Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason? - Page 2 - 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 #16 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 02:09 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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Who makes/made most of the money?
Me.

Before we met, she'd had a number of minimum wage jobs - we were both 40. She had savings, an impressive amount considering her low income.

My world was astronomical to her..not my lifestyle, I was as simple as her, but when she got exposed to my salary and level of investments, she struggled to grasp it. Mind you, I'm no Warren Buffet, just an ordinary high-tech flunkie who avoided burning all the money on BMWs and gaming computers. But to her, it was huge.

Along the way, I managed my 401ks, doing various techniques to earn a lot higher than market returns...at some point, she asked and I told her what I did and she reacted in sheer terror that I would "lose it all". I pointed out that the market had never gone to zero overnight, in fact it's never gone down more than 20% overnight, so there's no risk of losing it all and was surprised that this didn't satisfy her.

But, since these were not her accounts and she could not access them, I continued to multiply them.

Sometime last year, she looked at her accounts and noted that the balances were about the same as 15 years ago, following her philosophy of buy and hold. Then she looked at my accounts.

It was a major revelation to me that she said "I have to admit, you did well, and I know you've have happily advised me, and based on what you've said, I know that you had controls in place to avoid a big loss. But my heart would be torn to bits thinking there was even a risk of losing 20%". I get that - it's possible to know what the right thing is but be emotionally unable.

So, does some of her fear come from knowing that the bulk of the money is mine and somehow she fears I want to control it? That's another part of why I eagerly allowed her to take over the family financials, and also why I'd encourage her to keep most of the money as it flows in.

Best I know, she has no childhood tragedy, no physical punishment, the family was never homeless or at risk, the kids went to expensive private school, and so on. She's never been in a car accident until very recently, never been held up at gunpoint, etc. So, as far as I can tell, this is just a belief, not grounded in any experience.

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post #17 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 02:23 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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post #18 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 02:28 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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Our counselor, in the private sessions with me, has advised me to check into how to get along with people with unusually high fears. It's also known as "catastrophizing". Fear-based people actually come across as very nice, because they carefully choose words to avoid upsetting people, and they never want to rock the boat. So, she's actually very sweet.

However, the level of fear she has seems to hinder any actual "living" because she can't go anywhere, etc. She claims she's happy that I'm in a band, but in the years I've been in this band, she has NEVER come to a performance! Wants me to record them so she can hear them later.

I brought up the subject with her once and said I wonder if it's possible to consider being less fearful and she claimed it's what's kept her alive and the world would be much better if more people were like her instead of being so goal-focused all the time.

The counselor attempted to address the issue, and my wife refused to see the counselor again for months....so it's not a topic she's willing to consider.
I think the problem is your wife, not how the money is handled or how many bank accounts you have. You can divide up the money into his/hers/ours accounts and she will still be fearful.

You said she thinks these fears keep her alive, she is afraid to go out and do things, she is afraid of being poor and obsesses about money when there is no reason to worry. Added up, it sounds like she really does need to see a psychiatrist.

Can you make her go? No. Can you encourage her to go? Yes, but it may not do much good. Can you tell her that you are willing to end the marriage if she doesn't seek help? Yes, but is that a hill you're willing to die on? Because if you say it, you have to mean it.

Just as an aside, be aware that these kinds of issues tend to worsen with age. It is possible she will become more and more fearful as time passes.
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post #19 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 02:46 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

Dusty, how much of what you have was yours before you got married? If you've kept it segregated in only your name, it is yours alone, not marital property. I strongly suggest you do not mix it into marital property in the future. You may be tempted to do so in order to calm her down, but as someone said above the problem isn't the money (nor is it the numbers on the screen), the problem is your wife's irrational fear.

I think you should see a therapist or counselor for guidance on how to deal with your wife. Perhaps your marriage counselor is the right person because he/she already knows both of you. On the other hand, they are not your individual counselor and won't keep secrets from your wife. I think a different counselor is probably your best bet, someone who deals with anxiety disorders.

The reason to do this is that our gut feel may not be correct in how to handle your wife. Some professional guidance may be better.

