing it!" Sometimes life just sucks into a hole. A few years ago, my mom had a heart attack and months later it threw me into depression. Could my behavior and choices during that period been viewed as "destroying my life"? If the goal is to judge me, then yes, it's true. Was that really what was going on? Not at all.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Chuck on March 03, 2015, 04:07:44 PM
And the MIL idea?  OMG.  If my husband ever suggested to me that his mother should lecture me about how I was Doing It All Wrong, I'd be handing him his butt on a platter.

Even if you were making really stupid decisions that were destroying your, your husbands and your child's future? How much pride do you have??
There's a HUGE difference between a spouse approaching a problem as, "We need to talk about this. What can we do to help this?" vs, "You have a problem, and my mother has a solution."

No, there isn't a huge difference. The second option communicates the same message as the first, just in a much more honest way.

Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Allie on March 03, 2015, 04:27:06 PM
I am really sorry you are in this situation.  If you do decide that you and your wife are better off as co parents instead of partners, I wish you the best.  If your wife is a good, loving mother to your child, please don't follow the advice of some of these other posters and take your child and run.  It will be much better for everyone if you two are able to work out your differences and get her to a place where she is healthy.

I'll stand behind my statements that the mil idea was a bad one and completely undermines any head way you may have been making to get her to stop giving money to her family. 

Consider taking another approach and reframing everything as for your son.  Obviously, this will only work if she is motivated to sacrifice for your child, but presenting your goals in terms of ensuring that he has a stable home and opportunities may get you a lot further.  An IRA can double as an education saving account.  Maybe if she sees the money going in something like that she will be motivated to get you back to 20%.  Maybe if she realizes that funding her sisters hockey mom status will take that away from her and her child when he's older, she'll stop.  These discussions need to be done with finesse.  More along the lines of "we can give him the world if we stop trying to have it all for ourselves." And less "you are stealing from our child's future."

The whole "live like you are no one else so you can live like no one else" tag line seems to resonate with people who want a fancier life.  Put down the MMM and get on the Dave Ramsey train.  Especially, if you guys are down with JC.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Annamal on March 03, 2015, 04:31:33 PM
And the MIL idea?  OMG.  If my husband ever suggested to me that his mother should lecture me about how I was Doing It All Wrong, I'd be handing him his butt on a platter.

Even if you were making really stupid decisions that were destroying your, your husbands and your child's future? How much pride do you have??
There's a HUGE difference between a spouse approaching a problem as, "We need to talk about this. What can we do to help this?" vs, "You have a problem, and my mother has a solution."

No, there isn't a huge difference. The second option communicates the same message as the first, just in a much more honest way.

The first approach sets both partners up as a team working towards a common goal, the second adds yet another division to an already fractured partnership and pits one partner against the other and his mother.

Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: iampatriciag on March 03, 2015, 04:56:07 PM
Firstly, the MIL lesson:

Rationally, the MIL bit seems like a great solution - eliminate my debt, figure out how to get my spending down (like I don't know in the first place).  Nevertheless, I'm not emotionally invested in this relationship, and yet I still think it was a terrible idea.  I think I would be livid.  Please don't invite outside family into (both of) your problems unless both of you agree you need outside help.

But you're halfway there - you know you need outside help.  Like others have mentioned, you're reaching for different goals and you've said you don't communicate, so how can you expect her to understand your goals, let alone follow along with them?  Especially since you don't seem to know what hers are either. 

You're looking for opinions - I think you should put divorce out of your mind.  You've got a 3-year-old!  And a wife who seems to be in some emotional/anxiety distress.  This is your family - you've provided very well financially, now consider how to provide the emotional stability to get to a happy home for all of you.  Professional therapy is a helpful resource.  Until your wife starts talking about divorce and saying she wants out, I'd say, work on your underlying issues: communicate, get on the same team, earn each other's trust, work to make each other happy. 

