Ultimatum for financially irresponsible wife

Aug 27 101 Comments

I make $130k and my wife makes $45k. She spends money like its going out of style. Money is the biggest problem in our marriage, but there are lots of problems. We get in big fights because I’m “over the top cheap,” but whatever I dont spend, she spends, so it’s impossible to save any money unless I hide it from her. I can’t have a reasonable conversation with her. I AM pretty cheap only because I’m trying to offset her wastefulness, but it doesnt work. I just end up depriving myself of enjoying what I work very hard for.

I’m prepared to give her an ultimatum when the next money fight happens, which could be as soon as tonight, or a week from now. Our mortgage comes out in a week and we will overdraft, unless I transfer funds from our savings (where there’s only $2k anyway), or if she realizes and brings it up first (which will befin the fight). By the way we have $4k in credit card debt that was accumulated this calendar year. Anyway, I am going to let overdraft happen to teach her a lesson. I’ve exhauseted all other avenues. She won’t learn though, what it’s really going to do is spark the fight where I give the ultimatum. Basically, I am in charge of the money, and/or we keep seperate accounts. She’s quite manipulative so this will blow up. I will tell her she has a few minutes to come to terms with it and agree, or I’m done. She will accuse, attack, guilt, and belittle to get whag she wants, and I hole I don’t give in. I live her very much and I need her to be okay, she depends on me heavily.

Has anyone else been in a similar sutuation? Any advice?

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TOP 101 Comments
  • Facebook ⭕w⭕
    Ultimatums never end well in a relationship.
    Aug 27 2
    • New qdvF37
      They sure do end relationships well, though!
      Aug 27
    • OP
      I expect that it will end the marriage. I fully accept that end result if she is not willing. It’s not manipulation, it’s truly what I require to try to work it out.
      Aug 27
  • Orion / Cust. Srv. 🌹♟🗡
    I mean it sounds like this relationship is fucked. Like you can’t make reasonable agreements. Maybe you are cheap, but in that case you need to be with someone else who’s cheap. Money compatibility, along with sexual compatibility are two of the most important things in a relationship.
    Aug 27 6
    • Orion / Cust. Srv. 🌹♟🗡
      I mean money is like a very important expression of values. I’m not cheap, and I like to buy things, and it would be difficult for me to be with someone who was like either radically into acquiring debt or a skinflint.
      Aug 27
    • OP
      Completely agree. It’s like when you have a coworker that you share responsibilities, and the more you do the less he does. Every dollar I save is a dollar she spends, and she doesn’t appreciate it. I would be a normal spender if she was a normal spender, but she’s not. She can call me cheap, OR she can refuse to take responsibility for blowing through the money, but she can’t do both, they are mutually exclusive.
      Aug 27
    • Micron / Finance muun
      It's possible that you can find some middle ground. I'd try a therapist. I think people can change money habits - I certainly hear many people on Dave Ramsey that have done so. You need to approach it the correct way though.
      Aug 27
    • Orion / Cust. Srv. 🌹♟🗡
      I mean the question is if you can agree to a budget- like she can have x dollars for discretionary spending and that’s it. If you can make a reasonable agreement then yr good, if she insists on the right to spend all the money however then you can’t make a deal.
      Aug 27
    • NVIDIA uUwG82
      I agree with Orion here. It worked in our relationship. When you budget the spending, it brings some perspective on the spending. My wife and I agreed on her monthly budget of $100 or yearly $1200. This figure helped her see it as significant money. It is not an easy fix, you may need to put in some work to discuss and agree on a budget. Patience is the key to get your point across.
      Aug 27
  • Amazon / Eng SmkWdEvyDy
    Just divorce her. An ultimatum is just wimping out and making her 'choose' to end it.

