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Financial infidelity hurts


Marriage & Life Partnerships Debunking the old-ball-and-chain stereotype one couple at a time.

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Old 26th September 2013, 11:48 AM   #1
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Financial infidelity hurts

(Married 14 years. 2 kids, elementary and middle school aged.)

A few years ago, I arrived home from a business lunch to find a note taped to my front door. It was from my mortgage company and basically stated that someone had come by to do a "well-being" check on the property to see if anyone still lived there. I called the number on the card and was shocked to learn that my mortgage was three months past due. I work full time and earn a decent salary, plus my wife (stay-at-home mom previously) had just gone back to work part time. In addition to that, we had the safety net of inheritance money from my parents, who had passed away.

I immediately phoned my wife (who takes care of our finances) to tell her about the mortgage being past due and she acted shocked as well.

So first step was damage control. I cashed out an old life insurance policy and paid the mortgage company what we owed to bring us current.

Second, I visited my bank and got statements from our checking account for the past year. I was shocked at the frequency of large ATM withdrawals -- $200 to $300 at a time.

Third, I did some snooping. Finally, in a cedar chest beneath my wife's sweaters, I discovered the truth. Bills from the IRS, addressed to my wife but at a PO Box. I also discovered statements from a credit card that I did not know existed, also addressed to my wife at the PO Box.

By now you're probably thinking I'm a fool for trusting my wife to handle the bills, and that a good percentage of marital problems stem from finances. Well, I know that now.

My wife never initially came clean. I got the "trickle truth" as I've learned from these forums. Short story, our taxes were audited, she didn't want to tell me about it and she tried to handle everything by herself. When we finally had "the talk" after I found the IRS and credit card statements, she said that it was good to finally tell me about everything and that she was having a very difficult time keeping it together. She hid the truth to try to protect me from knowing and worrying about it. I understand and appreciate that but we could have adjusted our lifestyle and made smarter spending decisions together versus one person exhausting our finances, nest egg and all, to deal with it.

From everything I discovered, the math doesn't add up. Seems like what money went "missing" is more than the debts we owed. I get all sorts of excuses and told I should be happy that she tried to protect me. "What a burden it was on her." Basically, any time I question anything it turns into an uncomfortable conversation or argument and does no good.

This whole experience has led to a very unfortunate erosion of trust in our marriage. I love her but I do look at her in a different light. Things are just ďdifferentĒ now. To some degree, it does feel like Iíve been cheated on. Maybe a better word is deceived. Itís a tough pill to swallow.

The feeling overflows into other aspects of our lives. Enter Facebook. She is constantly on it. Her phone is either in her pocket or by her side (nightstand, bathroom, etc.). Always within reach. It irks me that she is so into everyone elseís lives when she could be working on ours! I had an account for a while, but deleted it about six months ago. Havenít been back and donít miss it! But I do wonder why she is so enamored with following everything. The trust issue.

She is also back to work full time in her career field. Long hours but better pay. Iím super proud of her because it wasnít easy to get back into the working world after being a stay-at-home mom for a decade. She is doing great but again, some of the long hours have me wondering what else she could be up to.

I donít think Iíd be as worrisome if Facebook were removed from the equation. I bring this up from time to time but it always leads to an argument. Iím being controlling, insecure, paranoid, etc. I tell her that she just doesnít get it, that itís hard for me after what happened, and that I donít have the trust in her that I once did. Again, she blows off the financial episode like it was no big deal and I end up feeling guilty or in the doghouse for bringing it up. I have this trapped feeling, like Iím alone with the trust issue.

Thanks for listening.
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Old 26th September 2013, 12:16 PM   #2
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I bring this up from time to time but it always leads to an argument. Iím being controlling, insecure, paranoid, etc. I tell her that she just doesnít get it, that itís hard for me after what happened, and that I donít have the trust in her that I once did. Again, she blows off the financial episode like it was no big deal and I end up feeling guilty or in the doghouse for bringing it up. I have this trapped feeling, like Iím alone with the trust issue.
Interesting that "gaslighting" can occur in contexts other than infidelity (though it sounds like you have your doubts on that front, too), though I'm not sure why it's a little surprising. It's probably a fairly normal, if entirely disfunctional, way of dealing with any sort of wrongdoing.

I assume the financial issues (if not the feelings from those issues) are largely in the past, and that you have resumed control over the finances. I'd probably recommend marital counseling (MC) to get past the feelings and resentment. Tell your wife in no uncertain terms that this is very serious (and demonstrating that seriousness is an important reason for doing this in the first place, besides the reason(s) I mention below), and if she's serious about the marriage then she WILL go and not give you crap about it. That sort of counseling is all about improving communication, dealing with resentments, and generally improving marriages, and not all counselers are created equal; be prepared to go through a couple before you find a good fit.