Step 1: communicate.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Chuck on March 03, 2015, 06:04:35 PM

You're looking for opinions - I think you should put divorce out of your mind.  You've got a 3-year-old! 
It would be much worse for the child to grow up in a home where his parents clearly resent one another, rather than to simply have divorced parents.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Rezdent on March 03, 2015, 06:32:56 PM

You're looking for opinions - I think you should put divorce out of your mind.  You've got a 3-year-old! 
It would be much worse for the child to grow up in a home where his parents clearly resent one another, rather than to simply have divorced parents.
Agree.
However divorce may not resolve the underlying issues.  I know quite a few folks who remarried into the same situation  (multiple times!).  What's the point of that if the OP finds himself in a similar relationship down the road?
Best to work on the existing  relationship.  Even if it eventually fails, the OP would have a better understanding of why.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: act01 on March 03, 2015, 07:09:08 PM
And the MIL idea?  OMG.  If my husband ever suggested to me that his mother should lecture me about how I was Doing It All Wrong, I'd be handing him his butt on a platter.

Even if you were making really stupid decisions that were destroying your, your husbands and your child's future? How much pride do you have??
There's a HUGE difference between a spouse approaching a problem as, "We need to talk about this. What can we do to help this?" vs, "You have a problem, and my mother has a solution."

No, there isn't a huge difference. The second option communicates the same message as the first, just in a much more honest way.
...are you married?
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: MrsCoolCat on March 03, 2015, 09:10:20 PM
LMAO to the post above me! Good luck. It sounds tough. Ironically my DH and I have very similar Mustachian views even before finding this website. However, yesterday Macy's had a really huge sale and I bought... 3 pairs of shoes. I had the first nag about, "Do you really need all those shoes." It was kind of funny but they were $21, $23 and $34. I will only be this young once, as I'm balancing FI and living a little and I like shoes and to look nice.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Heather in Ottawa on March 03, 2015, 09:41:31 PM
Marriage can be a wonderful thing. Sometimes, divorce can also be a wonderful thing, because it opens up a new future. Figure out what you need to live a happy life, and figure out how to get there. No matter what path you wind up taking, I think you should expect that there will be better times ahead. Look forward to those better times while you work on the present. Good luck.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Chuck on March 04, 2015, 07:18:48 AM
And the MIL idea?  OMG.  If my husband ever suggested to me that his mother should lecture me about how I was Doing It All Wrong, I'd be handing him his butt on a platter.

Even if you were making really stupid decisions that were destroying your, your husbands and your child's future? How much pride do you have??
There's a HUGE difference between a spouse approaching a problem as, "We need to talk about this. What can we do to help this?" vs, "You have a problem, and my mother has a solution."

No, there isn't a huge difference. The second option communicates the same message as the first, just in a much more honest way.
...are you married?
I am, and we are both very honest with one another when one of us is fucked up.

This guy's wife is fucked up. One of the things that drew me to this site in the first place is the willingness to tell hard truths without the veneer of sensitivity.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Pigeon on March 04, 2015, 07:35:11 AM
This site doles out facepunches for people who request them about their spending habits.

The OP's wife isn't into this stuff.  Most people actually aren't.  She didn't come here and request to have her spending critiqued and she sure as hell didn't ask the OP's mommy to chime in with her two cents.

It's pretty clear that the OP's wife has anxiety issues that should be treated. They also seem to have deeper issues in their marriage, and if the OP has an interest in preserving the marriage, those issues need to be addressed.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: CommonCents on March 04, 2015, 08:11:56 AM
OP why not sit down and take a really close look at the spending?  Figure out how much is for the kids, how much for true luxuries, and how much to relatives.  But then dig deeper - ok, it's to relatives, but was it for luxuries, or things you would have agreed with had you been asked (e.g. help with medical expenses, diapers for kids, maybe even money to fix a car to get to work).
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Cpa Cat on March 04, 2015, 09:16:42 AM
I am, and we are both very honest with one another when one of us is fucked up.

This guy's wife is fucked up. One of the things that drew me to this site in the first place is the willingness to tell hard truths without the veneer of sensitivity.

This is not a marital advice forum, though.

Criticizing someone because they spent too much on their phone plan is a lot different from advocating divorce in a situation that we really know very little about.

Cutting off a relationship is a lot more complicated than cutting off cable.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: tlars699 on March 04, 2015, 09:43:58 AM
We generally perceive and advice based on our own situations and experiences, and I will no doubt do the same...