    That or get counseling together. It sounds like separate accounts would be ideal
    Aug 27 1
    • OP
      If we could fix this, I’m willing to try. I’m not just trying to make it her decision. But I honestly don’t think we can fix this. She has refused to do couples counseling with me, I’ve asked many times
      Aug 27
  • Kaspersky Lab / HR
    mayfair

    Kaspersky Lab HR

    PRE
    Heineken
    mayfairmore
    Option 1: go to couples therapy, she might realize that she has a problem, or you might realize that you’re cheap.
    Option 2: separate budgets, setup joint fund for housekeeping and mortgage and sign a postnup on it. Also, change your direct deposit to an account she doesn’t have an access to. This way you at least won’t end up broke in case of divorce.
    Aug 27 8
    • Kaspersky Lab / HR
      mayfair

      Kaspersky Lab HR

      PRE
      Heineken
      mayfairmore
      Basically, you need to be sounding board for her emotions about money, and when she is done, ask “what do you think?”.
      Aug 27
    • Kaspersky Lab / HR
      mayfair

      Kaspersky Lab HR

      PRE
      Heineken
      mayfairmore
      If you’re careful enough, you can bring her to choose one option and voila. That’s kinda manipulative, but in a good way
      Aug 27
    • Kaspersky Lab / HR
      mayfair

      Kaspersky Lab HR

      PRE
      Heineken
      mayfairmore
      Women often use shopping to fill the void inside, so if she has this problem, if you cut shopping at all, she may start drinking, or other stuff. So you might want to figure out the problem first.
      Aug 27
    • Kaspersky Lab / HR
      mayfair

      Kaspersky Lab HR

      PRE
      Heineken
      mayfairmore
      Sorry, I just read through the whole thread. It seems like she has a shopping addiction. It’s up to you to decide if you want to stay and help or if you want to divorce. Just imagine what you’d do if she was an alcoholic.
      Aug 27
    • Kaspersky Lab / HR
      mayfair

      Kaspersky Lab HR

      PRE
      Heineken
      mayfairmore
      If she has an addiction problem, she may start opening credit cards on your name if she knows your SSN.
      Aug 27
  • Microsoft tincans
    Sorry for you buddy. I think this is a fairly common problem when there is large income disparity between couples 😔
    Aug 27 5
    • OP
      You do understand the disparity is that the breadwinner doesn’t spend on himself, and the other one buys whatever they want. That should never make sense.
      Aug 27
    • Microsoft tincans
      Say what you will, but until the person earns the money they spend, they'll never understand it's importance.
      Aug 27
    • Microsoft kKLn55z
      I’m inclined to agree with this. Further, I’ve seen a few sad stories where people were successful and then main breadwinner stopped being that. It messed things up and in one case the guy couldn’t work again leaving them in quite the pickle.

      If I was getting married to someone with such a disparity now, I’d consider whether I can help them go to grad school, or something else to improve their income before dropping a down payment on a house.
      Aug 27
    • OP
      She had a cosmology school loan that she hadn’t made much of a dent on before me. I wanted to pay it off with out tax returns last year, and it was a BIG fight. She was like “let’s put ALL our money to bills and then not have any fun!” My thought was,
      - Then that Bill is done
      - Then that tax return doesn’t dwindle frivolously
      - Then if we split up, I was able to make her life better in some way.

      In the end I didn’t give in, and she begrudgingly paid it off. But she acts like I got to decide how to spend it and she didn’t have a say.

      Same thing happened this year when I wanted to take half of our tax return and pay off our credit card. It was a HUGE fight. I asked her “if not now then when, when do you plan on paying this debt???” and she never could give me an answer.
      Aug 28
    • Imperial College London / Strategy
      Struggler

      Imperial College London Strategy

      PRE
      Google
      Strugglermore
      Sir, you have more money than her, and you're a man. You're sounding like the wimp of fucking life. Exercise your dominion as man and fucking shut her YOUR MONEY cash flow . Let her destroy her 45k. Keep your 130k and prepare for your future... That's the sexist and militaristic way to do it. And if it creates a divorce, so be it. You sound better off...

      Alternatively, the strict 2019 way is to find an interesting set of financial literacy videos like PBS's 2Cents on YT and others like it and ask her to watch it with you. Make executive decisions and pay off debts without her knowing and split your account with her and teach her financial responsibility through personal responsibility. Maybe pay for the counselor to come to your home and speak to yall, and maybe as a guest first, so you trick her into it.

      Come on man, be creative!
      Aug 29
  • LinkedIn ugjM43
    Oh man. Just get divorced.
    Aug 27 0
  • Amazon ChivalryAF
    Don’t take this the wrong way but the relationship is over. Dump her ASAP and move on quickly. There is nothing that will change her and nothing can salvage it long term.