Your suspicions about possible infidelity are another matter. You certainly have good reasons not to trust her in general. There are various measures you can take, and I'm no expert, but start looking at such things as VARs (voice-activated recorders) secured under the seat of her car, a keylogger on her computer, and ways to monitor her phone usage. All designed to get the truth from a spouse who's incapable or unwilling to give that to you on his or her own.
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Old 26th September 2013, 12:22 PM   #3
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It's VERY hard when something like this happens! I know, as you may have seen on my own thread. She clearly had no intention of telling you what she's been up to. Where did the ATM money go? What did she spend it on? Is Facebook a new thing for her, or has she always been into it? What was she buying with that credit card? How do you feel about everything else in your relationship - is there sex, emotional intimacy?

She didn't tell you b/c she didn't want to worry you? Really?! She was spending that money on something other than the mortgage... And if the mortgage wasn't being paid, you're right, you could've done some belt-tightening, & to solve to delinquent mortgage problem it would've made sense to save money & lower your spending. I really don't have the sense she's totally come clean with you.

Your situation actually sounds a little worse than mine. But those girls shouldn't get a pass when they claim they lied from understandable motives, especially when they never revealed anything but were caught. Don't know what to do. Private investigator, maybe. Careful, I think legally she can incur debt you'll both be responsible for 'cause you're married. Good luck!
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Old 27th September 2013, 10:22 AM   #4
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All the spending was claimed to be for debts owed or for regular household things like groceries, clothes for the kids, etc. I never dug into the secret credit card but it was cut up and is now nearly paid off. The PO Box was finally closed after some prodding. We paid all that we owe to the IRS. We are doing OK financially although need to rebuild that nest egg. I keep a very close eye on the finances -- as much as I can without starting arguments or drama.

Trying to leave it all in the past but take the lessons learned. The erosion of trust part sucks. We did talk about it and I think we're making strides. She is finally starting to understand how her deception, even though well-intentioned, hurt me.

Gonna put my energy into enjoying her, our marriage, and our family. More walks and hand-holding and less worrying. Don't think I'll be playing detective, rather, work on communicating.
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Old 1st October 2013, 8:02 AM   #5
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Financial infidelity is just as valid as emotional and physical infidelity and should be treated as such. You have every right to feel the way you are feeling and I would highly recommend MC and IC. I am concerned that your wife still isn't coming clean. I would talk to a financial planner and would not sweep this under the rug. There are alarming coping skills that your wife is showing that need to be brought to light and addressed.

Sorry you are going through this.
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Old 2nd October 2013, 1:03 PM   #6
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Large cash withdrawals speak to either an addiction of some sort or a relationship on the side.

But the PO Box that the IRS sends correspondence to? Who filed the taxes? Did you not see your tax returns?

She LIED to you for a long time. DO NOT sweep this away. This is very serious. There's something going on that you don't know that she's not being truthful with. All these underlying issues have to be confronted and dealt with before you can come to the same page about household finances.

You need to start arguments and drama over the finances. Don't be a ****ing pussy! Be ****ing assertive! It's your money just as much as it is her's. If you don't agree with 100% of where every ****ing penny goes, then no deal. She ****ing lied to you for a long time about very serious matters. This isn't something that can just be glossed over. I agree with the sentiment about financial infidelity being just as valid as the other types. It's about power and trust.
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Old 3rd October 2013, 12:34 AM   #7
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Well, if she was spending the money on things, did you not wonder why all the sudden she had so many things? If she wasn't spending it on "things" then I'm quite certain you can conclude she was spending it on another man.....
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Old 3rd October 2013, 2:12 PM   #8
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All the spending was claimed to be for debts owed or for regular household things like groceries, clothes for the kids, etc. I never dug into the secret credit card but it was cut up and is now nearly paid off. .
I don't think you'll ever have peace until you understand where this money went. What was the LOC on the credit card? $5k? $10K? What was the yearly total of the ATM withdrawals? It sounds like more than could be spent on regular expenses.

You need an answer because any of the underlying motivations will have to be dealt with. Infidelity? Needs to be addressed for your marriage to have any chance. Drug addiction? Gambling? Shopping addiction?

I wouldn't be able to sleep without knowing the "why". Otherwise, as closely as you might be watching, impossible to prevent acting out again in same or other ways...

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Old 3rd October 2013, 6:03 PM   #9
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Things have been good between us! I appreciate your post. Thanks.

Looking into IC and possibly MC as well.
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Old 9th October 2013, 9:37 AM   #10
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i think he IS sweeping this under the rug.

she has provided no reason how this happened, where the those ATM w/d went, why the po box for the tax returns (cc i can understand not the irs) and he can't bring it up with drama.

how can you work on communication when a serious breakdown is being 'ignored.
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Old 10th October 2013, 1:04 PM   #11
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have to say this behavior from her is very strange don't sweep it under the rug you need to confront drama if needed and clear all of your doubts it is obviously bothering you, how can you even trust her?
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