Having said that, my take is you should establish boundaries with her. No, you're not going to spend 15 hours per month reviewing finances. Period. She can do so if she wants, but you are not going to. Second boundary is that you are not going to let her hound you about spending. There is an agreed upon spending limit, which you are already within. End of discussion. If she wants to change the spending limit, then that is a fair topic to bring up and discuss. But as long as you are within the agreed upon limits there is not going to be discussion about "spending problems".

Setting up separate accounts might seem to be the answer but I bet it makes things wrong. She'll get ever more anxious because things will be less visible and less under her control. Even though you would be limited to small amounts of money, the problem is not the money it is her anxiety.

I also think you need to discuss with her about seeking evaluation and possibly meds. This is another area where a qualified Psychologist can be of great help in guiding you.
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post #20 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 03:02 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

We have separate bank accounts and checking accounts. If it weren't for that we'd be broke. She spends until there is no more money to spend. I had to take the bull by the horns and make my own account where I began depositing all my checks and stop all of our joint credit cards. She drained our joint accounts dry in a few weeks and was pissed. I didn't care, all of the sudden our credit history was fixed and we were actually saving money for the first time. I am very upset that I can never count on her to do her share financially but at least this way we can survive financially and her spending can be controlled somewhat to all that she makes.

It's funny I told her before we were married that I would never be able to handle all the expenses by myself. I guess that didn't matter at all to her, that all a bunch of bull****.

"I've paid double for every transgression I've ever made and that motel and that boat are little to ask for"
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post #21 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 03:08 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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post #22 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 03:19 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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Originally Posted by DustyDog View Post
Me.
way, I managed my 401ks, doing various techniques to earn a lot higher than market returns...at some point, she asked and I told her what I did and she reacted in sheer terror that I would "lose it all". I pointed out that the market had never gone to zero overnight, in fact it's never gone down more than 20% overnight, so there's no risk of losing it all and was surprised that this didn't satisfy her.

But, since these were not her accounts and she could not access them, I continued to multiply them.

Sometime last year, she looked at her accounts and noted that the balances were about the same as 15 years ago, following her philosophy of buy and hold. Then she looked at my accounts.

It was a major revelation to me that she said "I have to admit, you did well, and I know you've have happily advised me, and based on what you've said, I know that you had controls in place to avoid a big loss. But my heart would be torn to bits thinking there was even a risk of losing 20%". I get that - it's possible to know what the right thing is but be emotionally unable.

So, does some of her fear come from knowing that the bulk of the money is mine and somehow she fears I want to control it? That's another part of why I eagerly allowed her to take over the family financials, and also why I'd encourage her to keep most of the money as it flows in.

Best I know, she has no childhood tragedy, no physical punishment, the family was never homeless or at risk, the kids went to expensive private school, and so on. She's never been in a car accident until very recently, never been held up at gunpoint, etc. So, as far as I can tell, this is just a belief, not grounded in any experience.
I think she feels like she has no control over your money. Which is why she has anxiety. She can't do anything with your investment and as such she feels like things are not adding up because of the lack of control. So, she has to watch everything carefully incase something happens, she can catch the "disaster" quickly before it gets out of hand.

Or, if she grew up poor and is worried about going back to that?

Also, I have to a ask, when is the last time you saw a credit report on yourself and her?

My H has a fear of losing it all. That's why he asked me not to tell him what I am doing because he is worried that I am going to lose all of our money. He is risk adverse. He likes his money in the bank earning .2% and I like to trade like a mad woman. But I am not as crazy as he thinks. I know my limits and I work with that. Because I don't want to lose everything.

Go visit a financial planner and maybe you should stop showing her your investment moves, so she feels more comforted. Just we are doing well honey.

Also, find out if she has any debts outstanding that you don't know about. And keep track of her spending habits. Maybe she needs to speak to a therapist to figure out why this is bothering her so much.
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post #23 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 03:38 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

I really didn't read everything. I just wanted you to think carefully about your proposal.
If you are driving with a crazy person, and they keep asking you if you made a wrong turn, even though you know you are going in the right direction, Do you, out of sheer frustration, stop the car and let them drive? (sadly, I've done exactly that)

I would propose that you give her proof of stability in the form of no debt and safe money for a reasonable lifestyle for your expected life. I'm really not sure that would calm her fears, but I cant think of another reassurance that you haven't already given. Worry is her hobby.
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post #24 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 03:41 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

Do you love her? She sounds crazy and would make me want to kill myself. I'd divorce her, but that's me. I don't put up with B.S. anymore, life is too short!