    It’s completely done.
    Aug 27 7
    • OP
      We’ve only been married for two years, she’s not gonna get alimony, and I will GIVE her half the house. We bought the house three years ago and it has gained about $50 in value. I never would’ve bought that house if it wasn’t for her, so I will gladly part with half of that.
      Aug 27
    • OP
      Also, our anniversary is in five days...
      Aug 27
    • Kaspersky Lab / HR
      mayfair

      Kaspersky Lab HR

      PRE
      Heineken
      mayfairmore
      Ok, AZ_husband, trick question - is sex still good?
      Aug 27
    • Amazon ChivalryAF
      I’m sorry you’re going through this and I truly emphasize as I was in the same situation years ago. I ultimately had to end the relationship after trying counseling and other things.
      Aug 27
    • OP
      Yes, sex is still good. No complaints, we’re both happy there.
      Aug 28
  • E*Trade / Finance cbEV72
    Is everybody Indian in this thread?
    Aug 27 5
    • SAP PXkM70
      Indian checking in
      Single and will forever remain that way because marriage is bank account rape
      Aug 27
    • Apple
      TWB-tWBu16

      Apple

      BIO
      I’m a software engineer. Right now my job is focused on full stack web dev but I love everything related to tech
      TWB-tWBu16more
      Marriage is only bad if you don’t get a prenup or if you suck at picking a wife/husband
      Aug 27
    • OP
      I’ve said for years that I never wanted to get married. But I found the right woman, until I found out she wasn’t. Honestly, no harm no foul. Lesson learned.
      Aug 27
    • SAP PXkM70
      There are ways to get around prenup
      Aug 27
    • SAP PXkM70
      And like OP sometimes you won’t find out the ya re shot until years later
      Aug 27
  • Salesforce ldkIKnfll
    Are both of your pays going into the joint account?
    Aug 27 3
    • OP
      Yes. There is no distinguishing our finances
      Aug 27
    • VMware systemic
      And herein lies the problem. You can take care of all the joint expenses if you're feeling generous, but no way should you pool money with someone who is fiscally irresponsible.
      Aug 27
    • Atlassian / Eng
      Luffy, M.D

      Atlassian Eng

      PRE
      Facebook
      BIO
      A prematurely grumpy somewhat old man
      Luffy, M.Dmore
      This. Married 20+ years, finances always separate. Works for us.
      Aug 29
  • Google / Eng batmobile
    This beyond saving at this point, you probably already know this...
    Aug 27 0
  • Microsoft F1NANCEBO1
    Have you tried seeing a therapist? This sounds like it may be beyond just the two of you.
    Aug 27 4
    • Micron / Finance muun
      Agree. Therapist is a better idea than an ultimatum.
      Aug 27
    • OP
      I have seen a therapist on my own. She refuses to do couples counseling. She says she will go on her own, but she has not made an appointment, and when I ask about it she gets pissed off.
      Aug 27
    • Micron / Finance muun
      Sounds like there are definitely issues. What does your therapist think of the ultimatum? The way you deliver it will really make a difference in whether there's any chance of acceptance or change in behavior. I think efforts should be focused on couples counseling rather than making her spend less initially.
      Aug 27
    • OP
      I haven’t seen the therapist in a year. Tried to get in with her last week to discuss this stuff but she moved states, and does not do remote sessions.
      Aug 28
  • Amazon / Product jccvvg
    How come you even saved for a down payment with that? Things do not tie up. Suggest a budget. Being cheap is not a solution. Seems you are not that good with managing money as well
    Aug 27 4
    • OP
      I hear you. I promise I am good with managing money. Anytime I suggest not spending my money on something it becomes an argument, and I have chosen to give in for the last four years. I understand that’s my fault, and I take responsibility for that. I’m just done doing it.
      Aug 27
    • OP
      We have a beautiful new house, and the down payment came from my savings plus a loan that I took out on my paid-off Lexus. For what it’s worth, we bought it before we were married and she is not on loan or title. I’m fully willing to give her half the equity, minus the down payment that was mine. I have confirmed that legally that’s more than she has a right to.
      Aug 27
    • Intel D’s🥜
      ^Yuck dude, don’t miss a mortgage payment!
      Aug 29
    • Amazon / Product jccvvg
      Ok. That’s gives more of the perspective. Have you tried going to a marriage counselor / send her to a personal one. For mortgage, create a separate bank account where both of you send a direct deposit for the $ to down payment and then use this account only for this. At least this way you have those money there.

