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And what about ME?

Old 12-28-2010, 10:52 AM
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And what about ME?

Gosh, I don't even know where to start.

My husband is a spending addict. He and I are both ACOAs. We started dating in high school, and twenty years later have 4 (going on 5) children. He's in recovery, and I'm pursing a second degree & going back to work to dig us out of the financial hole he's put us in. That puts him in charge of homeschooling the kids (our public schools are not an option - they're horrid) and doing housework while I study. I'm really trying to hold on to my marriage, but it's incredibly hard.

He's constantly, constantly stressed. Snaps at the kids, takes everything personally. I can't approach him with anything that could be remotely construed as criticism, because it starts a days-long argument. I start with, "I have this problem." He continues with, "I'm so sorry. It's my fault, I'm just stressed because of XYZ, I'm still learning how to cope. I have no coping mechanisms... (insert a bunch of stuff about how he feels the world is riding on his shoulders, how he's got a bunch of stress at work, he feels bad for putting me through the things he has, wants to be a better father and knows he's short with everyone, blah blah blah.)" It's always an opportunity for a pity party for him, where I'm supposed to feel bad that he has "issues" and cut him some slack, tell him it's okay, and reassure him.

Frankly, I'm tired of being the one-woman cheering section.

What about me? What about the fact that AFTER finishing my first degree and staying home with my children, planning a life around being a SAHM and homeschooling, I'm thrust back into college, pursing a second degree at age 36 - while pregnant- so that I can be the primary breadwinner? (His history leaves him few options for a career. He's a bartender.) How about the multiple times I've stood by him as he's screwed up (flunked out of school, been convicted of bank fraud and theft, etc.) I'm feeling rather resentful that there's plenty of room in our life for his problems, but that if I dare to have a problem, it's the end of the known universe. I'm angry, I'm hurt, and I have ZERO trust for him. But there's no room for that here.

His parting shot today? "Oh, and for the record, I never planned for any of this to happen." That's supposed to make it OKAY? That you just "oops!" accidentally stole from your employers in the past, that you "accidentally" ran up tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt? The fact that it wasn't PLANNED is supposed to make a $%&%$ difference in the outcome? Oh, well, that makes me feel LOADS better, that since you didn't PLAN this, now I feel better about pursing a completely new career, going back to full-time work, supporting the family, leaving my kids every day, being married to a ticking time-bomb of a human being who could go on a spending binge at any time. Yeah, that makes it alllll better.

There is support out there for spending addicts - they have meetings. There are no meeting for spouses. (Yes, I know about Al Anon.) We have no support system (both ACOAs, no family to speak of.) All the books I've managed to find are about financial management, not management of a spending addiction. (Think Dave Ramsey versus the Big Book. They're not quite written to the same audience, kwim?)

I am trying as hard as I know how to be a supportive spouse. I know that he's facing difficulty in curbing the urge to spend. I get it. Can I say I'm proud of him? No, not for doing what any responsible adult would do. I really don't feel like patting him on the back for behaving himself. I do listen to his problems, try to be sympathetic, but there's only so far I'm willing to go with that. Perhaps it's because I'm the child of two alcoholics, but I have very little sympathy for addicts. I'm behind my emotional armor, waiting for the next shoe to drop. There is a definite emotional distance - one that I don't think he's even aware exists. I'm angry that there is no outlet here for MY problems, the issues that I'M facing, changing my entire life to repair the damage he's done to us financially. I would love to go to marriage counseling, but there is NO MONEY for that - thanks to his spending. (Not to mention we'd have to find a sitter for four children. That's not cheap.)

So I guess that's it - I'm angry (and hurt) that I have an addict for a spouse, and no support to speak of. I'm tired of being the responsible one and getting nothing but grief for it.
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:52 AM
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I'm sorry you are having to deal with this, you DO need support. Your situation does sound very similar to that described by some spouses of recovering alcoholics. Perhaps give Alanon a try if there is nothing specific to your situation? Much behaviour in addiction seems similar regardless of what the substance or negative behaviour that a person is addicted to, and perhaps there are similarities in recovery too?

whether there is or not, you will find a group of people who understand your anger, and can give you an outlet and some physical support.

welcome to SR!
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:18 PM
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Maybe he meant he never meant to get caught.

My first ex always said a crime isn't a crime if you don't get caught.

he's in prison now, finally.
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Old 12-28-2010, 12:32 PM
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I can relate to the spending. Could it be OCD? That's part of my AW's problem. Lately, I've been digging in closets and finding weird stuff... like sacks full of men's cologne (which I don't use) and dozens of bottles of body wash, shampoo, etc. She's wasted thousands of dollars on diet supplements that just sit on the shelf and go out of date.

Sounds like you may be dealing with something similar. I can relate to your anger and frustration.
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Old 12-28-2010, 01:47 PM
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SarahG, you have every RIGHT to be frustrated, angry and resentful towards your husband. Do you still love your husband? Or are you just stuck in the relationship? Take a deep breath, relax, and get it off your chest.

I've been a member of SR since the 14th of November 2010 and you are at least the second spouse of a spending addict that has posted on SR. You wrote "There are no meeting for spouses. (Yes, I know about Al Anon.) We have no support system (both ACOAs, no family to speak of.) All the books I've managed to find are about financial management, not management of a spending addiction. (Think Dave Ramsey versus the Big Book. They're not quite written to the same audience, kwim?)" The other lady that posted concerning her spending addict husband, also, was complaining about the lack of support for the spouses of spending addicts. Someone, like you or her, should start a support group for the spouses of spending addicts. HINT! HINT! HINT!