I believe that most of us are looking at this as a "marriage" relationship, and trying to solve that. But I think it's relatively clear that we're talking about two individuals here. This is not a partnership. It would likely be better if it was, and if they can head in that direction, that would be great.

For now, she is an individual with a child and some problems to deal with. She can't find satisfaction. Spending money gives her a temporary relief, but it doesn't make the overall discomfort go away. What is her purpose? What does she want from life? Why is she with this man who wants different things from her? She probably had some dreams and goals at some point. Spending money on temporary relief wasn't it.

I don't know if the OP and his wife can find common ground beyond their child and make a mutually beneficial relationship evolve out of that.

OP - what do you like about her? What are her redeeming qualities (however latent they may now be)?

When the OP tries to "persuade his wife to join his quest for FIRE" she sees someone coming at her and saying "I want something from you. I want to take away your temporary relief. I want that because it will benefit me."

+1-

She is also not listening, because she has no say whatsoever in how they're going to solve it.
Him taking over her credit card debt, and getting half payments from her was even more of the same- all the stress with the paternalistic guidance? Why not just give it to him to solve completely for her, then NO Stress.

I have a question in How Did He Find Out? Did she come to him and ask him for help, and have him blow up about it? Then no wonder she's all defensive.

Agreed with previous posters: You need a counselor.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Retire-Canada on March 04, 2015, 10:43:03 AM

It would be much worse for the child to grow up in a home where his parents clearly resent one another, rather than to simply have divorced parents.

+1 - One of the happiest days of my childhood was when my dad moved out. They were both fine parents living apart, but shitty together.

-- Vik
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: act01 on March 04, 2015, 07:11:07 PM
I am, and we are both very honest with one another when one of us is fucked up.

This guy's wife is fucked up. One of the things that drew me to this site in the first place is the willingness to tell hard truths without the veneer of sensitivity.

This is not a marital advice forum, though.

Criticizing someone because they spent too much on their phone plan is a lot different from advocating divorce in a situation that we really know very little about.

Cutting off a relationship is a lot more complicated than cutting off cable.
+1! Thank you!
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: act01 on March 04, 2015, 07:15:33 PM
This guy's wife is fucked up. One of the things that drew me to this site in the first place is the willingness to tell hard truths without the veneer of sensitivity.
There's a difference between telling the truth and judging other people. To quote something I read recently: "Judging someone does not define who they are; it defines who you are." So maybe it's worth thinking twice before calling someone else's wife that you don't know "fucked up"
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: The Beacon on March 04, 2015, 07:41:14 PM
The OP's wife isn't into this stuff.  Most people actually aren't.  She didn't come here and request to have her spending critiqued and she sure as hell didn't ask the OP's mommy to chime in with her two cents.

It does not really matter if she requested or not.  On an open forum, people just critique whatever they want.  As for the MIL suggestion,  if you look at it without any emotions, there is nothing wrong with it. MIL is a family member.  Family members sit down together and solve problems as objectively as possible. This is as normal as 1+1=2. Of course, it did not work for OP's wife due to her low EQ.

For low EQ people, all they see is lecturing. It is very much like working in a team, some team members just do not want to admit they are wrong when faced with even constructive criticism. These people will perish when others with an open mind will prosper. 

 
Remember the rebelllious teenage phase most of us went through?  There is nothing wrong with being young and stupid. But there is everything wrong when you behave like that in your 30s, 40s, 50s...
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: G-dog on March 04, 2015, 07:41:39 PM
I am, and we are both very honest with one another when one of us is fucked up.

This guy's wife is fucked up. One of the things that drew me to this site in the first place is the willingness to tell hard truths without the veneer of sensitivity.

This is not a marital advice forum, though.

Criticizing someone because they spent too much on their phone plan is a lot different from advocating divorce in a situation that we really know very little about.

Cutting off a relationship is a lot more complicated than cutting off cable.

Well said.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Annamal on March 04, 2015, 08:18:03 PM
The OP's wife isn't into this stuff.  Most people actually aren't.  She didn't come here and request to have her spending critiqued and she sure as hell didn't ask the OP's mommy to chime in with her two cents.