Are you alpha or beta? Does she run the house?
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post #25 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 03:57 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

" Then I ask her how she knows we're spending too much and she changes the subject. She won't show me bank statements, she won't list for me what the spending target was supposed to be (without a target, how do you know you missed it) she won't show me the software. I have access to all the accounts and software, but what I don't know is what she claimed the spending limits should have been. She seems utterly in despair unless she sees evidence that I spend 10-15 hours once a month looking at the software - but then when I say it looks fine to me, she says "You missed something"."

This is the crux of the problem. She has a generalized fear that she can't pinpoint. You can't solve a problem couched in generalities. You need specifics. You need to insist on those bank statements.

My guess is she is not that savvy with finances and fears she has made an error. She wants you to fix it without confessing. You can't do anything until you get up to speed with the finances. It's as if the two of you will be reduced to eating cat food and living under an over-pass. Maybe it's time you take control of the finances. What she is doing is emotionally abusive.

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post #26 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 04:18 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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See, I prefer to do the pro rata approach. If I make more then my W, it means I contribute more to the budget / house. Of course, it will also depend on how much more one makes over another, but I don't think it necessary for each to get the same exact amount. Of course, everyone will differ.
If you're working and making $200,000 / year, she's a SAHM and works part-time making $20,000 / year and your house hold expenses add up to 90% of your combined income:

You get $20,000 a year to spend and she gets $2,000?

That doesn't sound right.

My wife and I have had a joint account since the day we got married. If either of us wants to makes a significant purchase, we talk it over together.
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post #27 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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Has anything happened in your lives that may have caused her to feel unsafe? Infidelity, illness, a death in the family, the crazy things going on in the country, etc. can make a person feel unsafe in general. Does she have any friends or hobbies to take her mind off things? How long has she been fearful?
Great question and one I've pondered and has come up in counseling.

In the marriage, no infidelity of any kind. In fact, we've weathered some storms amazingly well. The dot-comm bust in 2000 while we were living right in the middle of it cut our income back by 70%, yet we kept up mortgage payments and maintained a maximum contribution to 401k plans. My employer was slashing divisions and jobs, and I became very fleet-footed in switching from department to department as I could see which businesses were going to be kept. I stayed there while they reduced from 30,000 headcount to 2500. This was done partly so that she could finish a college degree. Once she was done with the degree, with her agreement I used my connections to those who'd been laid off to find a growing tech company, which moved us out of California, something we both wanted. There are a few other survival stories, but at no time had we been late on a bill, etc and never had debt except for a mortgage.

Neither of us has had serious health issues. No deaths in the family, no drug peddling, DUIs, none of that, at least since our marriage.

She lost her dad in her teen years, which was a trauma for the whole family, of course, but we didn't meet until 25 or so years later.

She has only a few friends...she tends only to get close to people who have similar strong fears. Some are left-leaning and certain that the corporations are trying to kill us, and some are right-leaning, certain that the government is trying to smother us, and others are none of the above and certain that the entire world is out to get them.

She doesn't really have hobbies, unless you count dog rescue...she seems to "need" there to be something around whose entire life depends on her, so we always have a few sickly puppies that need constant care.

She is convinced 99% of food is bad for you, so she insists on doing all the grocery shopping and cooking, which is utterly simple in our household, and also does the dishes and laundry due to concerns over sanitation. I do all the other housework, which I'm pleased to do. We have never argued about housework.

Now that I'm hearing her express things to a counselor, I think she's made all her decisions from a fear-based perspective her entire life. She has a younger sister to whom she had to play Mom after Dad died, and that sister is the same, or maybe stronger. But the other 4 siblings are all bolder and apparently not fear-driven.

So, I don't see a genuine event in life that should induce the fear, but I suppose it could be the loss of Dad all those years back. And yes, it seems to have gotten stronger with time.
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post #28 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 06:49 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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The reason I asked is (I'm in the minority), it's mostly YOUR money.

