I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me. - Talk About Marriage
Financial Problems in Marriage When financial times are tough, it adds to the stress we deal with on a daily basis. This section is for talking about how financial problems affect our relationships and ways to cope.

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post #1 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 09:39 AM Thread Starter
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I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

I apologize, this is going to be long.

I am a newlywed of less than a year. My husband and I have been together for 6 years. Throughout our relationship, he has always been the major breadwinner, making 6 figures. Before I suffered a layoff, and then we made the decision (together) to move to an area with limited employment opportunities for me. Luckily his position is one in which he can work remotely so we were still able to maintain his 6 figure income.

After we moved, he wanted to start a small business (one of the reasons why we moved). I was very supportive, offering my time to help, even though financially, I could not contribute. He took out a loan to help with the expenses of starting up a business. He also had some outstanding credit card debt.

Meanwhile, I was severely under-employed so most of my salary was going towards some already accumulated debt (in the form of student loans and commercial debt). My husband (Then boyfriend) seemed OK with this although occasionally he would make remarks about the "financial inequality" in our relationship. I would get upset saying it wasn't my fault that I was laid off and we made the decision to relocate together and that I was doing the best I can to support him emotionally and with my time.

After about 8 months of being severely under-employed I was able to obtain a job in which I was less severely under-employed. This position still wasn't anywhere near the financial level of my previous position from which I was laid off. However it was in my field and provided a small amount of more money.

We got engaged and began planning our wedding. Not wanting to accumulate any more debt, we had a lengthy engagement (2 years) and paid for the wedding in cash. I will say that he did contribute more than I did - $10k to my $5k, however he never complained about it and we were on the same page with the type of wedding we wanted. In total, the wedding cost about $35,000 with our parents contributing as well. My husband did pay for our honeymoon ($5000) and made the decision to purchase me a $15000 ring set. I did not ask for these things and he will be the first to tell you that I am not flashy at all. I shop at Kohl's and TJ Maxx and get excited when I find a bargain.

Approximately 6-8 months before our wedding, we made the decision to once again relocate. I found a job rather quickly and was making about 10% more than what I did previously. However, still not up to the level I was pre-layoff. My then-fiance still made about 2.5x my salary, but any increase is good, right?

A few months after we were married we decided the wisest thing would be to combine finances. We had a "Financial meeting" in which we both laid our respective debts out on the table. Here is where I made my huge mistake. At this time I had about $35,000 in student loans and about $44,000 in credit card debt (from poor decisions, going to graduate school, medical costs, just unwise money management.)

Due to my embarrassment of such a high debt amount, I only told my husband about $30,000 in the credit card debt. His total debts were about the same and we came up with a plan in which we could aggressively work these debts down so that we can buy a home and start a family. He had been making fewer and fewer remarks about our financial inequality and seemed to have adopted the "We're a team, we're in this together, it's OUR income, not mine vs. your's." mentality. Things were going well and we were working our plan.

In my warped mind I thought that I could pay off the $14,000 by using my "fun" money (an amount previously agreed upon with my husband deposited into a private checking account which he had no access), picking up random babysitting jobs, etc, and that my husband would be none the wiser. I called both creditors (the $14,000 balance was spread out over 2 cards) and negotiated lower interest rates and have not used the cards in over 18 months. I have been paying slightly over the minimum payments (some months by $50, some by $5).

I had been wanting to tell him about this hidden debt but really struggled. He tends to be very analytical of finances. I do the grocery shopping and he gets frustrated with me if the bill is more than he expected. I try to explain that I don't set the prices, use coupons, food is just expensive!

Like I said before, I am not the flashy/spendy type. I am not just saying that to boost my ego. I shop at less expensive stores, rarely "shop for fun", use coupons and gift cards, etc. I drive a 7 year old car (paid off), and have never been one that needs or wants the latest and greatest.

So for the past 10 months or so since we had that initial "financial" meeting, I've kept this debt from my husband and have made payments on the sly. I know this was dishonest and it was eating me up inside. Finally, the other night, I came clean. I told him that I had to be honest with him and laid it out on the table. I started out with about $14k debt, and it is now down to about $11,500.

He reacted better than I could have imagined. He was flabbergasted and upset, but was calm and didn't freak out or get angry.