It does not really matter if she requested or not.  On an open forum, people just critique whatever they want.  As for the MIL suggestion,  if you look at it without any emotions, there is nothing wrong with it. MIL is a family member.  Family members sit down together and solve problems as objectively as possible.

Family members of the kind you describe presumably have a close enough relationship that one member of a family does not feel that they have to bribe others in order to offer advice.

There is a great deal of skill involved in offering constructive criticism in a way that the recipient is able to take it on board without becoming defensive.
I haven't mastered it and I try to remember to ask permission before offering suggestions unless someone is actively seeking advice (or involved in an online discussion where most of the rules seem to go out the window).
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: The Beacon on March 04, 2015, 08:46:23 PM
The OP's wife isn't into this stuff.  Most people actually aren't.  She didn't come here and request to have her spending critiqued and she sure as hell didn't ask the OP's mommy to chime in with her two cents.

It does not really matter if she requested or not.  On an open forum, people just critique whatever they want.  As for the MIL suggestion,  if you look at it without any emotions, there is nothing wrong with it. MIL is a family member.  Family members sit down together and solve problems as objectively as possible.

Family members of the kind you describe presumably have a close enough relationship that one member of a family does not feel that they have to bribe others in order to offer advice.

There is a great deal of skill involved in offering constructive criticism in a way that the recipient is able to take it on board without becoming defensive.
I haven't mastered it and I try to remember to ask permission before offering suggestions unless someone is actively seeking advice (or involved in an online discussion where most of the rules seem to go out the window).

People look at things from different angles.  If one looks at it as a bribe, he immediately builds a defensive wall to protect his pride in situation like this.  From my angle, it is help.  If you bribe me, you can critique me or scream at me all you want :)     There is nothing wrong to have pride.  But if it is too fragile, then it is problematic.

Of course, offering advice and having it accepted is an art, especially to ones not very close to you.  But for people very close to you, you should be point blank honest. If you can't be brutally honest to your wife or hubby, you have a problem there.

My wife and I check each others' stress level once every few days. There is absolutely no beating around the bush.  Everything is up for discussion.  On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being most stressful, I am like 1 and she is like 3 due to taking care of 2 kids.  For my stress score of 1, it is mostly because I am only 2-3 years away from FI and have a frugal wife taking care of everything in my back yard....   Team work is gold. Without my wife, I 'd perhaps toil away until I am 65.

Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: act01 on March 04, 2015, 09:48:39 PM
People look at things from different angles.  If one looks at it as a bribe, he immediately builds a defensive wall to protect his pride in situation like this.  From my angle, it is help.  If you bribe me, you can critique me or scream at me all you want :)     There is nothing wrong to have pride.  But if it is too fragile, then it is problematic.
If it's a good bribe I'd take it too. ;) I see this as a matter of family dynamics, though. Not everyone has a support network that includes their extended family. It may be a source of strain if one spouse has that kind of support network and the other's family isn't that way.

I think of it like a Thanksgiving meal. If you've ever had a hodgepodge of friends or family together, everyone tends to share how their family does things differently. Where you get into problems is when people start saying, "the way you're doing it isn't right, and we're going to do my family's recipe because it's better." That's what I hear in these conversations sometimes - it's judgement, and not constructive criticism.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: capitalguy on March 05, 2015, 05:11:43 AM
Amen to Sharpy!
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Cinder on March 05, 2015, 06:32:42 AM
And the MIL idea?  OMG.  If my husband ever suggested to me that his mother should lecture me about how I was Doing It All Wrong, I'd be handing him his butt on a platter.

Even if you were making really stupid decisions that were destroying your, your husbands and your child's future? How much pride do you have??
There's a HUGE difference between a spouse approaching a problem as, "We need to talk about this. What can we do to help this?" vs, "You have a problem, and my mother has a solution."

No, there isn't a huge difference. The second option communicates the same message as the first, just in a much more honest way.

The first approach sets both partners up as a team working towards a common goal, the second adds yet another division to an already fractured partnership and pits one partner against the other and his mother.