The best effort I could find by surfing the web for support groups for spouses of spending addicts was https://www.wesabe.com/groups/9-payi...50-spouse-debt

"There is support out there for spending addicts - they have meetings." I would guess you are referring to the Debtors Anonymous Recovery Program. Debtors Anonymous - Recovery from Compulsive Debt The Program adopted the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous to deal with the disease of debting. Members of Debtors Anonymous are encouraged to keep specific records of the amount of money they make, spend, and owe to creditors. Members of the group are invited to attend meetings on a weekly basis. In addition, they are encouraged to participate in "pressure relief meetings". A pressure relief meeting is when a newer member meets with two more senior Debtors Anonymous members to review the new person's finances in detail. The more senior members can offer advice to the new person about his or her finances.

Please feel free to keep posting and reading SR. We're here for you!
Just my personal opinions. Take what you like and leave the rest.

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Old 12-28-2010, 03:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Phoenixthebird View Post
SarahG, you have every RIGHT to be frustrated, angry and resentful towards your husband. Do you still love your husband? Or are you just stuck in the relationship? Take a deep breath, relax, and get it off your chest.

I've been a member of SR since the 14th of November 2010 and you are at least the second spouse of a spending addict that has posted on SR. You wrote "There are no meeting for spouses. (Yes, I know about Al Anon.) We have no support system (both ACOAs, no family to speak of.) All the books I've managed to find are about financial management, not management of a spending addiction. (Think Dave Ramsey versus the Big Book. They're not quite written to the same audience, kwim?)" The other lady that posted concerning her spending addict husband, also, was complaining about the lack of support for the spouses of spending addicts. Someone, like you or her, should start a support group for the spouses of spending addicts. HINT! HINT! HINT!
Are you sure that wasn't me?
http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...lindsided.html

It'd be kinda a lonely meeting with just lil' ol' me.

Yes, he goes to DA meetings (he's at one right now.) And he has done a pressure relief meeting. We have a very strict budget (now that I'm in charge of it.)

I'll admit there are a lot of similarities between alcoholism and spending addiction, but there are some differences, too. Debting is a a bit tougher to spot as an addiction (at least it was for me.) With my parents, I could tell just by the way they moved if they'd had a drink. It's not quite as simple being able to tell if he's been spending - I can't exactly check his breath to see if it smells like credit cards. He doesn't accumulate things, either. He likes stopping for coffee or a new CD. Since he has hundreds of CDs, I really don't notice another one. The shame is different, too. People are very closed-mouth about money. It's just not something most people discuss in polite society.

No, he never intended to get caught - but we've talked about it, and he never really thought that far ahead. It wasn't a premeditated process, more of a compulsion to spend, temporarily filling a need to fit in. From what he's discussed of his spending, he discusses it more in terms of something that happened to him, rather than a course of action that he chose. (Denial, anyone?)

Do I love him? Good question. I can't honestly say. (That sounds so cold.) I'm so angry and hurt. I'm pretty numb to "positive" feelings - I don't trust them. I'm naturally pretty jaded, and being pregnant only makes me more cranky and negative. I know I want to save my marriage - we have four children, with #5 due in March. I have to be able to say I've put everything I could into making this work. Additionally, I can't financially make it on my own right now. There's no way I could get a job, pregnant. Is it my fear of abandonment that keeps me here? Maybe in part.

I know that any one of the things that he's done in our relationship would be a dealbreaker for a lot of people. So what keeps me here? Mostly the kids. He knows that if I wasn't pregnant right now he'd be out on his behind, as I've told him as much. But still he acts all lovey-dovey to me, wanting to kiss me, asking me if I love him (okay, more like trying to guilt me into saying the words, "I love you. Do you still love me, even though I'm so screwed up?" Why do you go there? What am I supposed to say to that?) acting like I'm some kind of power-tripping housefrau because I won't even bring up sex (yeah, you've financially ruined us, lied to me on and off for years, and I'm seven months pregnant. Not gonna happen.) let alone make an overtures in that direction.

I want to stand by him, for better or for worse. But until he gets his issues somewhat in line, I don't see that there's a whole lot of room for working on "us."
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Old 12-28-2010, 03:25 PM
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My A has a spending problem, as well. The guess is it links back to his childhood - he still resents his parents' "You can have a baseball glove or we'll take you to the circus, but not both" - while his father golfed every weekend and certainly had more than enough for his booze.

Nonetheless, I'm actually grateful he's in inpatient rehab for the drinking right now, partly because of all the money we're saving! Since he's been in, he was planning on spending about $1200 on various dinner and lunches and items for the apartment... Since I'm in charge of the finances, our total bill for that time frame has been $73, and half of that was a full tank of gas.

I don't really know what to do about his spending, but I do know that it has been stressing me out much longer than the alcohol has.
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Old 12-28-2010, 04:00 PM
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SarahG, I understand all to well your feelings when you wrote "I want to stand by him, for better or for worse. But until he gets his issues somewhat in line, I don't see that there's a whole lot of room for working on "us." It's through SR that I have finally accepted the fact that my dry drunk husband has been psychologically abusing me.

I grew up poor so I understand somewhat about financial problems. "I'll admit there are a lot of similarities between alcoholism and spending addiction, but there are some differences, too." I hope you check out the other link I provided to you. I think it's important for you to know you're NOT the only spouse whose dealing with spending addicts.

I suggest you do some research in your local area for free counseling. You should be able to locate free counseling for someone in your shoes, 7 months pregnant, with 4 children. Christian pastors or Catholic priests sometimes will provide free counseling. Another resource that might be able to help you is the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness - Mental Health Support, Education and Advocacy

Phoenix
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