In the past few days he has expressed his anger and hurt but in a very mature, calm manner. He's told me there are some things I can do to make this situation better.
1. We need to wait at least 6 months to start trying for a baby (we were going to start trying in the next month or two). We would wait longer, however I have a medical condition and am in my early 30s so really, the door is closing there).
2. I need to "own" it. Whenever someone asks me about when we are going to buy a home or try for a baby, I need to essentially put the blame on myself for the delay. I don't have to say that I screwed up financially, but my husband would like me to at least deflect the reasons for waiting off of him.
3. He wants me to get a part time job. This is what I am struggling with. I recently accepted a new position in which I will be getting a 20% salary increase. That, along with some other better company offered benefits, should lead me to bringing home about 25% more than I do now. I am finally back to where I was pre-layoff 5 years ago. Ahead, even. He said that he is burnt out by carrying us financially for the past 5 years and I need to help out more so that we can "tow the line" more evenly.

But then in the next breath, my husband says that the part time job isn't really for the money (he is only expecting me to work through the holidays before we start trying for a baby), but more about showing him my remorse and that I understand the gravity of the situation. I do. I have plans this weekend to go through some of my belongings and list things on Ebay.

I understand what he is saying and know that "actions speak louder than words." What I am struggling with is the fact that I am trying to get my body "baby-ready" which takes a lot of work on my part. I don't want all of my hard work of the past few months to go down the drain. Working 40 hours per week and adding on another 20-30 to that, I feel, will greatly effect my health and mental state. I understand that I need to do something to show my remorse and that I am actively working towards fixing the problem. However, at the same time, I am starting a new job and do not want to be burnt out and exhausted all the time. It is hard enough as it is dealing with my medical condition - it is a full time job itself.

Also, when you look at our combined debt, even with the additional $11,500 I kept from him, we are about even. I have expressed my concerns with him regarding taking on additional part time work, and he basically says that he can foresee himself becoming resentful towards me if I don't work to fix this problem. I can already see myself getting resentful towards him if he forces me to take on a part time job - who is going to keep the house in order? Do laundry? Grocery shop? I am sure that all of those things will fall on my shoulders (even though he says he will help) and for what? The small amount of money I will make between now and the end of the holiday season (assuming I easily obtain a part time job) doesn't seem worth it to me. I estimate that I'll be able to make $1200-$1500.

He says it isn't a punishment, but that is what it feels like. I told him that I was so supportive of him and his business and that we are BOTH paying that debt off now. Yes, he may contribute more financially to the household (it's closer to 65/35 now) but our combined debts are pretty even and we are both working to get things in order. I can just see myself getting frustrated with being exhausted all the time and working my butt off to pay this down.

I apologize for the length. I know I was horribly wrong in deceiving my husband. How do I move past his forcing me to get a part time job...how do I move past viewing that as punishment?

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post #2 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 10:13 AM
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

If I were starting a new job and wanted to do well to make sure I kept that job and advanced in that job, I wouldn't take on another part time job to exhaust myself. I would want to make a good impression on my employer so when I told them I was pregnant, that they would want to work with me to make sure I could stay in my role even after maternity leave.

Not to mention, your new job is likely to require overtime hours, too, whether it's paid or not as many, many jobs do. You can't just leave at 5pm on the dot every day in order to run to your new job.

A part-time job might appease his resentment for the moment, but might be detrimental to your finances in the long run if you get fired for not working hard enough. And could be detrimental if his resentment that he has to do more at home replaces his resentment of being the primary breadwinner.

Which brings up another point. How, exactly, are you two planning to handle a baby? Will you continue to work? Who will be responsible for child care while you work? How will that be paid for? Will you quit? Then your H will be sole breadwinner. Is that going to create resentment?

I would focus on logic rather than emotion in discussing this. Just because you feel guilty about what you did doesn't change cold, hard reality when it comes to the expectations of a new employer.
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post #3 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 10:18 AM Thread Starter
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

Thanks for the response, norajane. Once a baby comes, we will both continue to work, unless we have twins, in which case, day care may price me out of working.

One of the reasons we are going to postpone trying is to pay down the debt so we do have more cash available for daycare costs.

Thank you for the thoughtful response. I really feel that I should give the new job a few weeks-month before pursuing part time employment, just so I can see how it goes, get in a rhythm, etc. He seems to think that I should nip this problem in the bud immediately and find a PT job ASAP.