I've had similar issues with this kind of thinking in the past... I tend to look just at statements for what they say, not how they'll make people feel.  The meaning of the words both SAY the same thing, but when you put the words incontext with the way the person you are talking to will hear them, they tell another story... communication is a lot more then the words that pass between people, it's all the space in between.







We generally perceive and advice based on our own situations and experiences, and I will no doubt do the same...

I believe that most of us are looking at this as a "marriage" relationship, and trying to solve that. But I think it's relatively clear that we're talking about two individuals here. This is not a partnership. It would likely be better if it was, and if they can head in that direction, that would be great.

For now, she is an individual with a child and some problems to deal with. She can't find satisfaction. Spending money gives her a temporary relief, but it doesn't make the overall discomfort go away. What is her purpose? What does she want from life? Why is she with this man who wants different things from her? She probably had some dreams and goals at some point. Spending money on temporary relief wasn't it.

I don't know if the OP and his wife can find common ground beyond their child and make a mutually beneficial relationship evolve out of that.

OP - what do you like about her? What are her redeeming qualities (however latent they may now be)?

When the OP tries to "persuade his wife to join his quest for FIRE" she sees someone coming at her and saying "I want something from you. I want to take away your temporary relief. I want that because it will benefit me."

+1-

She is also not listening, because she has no say whatsoever in how they're going to solve it.
Him taking over her credit card debt, and getting half payments from her was even more of the same- all the stress with the paternalistic guidance? Why not just give it to him to solve completely for her, then NO Stress.

I have a question in How Did He Find Out? Did she come to him and ask him for help, and have him blow up about it? Then no wonder she's all defensive.

Agreed with previous posters: You need a counselor.


I listen to the YNAB podcasts that Jessie Mecham puts out, and there was one where he talked about him and his wife.  He was managing the finances and she felt disconnected....  Once he put her incharge of the budget (that they discussed together each week/month), she really got involved because she could 'own' the budget. 

I think he mentioned that it seemed like 'he could pay for the things he wanted' with respect to the budget/things he was doing with his business, but she didn't have any say, and that her taking up that part of the process was pretty big in getting them to  work together like a well oiled machine.   

I feel like the separate finances are part of the problem.  I'll second the opinion above that you should keep the accounts separate, but combine all of the accounts together in mint, (or YNAB if that would suit you, but MINT is a great first step) and start out initially doing a daily reconciliation to make sure everything is categorized correctly. DO THIS TOGETHER.... help her feel involved in the process.  Have her 'drive' while you look over the information.  Once you've gone though a couple weeks most things should be in order, and you can slow down to weekly checkins going over everything.   

You will still be able to log in and glance at what is going on.  This Doesn't solve the problem if she goes out and gets any additional credit cards or anything like that. 
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Pigeon on March 05, 2015, 06:48:13 AM
The OP's wife isn't into this stuff.  Most people actually aren't.  She didn't come here and request to have her spending critiqued and she sure as hell didn't ask the OP's mommy to chime in with her two cents.

It does not really matter if she requested or not.  On an open forum, people just critique whatever they want.  As for the MIL suggestion,  if you look at it without any emotions, there is nothing wrong with it. MIL is a family member.  Family members sit down together and solve problems as objectively as possible. This is as normal as 1+1=2. Of course, it did not work for OP's wife due to her low EQ.

For low EQ people, all they see is lecturing. It is very much like working in a team, some team members just do not want to admit they are wrong when faced with even constructive criticism. These people will perish when others with an open mind will prosper. 

 
Remember the rebelllious teenage phase most of us went through?  There is nothing wrong with being young and stupid. But there is everything wrong when you behave like that in your 30s, 40s, 50s...



Everyone's family dynamics are different.  I get along OK with my MIL, but she is not family in the sense that my husband and kids are family.  She's not part of my "team."  She's not a neutral party. 

OP's mother in law might have done a good job managing her own personal finances, but that doesn't mean that her opinion is useful to her DIL.  There are lots of emotions around money for just about everyone, and there are often tensions with inlaws.  My MIL did a decent job of managing her and FIL's finances, but her situation is not my situation and her values are not my values.  If I wanted financial advice, I would be the one to determine the source.  If I were doing it with my husband, we would determine the source together.

