AUNT TRUPHENA: How can I curb my wife’s spending?


Q: I have a problem with my wife’s spending habits. She is a secret spender and this has put a financial strain on us. Before we married she had some loans she didn’t tell me about. I’m angry, but I still want to save my marriage.

Every time I talk to her about this, we end up arguing bitterly. What should I do? Will we ever get out of this?

A: You are already trapped in a financially-burdened marriage, mostly caused by your wife. I must applaud you for still wanting to save your marriage.

It is sad that your wife didn’t tell you about her earlier debts, which might mean that she was afraid she might lose you after her disclosure. What is important, however, is how you are going to handle the situation and restore your marriage.

From your letter it is clear that your communication is poor; that is why it always ends in arguments. While I am aware that you know that your spouse’s outrageous spending habits are destroying your finances, please remember that how you choose to approach the situation may also affect the outcome.

Now that the confrontational approach is not working, you need to start another mode of communication. Remember that your wife will not like to feel attacked, whether she is the cause of a problem or not.

This means that you should be aware of your tone of voice and your approach to the conversation; this will start you off on a better footing than blaming her for causing you money problems.

Instead of accusing her by saying things like: “You must know you are spending too much and you are the reason why we are broke,” you can consider saying “I have noticed we are struggling to pay our bills lately; what can we do together to improve this?” Then she will feel that as much as she could be the cause of this, she is also useful in creating a solution. Secondly, consider creating a budget.

This is a very effective tool for managing money in a relationship, and both sides have to be on board for it to work. Set your goals together, decide as a couple where you both want to be financially in five or 10 years and make a plan. My wishes of success.