I feel like it is a double edged sword. I get a part time job, he resents my big mistake less. However, will he resent me for not having as much time or energy in doing the household jobs? Thus leading to either an unpleasant (not as clean/organized) environment or him picking up my slack, leading to him resenting me?
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post #4 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 10:28 AM
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

Thank you for the thoughtful response. I really feel that I should give the new job a few weeks-month before pursuing part time employment, just so I can see how it goes, get in a rhythm, etc.
That sounds like a good compromise. It's a positive step toward addressing his issue without jeopardizing your new job.

Again, must focus on the big picture, and right now, the most important thing is your new job. The first few months are always the hardest as you get up to speed in the role, and while your new employer is placing the heaviest scrutiny on your abilities and attitude.

Stick to this as a good plan forward, and don't let him bully you into jeopardizing your new job.
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post #5 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 11:40 AM
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

It is punishment. You are using your "fun" money to show that you are paying off the debt. You don't say how much he is in debt. Is it equal to your debt? yes, you were wrong in keeping it from him. Have you figured out why you didn't tell him up front? Where you afraid of his reaction, or was he already being judgmental and were afraid, or was it just plain shame?

don't take on a part-time job for the holidays while starting a new job. that's not fair to either employer.

As he wants to be equal in finances, is everything else equal at home? division of duties? Its not tit for tat in marriage, its teamwork. I make less than my husband by choice so I can spend time after school with the kids and get them home. My husband can't cook, so I do all the cooking. He does the finances as I suck at it! I may not make as much money or work as many hours, but I put in more hours between work/kids than he does because that's what works for us.

When he says he is burnt out carrying the financial burden, that's bull. I'm sorry, but you didn't quit your job. My H was laid off for 9 months. I did what I could to make us some of the difference, but I didn't keep a tally. He was doing everything he could to find employment. TEAMWORK, that's what you are missing.

When you have a baby is he going to keep tally of how many diapers he changes vs you? Don't have a family until you can sort this out. It is much more than money, its attitude.
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post #6 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 11:50 AM
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

Oh this is MORE than a punishment.

He's using this to bring up his resentment over the inequity over the financial burden which I agree is bull.

Marriage is rarely even steven and that tit for tat attitude will destroy your relationship unless it's dealt with.

Don't get pregnant until this is resolved. I too have a big picture of him keeping tally over how many diapers he changed vs you or how often he got up and you didn't.
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post #7 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 12:14 PM
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

I can sympathize with the husband. Hiding an additional $14,000 in debt from your spouse is a pretty big deal. Regardless of who is bringing in what income. Not to mention that children are expensive themselves. That's a huge additional financial burden to take on in itself.

Correct me if I'm wrong but it doesn't sound like your husband is expecting you to bring in the type of money he is as much as he wants you to take on additional work where you can get it to pay off more of that debt. If you're carrying around almost $80,000 in debt and you're paying off slightly above the minimums there's a good chance you're probably still going to have that debt for decades if your personal income situation stays around where it is, which I'm sure he's well aware of.

So I can understand him wanting you to take on additional work where you can get it, especially if he's the primary breadwinner. You said he has debt himself but I'm assuming if he's making six figures he's able to manage it.

It reminds me of my best friend's situation. He was pretty resentful of his ex-girlfriend who had about $70,000 in debt in college loans for an Art Degree that she never finished and he basically had to support her. She would take babysitting jobs here and there and eventually started working at CVS on the weekends but it still wasn't enough to make much of a dent in all those loans and he had a lot of built up resentment over it. Especially since he managed to pay off his college loan of $24,000 even though it took him 7 years and he had to do it while supporting her as well at the same time.

And it wasn't that he expected her to pay off the debt anytime soon or suddenly start making something similar to his salary, but he got tired of her half-@$$ing it as far as work and contributing to the financial situation when he would work 8 - 10 hours a day 5 sometimes 6 days a week to support them both. I think he wanted to see her put in the same type of effort and hours that he was especially since he was supporting her and she had amassed all that debt, even if she wouldn't bring in as much money as him. He felt like because she put herself in the financial situation that she was in she should be working her @$$ off instead of taking part time jobs here and there with stretches in between.

I'm guessing that's kind of the mindset your husband has but idk. Hope it all works out though.

"The one who is most willing to walk away from the relationship, is the one who controls the relationship."

Last edited by Jasel; 08-23-2013 at 12:22 PM.
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post #8 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 12:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

Thank you all for the responses.

As far as why I didn't tell him upfront - honestly, I don't know. I think part of it was embarrassment and part of it was shame that I knew the financial inequalities were getting to him so I just didn't want to add to it. There are no excuses, I should have been honest upfront. I know that.