I don't think you'd find a marriage counselor on earth who would suggest that bringing inlaws in on something like this is a good idea.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: frugaldrummer on March 05, 2015, 05:06:17 PM
Well, looking at it from the MILs point of view, if I was going to cover a spendthrift relative's $15k debt, I'd darn well want some commitment on their part to get educated on money management in return, so I could be sure we wouldn't be back in the same place again in a couple of years.

I'd suggest running a credit report to make sure $15k is the real total. It's also important to figure out if this is compulsive shopping (a real psychiatric disorder) or simply childish behavior. And yes, it would be good to encourage her to find a new job, just in case things go south (and also so she can help shovel out of this hole).

You might also try to find out what your legal responsibility for her debts would be in your state. I live in a community property state, so if my ex had run up credit cards, I would have been stuck for half in a divorce. I've heard horror stories of spouses running up 50 or 100k in hidden debt.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: Cinder on March 05, 2015, 08:47:31 PM
Well, looking at it from the MILs point of view, if I was going to cover a spendthrift relative's $15k debt, I'd darn well want some commitment on their part to get educated on money management in return, so I could be sure we wouldn't be back in the same place again in a couple of years.

I don't understand why everyone is talking about this like it's a terrible thing.  I know that this is usually one of the 'tactics' that Dave Ramsey always recommends, for people who feel like they 'have to help' but don't want to just enable people to go on burning money like it's going out style without a lasting fix.    The way it was brought up to the wife may not have been the best way in this situation, but the act from the MIL isn't something I'd consider to be negative...
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: act01 on March 05, 2015, 11:12:47 PM
The way it was brought up to the wife may not have been the best way in this situation, but the act from the MIL isn't something I'd consider to be negative...
You nailed it on the head, assuming it's a traditional/healthy relationship. But, some parents give money just to have influence on their children's choices or behavior (think narcissist). Just recently, there was a thread where someone had in their budget something like "money sent to China for in-laws". If I remember correctly, the poster was tight on money, and the in-laws were literally gambling it away. It might have been a cultural thing, but the poster was financially indebted to his/her in-laws for life because they had paid for their daughter's college.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: HazelStone on March 06, 2015, 11:40:13 AM
I suffer from anxiety disorder/depression myself. I take high doses of meds and still go to therapy. I've been through two layoffs. It was Not Pretty. My dear husband was a rock and incredibly patient. He is a real mensch, and I feel lucky to have him. We are BOTH frugal though, so we've had very little disagreements on money and were able to structure our finances where we could withstand some punishment to our cash flow. I have also worked in a couple of toxic work environments, which played merry hell on my psyche and gave me a bad case of burnout, contributing to the anxiety disorder (one of these jobs involved an hour's commute on a very nasty stretch of highway).

In short, I sympathize with your wife. Mostly, not entirely.

The bitch about anxiety disorder is that the sufferer is not operating in anything resembling "normal" reality. The disorder can also sneak up on you where you don't always realize how far you've sunk. I still fight my issues regularly, and my main improvement from therapy has been learning to step back and TRY to be more objective about the situation at hand. This is far easier said than done. Anxiety disorder also keeps one ALWAYS on the defensive, sometimes assuming bad intentions that are not there. Keep this in mind. Her world is not your world at this time. If she gets panic attacks and the like, then she probably feels very much not in control of things already.

In the worst depths of my anxiety disorder, I was afraid my husband would leave me, find someone who wasn't so much "trouble." Maybe a younger woman, too, while he was at it (I'm five years older than he is). That was the pesky neurotransmitter imbalance talking. In truth, my Sweetie still makes goo-goo eyes at me five years in.

Let's look at the timeline here, and try to walk in her (perhaps overpriced) shoes. How long was your wife at the job she quit, before she married you? Did her commute from that old job improve or become worse upon moving in together? Do you know if she was helping out her family then?

