I’ll step up and say something I’ve said before on this list. Sometimes it’s enough to go through the DR class to get a couple back on track financially. But sometimes DR simply reveals deeper issues between how two people (doesn’t matter the gender) work with stuff like money. I know from my own experience being married now twice, my first partner had a very simple strategy – spend it all. That marriage lasted quite a while before we finally threw in the towel because we were tired of arguing all the time. My second partner and current very-much-loved DH, has another relatively simple strategy – save it all. I’m trying to run a business where money coming in and out is like the flood of blood through the veins. It’s gotta move to be useful. So simplistic money management strategies weren’t working anymore. Tack on top of that the fact that I went through my divorce and picked up a number of “oh my gosh we might not have money tomorrow so use it today” habits, which I’m still unlearning, and you’ve got a recipe for financial mis-management on both sides that will never ever agree. Not without some stronger tools and deeper understanding of the mechanisms involved.
We had a discussion a couple of days ago about new year’s resolutions and I shared mine about finishing paying off the credit cards this year. She discussed other things, but not finances. Then, she told me that she was working on paying off her cards and was making progress. At that point, I asked her about whether she had been using her credit cards and she denied it. I then said, “Are you sure because I can tell that you have been spending more money than you have?” At that, she told me that she has used them a little bit for Christmas, but not much.
So, I logged into her account this morning (I have the password because this is how I manage our joint checking account) and looked at her credit card activities for her one card. I calculated out $3400 dollars in credit card purchases since August. Granted, she is also paying 600 a month into the balance, but the total balance has gone up by about 2000. She did have nearly 1000 in car repairs as part of that, but she did not have enough savings to cover it because she has gradually windled down her 1000 that she had saved.
So, I am tempted to put all of this into an email that I send to her, partly because I have no idea whether she lied to me or whether she is just not aware. Like I said, she tends to be in denial about these kinds of things. She also told me that my constant worry about spending money took some of the fun out of Christmas for her so it may be that she was lying to me because I have been doing a fair amount of nagging when I see her buying things such as the recent laptop, running shoes, and kindle. I also complained some because we bought two expensive things for our 6 year old son, meaning that we were not able to stay within the allotted Christmas funds this year. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted my kids to have a Christmas, but I was working on finding really good used deals in places like E bay.
Of course, another issue here is that I feel guilty for looking at her personal credit card account and she may be upset at that. And, I do not have access to her other credit cards so I really don’t know whether she has put more money on those accounts either.
Why the email instead of in person? Well, it is so that both of us can have some space in a possible heated discussion. It also allows her to think about how she wants to respond before she responds. And, I tend to get really angry if I think that someone is lying to me so it would allow me the same kind of distance for thinking first. In my life, I’ve learned that I can regret what I’ve said in anger and it is not always easy to take it back. I truly do care about her and want to do this in a way that allows her to preserve her dignity, but also in a way that she can at least be aware of what she is doing.
Maryland just passed a law that same sex couples can marry, but I very much hesitate to do this until I feel more confident with the financial side of things. In all other ways, we truly do live as a married couple and we do own a house together so we are somewhat tied financially. If she ends up in bankruptcy, I’d be in trouble too. But, we have been friends since 1989 and a couple since 1996 and we do plan on spending our lives together. We are raising two children together. It would be so nice to feel confident enough to go ahead with this.
So, what do people think? Should I go ahead and risk sending her an email? Any ideas on what should be approached? Any wisdom from anyone who has done something similar?