Our debt is about equal. We previously had been working on paying it off together as we have combined our finances. I just, foolishly, hid the extra $14k from him and was working on paying that off on my own. We sat down and created a new budget with my projected new income and taking in the newly revealed debt into consideration and the picture is better. Yet he still wants me to find a part time job to supplement.

He says that the PT job isn't for the money but to show him that I'm remorseful and actively working to fix the problem. I get that. I just don't know that it's realistic and it seems that he will only be happy if I'm working myself to the bone.

Around the house, i definitely do more, which he recognizes. Sometimes he will expect praise for things he does which is when I remind him that it's not a competition and there is no I in team.

As far as finances, he knows that it will never be and even 50/50. He doesn't expect that. I think in his mindset he had a certain debt number in his mind and now that I've told him, "hey, it's actually this worse number", he wants me to fix the problem since I wasn't honest up front.

Part of me completely understands. I don't know how I'd react if he came to me with a similar revelation. I don't think that I'd make him exhaust himself with an additional job though. I think I'd just figure out a way we could both make sacrifices to fix it. I'm feeling pretty unsupported in this, especially considering how much I have supported his ventures in the past (with starting a small business that WE are still paying the loan off).

I know I lied to him and it will take time to rebuild the trust. I completely understand that. I just don't know that risking my health, both physical and mental, is the best way to go about trying to remedy the issue. It'd be one thing if I could wipe the slate clean in a few months with a part time job, but obviously that won't happen. I just feel like the small amount of money I'd make from a seasonal PT job isn't worth the repercussions it may bring - me resenting him for making me do this, him resenting me for not keeping up with the house as much and having to pick up my slack, etc. But if I don't do it, I feel that he'll resent me for not taking control of the problem and at least attempting to help solve it.
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post #9 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 12:54 PM
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

I think you need to really think about all this. If he is this controlling now, it will only get worse when kids are involved. And, if you allow him to get by with attitude now, he has a green light to increase the pressure on other issues.
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post #10 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 01:18 PM
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

Men usually say what they mean, but I'm not sure that's 100% true in this case. He says he wants you to show you're remorseful and fix the problem - referring to the xtra $14k. But it seems more like the deception is more key to him. But that is an intangible and from everything you described he focuses on $$$ because that's more straight forward.

The debt was accumulated a while ago, so being "more remorseful" over $44k vs $30k doesn't make sense. You should only feel guilty about that past debt if you are still adding to it.

I'm curious - Have both of you cut up your credit cards? If not, neither of you have learned from your previous financial mistakes.

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post #11 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 01:37 PM Thread Starter
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

We no longer use credit cards and haven't for quite some time. We've been working a budget for a while now, this just adds to the bottom line.

The thing he's most upset with is the deception/lying to him.
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post #12 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 02:33 PM
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

So what you're supposed to work it off?

Don't do the crime if you aren't willing to pay the time?

I just don't get his logic?

This almost sounds like people who have revenge affairs.

Like somehow that makes it okay.
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post #13 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-23-2013, 03:08 PM
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

My husband does this when he's upset - his knee-jerk reaction is that I have to do some ultimate sacrifice to prove myself again.

I think if you can calmly point out to him what's going on (that you've been putting your fun money towards the debt, that adding another job is unrealistic for x reasons, etc.) he'll come around.

He's upset right now. Give him a couple of days and re-approach.
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post #14 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-24-2013, 09:20 AM
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

Your husband is acting like a judge that is handing down a sentence for your "crime" of hiding debt from him. You have done everything right to atone for your sin of lying. You have cut up the credit cards, you are careful with your spending, got a better job, apologized & learned your lesson so as not to repeat.

You need to learn to stand up for yourself. He can't force you to get another job. I think you are somewhat afraid of him. I suggest marriage counseling to resolve this issue.
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post #15 of 33 (permalink) Old 08-24-2013, 10:25 AM
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Re: I made a mistake and I feel husband is "punishing" me.

I think you need to sit down and talk about the consequences of you getting another job: he will have to do more around house and your health. Judge his reaction to this talk. If the health consequences don't matter to him that is a huge issue IMO. You state that you have health problems that you are currently able to manage, but an additional job will make that difficult. Talk to him about that and see if he gives a crap. Also talk about how you are making sacrifices, giving up fun money, to make amends.

He kind of sounds like a dad trying to make a point. Does he make you feel like a child in other areas of your relationship?
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