So far:
3.5 years ago you had a shotgun wedding.
3 years ago your son was born.
2 years ago you turned over a new leaf, financially. Your wife did not buy in. (Where, exactly, have you saved up that 100K? Is it even in joint accounts?)
1 year ago she quit FT work, with your blessing, once her anxiety disorder got the better of her. Did you make job search expectations clear before you gave your blessing? Did you work on a budget then?
She spent some months unemployed, then got her part time gig a few months ago (but just quit it?).
 
From her point of view I imagine it's something like this: A few years back she had a decent job, her own place, bought whatever fun/shiny things she wanted, and was doing all right. Some job stress, sure, but who doesn't have it? A little bit of a credit card bill run up, but don't most people? (not my view, just sayin') Being in her early thirties at the time you met, she's used to having a lot of autonomy. Then she meets a guy, and has an unexpected pregnancy. From an anxiety perspective that's a huge OH SHIT right there. She moves in with her soon-to-be-spouse, is now accountable to another person, has the baby, has to juggle the baby with her stressful job, keeps buying unnecessary things for a quick mood fix, and has a little breakdown.

Perhaps she was dealing with a bit of post-partum depression at the time, too? How far/how close does her family live to you? What's her local support network like? There is a higher likelihood of PPD if a new mother lives far away from family and friends' support.

In any case, you are being seen as "the big meanie" who doesn't offer her a bit of your cash to subsidize her normal (and reasonable, to her) expenditures even when she is busting ass keeping everything together. I don't actually agree with this view, mind you!

She's probably feeling very insecure. In that mental state it is also hard to take a long term view. But she has to WANT to help herself as well.
 
Try framing her actions in terms of giving her security: "I am doing this to make sure OUR CHILD has a good, stable life and good education. I'm doing this so NEITHER of us have to work a crappy job that drives us insane, but buys us time to find a decent gig. I want to make sure that WE are not eating cat food in retirement, or losing the house in a layoff. I need YOUR HELP in this goal by doing/not doing x,y,z. If we continue on this rate of saving, we will reach FI in XX years, IF YOU HELP US get there. I know you are stressed out right now and I want to HELP YOU deal with it in a productive manner. We can get through this."

Does she like the field for which she was trained? Would some retraining help if she bought into it? Do you suspect any crisis of confidence on the career front?

Remember- this is the mother of your child. If you go for the escape hatch, you still have to deal with her for oh, 15 years yet. Consider the cost of divorce and child support vs. going a little slower on the savings rate. Hell, bribe her for reaching milestones if you must! Also remember that in 2-3 years the kiddo will be in school and she will have less pressure on her time and sanity. Is she afraid to put the kiddo in day care? Ask her to plan for the short term to intermediate future. Again, she is very much on the defensive already. Show her that you are really on HER side, not her adversary. Show her that she is actually in a safe place (which might not happen without therapy/meds/both). Don't smack her on the head with a rolled up newspaper like she's an errant puppy.

I agree with the sentiments that she needs professional help. I hope she is willing to find it. She also needs to work on boundary issues with her family. It sounds like maybe money=love in her mind. Given how your relationship started, there really wasn't time to establish family boundaries before the mega-stress hit; try to bear that in mind. That gets very complicated very quickly. But she is a big girl and her first responsibility is to her husband and child.

Good luck. I can only imagine the sort of stress you both must be under right now.
Title: Re: Help with a unmustachian wife
Post by: MissPeach on March 24, 2015, 02:40:50 PM
No new advice here over what's already been mentioned but I do agree it's probably something internal that's causing the issue. When I was married I shopped and spent like crazy (but I was also the breadwinner). After the divorce I went very mustashian once I realized what the stuff was doing and how it was hurting other things I wanted like job freedom and FIRE.

I do agree with things like therapy if you think she has any desire to change and work with you as a team. She likely won't until she feels she has hit rock bottom. If someone won't take ANY help then it's perhaps better to walk away. I would be careful how you approach it though because she will probably perceive it as criticism, control, with distrust, etc. this far into the problems.

There is a blog I thought I would mention. It's called recovering shopaholic. I felt a little better reading about someone who was in a similar situation as me - using things in my life and about me as a crutch to spend money. Sometimes it's helpful to know you're not the only one out there with the problem.