That you lovingly share with her is wonderful.

But she doesn't need to help you---you're doing just fine.

She didn't earn it, you did. You didn't marry until 40 (so you don't have kids together???----what's the bit about private schools; the people in her family went to private schools?? )

When you marry someone much wealthier than you, that's a step up for you. But a marriage license doesn't entitle you to freak out and control someone else's money.

I wonder if this worrywart behavior is a way to get you to mix all your money with her??? Don't do it.

If I was you, I'd be tempted to tell her to butt out. I mean, did she work to put you through school? Did she work and contribute her paycheck to helping you start a business? It's no on both counts, right.

And, making more money does entitle you to having more spending money. That's how making more money works. She's not your mom.
I disagree on many of your points. When you get married, that is exactly an agreement to mingle everything - it's even in the law. Marital money is marital money. Matters not whose name is on it.

In 43 states, including where we live, if you get divorced, the state almost demands that you split "marital property" 50/50. You can claim that you had X when going in and she had Y and you both get that back, but whatever growth happened during the marriage, you split 50/50.

Her family of origin had exactly the level of social status as I did - lower middle class. Her income went down when she joined the workforce herself, and she never saw a reason to ask for raises or add skills, so in 20 years, she didn't increase earnings much. It just didn't occur to her. I think she didn't realize how much less she earned due to lack of continued learning.

Yes, "we" are doing fine. And it doesn't bother me that she's bothered - this is about me regaining control over my time. I have no fears about her controlling the money - she certainly isn't going to be a Big Spender, ever...and I'll be checking balances every quarter anyway...I do our taxes, so I have to.
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post #29 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 06:56 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

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I think the problem is your wife, not how the money is handled or how many bank accounts you have. You can divide up the money into his/hers/ours accounts and she will still be fearful.
And I think that's OK. I'm not trying to reduce her fears - I'm trying to remove myself from having to spend time dealing with the money. Her emotions are her emotions. Mine are mine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJJEAN View Post

You said she thinks these fears keep her alive, she is afraid to go out and do things, she is afraid of being poor and obsesses about money when there is no reason to worry. Added up, it sounds like she really does need to see a psychiatrist.

Can you make her go? No. Can you encourage her to go? Yes, but it may not do much good. Can you tell her that you are willing to end the marriage if she doesn't seek help? Yes, but is that a hill you're willing to die on? Because if you say it, you have to mean it.

Just as an aside, be aware that these kinds of issues tend to worsen with age. It is possible she will become more and more fearful as time passes.
As I mentioned, we see a counselor, and I think the counselor sees all that, and is attempting to carefully touch on the subject but if the counselor moves too fast, my wife is likely to never return to the sessions.

I understand that I have the option to split us up. I'm giving it 6-10 more months. I will be satisfied if she acknowledges that she has the fear, not me, therefore it's inappropriate to ask me to fix her feelings. For details on this concept, do a web search on the phrase "Your business, my business and God's business", it's a concept in psychology that separates who has what feelings and what role you have in creating/changing things in hopes that you'll change someone's feelings.

I have no delusions that her fears will subside. So, my objective is only that she recognizes that nothing I can do will ease her fears, therefore it's unreasonable to ask me to spend this amount of time attempting to do so, and she can release me from this expectation without feeling cast adrift...and hopefully she'll feel empowered to pursue her own solutions.

Fear-based people are exactly the people who want to control everything because they fear what happens if control is lost...so, I have no doubt that if I cut her off from controlling the funds, it'll go badly.

Someone mentioned control of the 401k stuff...401k accounts, by definition are personal. It is extremely rare that a 401k custodian will allow your spouse access, unless you've been declared physically or mentally incapable.

I've actually ceased my active management of the 401k anyway...it's achieved what it needed and I don't want to keep doing that. It was never enjoyable, it was just something I figured I should do during the wealth-building years.
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post #30 of 54 (permalink) Old 07-12-2016, 06:58 PM
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Re: Splitting bank accounts for an unusual reason?

Sounds more like a mental health issue than anything else.
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