      For cc transfer balance if you have not done so yet.

      4K is not that much - side gig to cover?
      Aug 30
  • New / IT xizX84j
    OP, instead of giving an ultimatum propose something like the following.... Start by acknowledging that there are some money problems in the house, and it's nobody's fault (!) but there needs to be fixed. Tell her that you'll open 2 new accounts for each of you to have a monthly stipend of X (Lets say 1k) and that the rest will stay on the shared account to pay the bills and whatnot... That asides from that you need to cut expenses, that you should both make a list of where to cut because you're going to overdraft etc etc and you'd much rather still have a house. Let her lead the talk about where to cut and make sure its relevant what's being saved.... Agree to revisit the list in 2 months to see how things are going. Pay everything with your joint account and send the excedent to some form of savings. Start saving. Have a happy life. The end.
    Aug 27 3
    • Kaiser Permanente vllgindian
      While it’s a nice approach in theory, I’m from a school where this isn’t negotiable in marriage. Everyone’s an adult and no one in the relationship should have to make concession on the most black & white issue such as money responsibility
      Aug 27
    • New / IT xizX84j
      It's not realistic to expect everyone to be good at managing money. It's more realistic to expect the opposite tbh. Marriage (this one or the next one based out your comments around the post) is always about understanding each partners strengths and weaknesses.... Meaning you can divorce now, it'll bite you next time again. At least to a beta test here and learn for the next one
      Aug 27
    • Kaiser Permanente vllgindian
      No I don’t mean like investing or some sort of advance money management. Im talking about the simple “don’t spend more than u make” concept. It’s absolutely reasonable and realistic to expect adults to know and practice it, and this isn’t something to negotiate in a marriage. It’s not strength vs weakness or compromise at all.
      Aug 28
  • Uber / Eng TKOmelette
    She’s poor but probably thinks she deserves luxury in her life. She won’t change. You should have found this out earlier.
    Aug 27 2
    • OP
      Agreed. I honestly have no regrets. I will be getting out of it without a kid, which has been a sore spot for the last year. I really lose nothing from having been married and divorced.
      Aug 27
    • Uber / Eng TKOmelette
      Best of luck for your future. I came out of a similar relationship and I’m much happier.
      Aug 27
  • SAP PXkM70
    Why did you marry her when your TC is 3x hers? Don’t gimme that love bullshit
    Aug 27 1
    • OP
      My sisters husband makes the same as I do, we have the same job. My sister hasn’t worked for 11 years. I tell him all the time, you’re fucked if she ever leaves you.
      Aug 27
  • Kaiser Permanente vllgindian
    Dude, don’t ask, tell. Say uve made a decision to separate your finances. Route ur revenue to ur account, transfer an agreed upon amount to a joint account every month. Make sure she’s on the hook for her part.
    Aug 27 1
    • OP
      Agreed. It won’t be a request. It will be “this is what needs to happen or I’m done.”
      Aug 27
  • This comment was deleted by original commenter.

    • Kaspersky Lab / HR
      mayfair

      Kaspersky Lab HR

      PRE
      Heineken
      mayfairmore
      She will probably find another dude
      Aug 27
    • Kaspersky Lab / HR
      mayfair

      Kaspersky Lab HR

      PRE
      Heineken
      mayfairmore
      We don’t know how attractive OP is, what if he really is cheap on top of being not hot, and then he will not have another sex partner ever...
      Aug 27
    • Kaspersky Lab / HR
      mayfair

      Kaspersky Lab HR

      PRE
      Heineken
      mayfairmore
      But in this case if he divorces her being jobless he can sue for alimony and a house, and she will end up paying him until he finds another job. REVENGE!
      Aug 27
    • OP
      She is definitely the more attractive one. But I’m not concerned with that. I love her and I want her to be OK, best case scenario is that she finds another guy to help support her before too long, and that she learns from her mistakes.
      Aug 27
  • OP
    We were friends when she was married to her ex (albeit not GOOD friends), and she’s told stories of how careless he was, getting cash advances, etc, and she had to be the adult with money. It is clear to me that wasn’t the case, or it was GREATLY exaggerated. This is why I mentioned my income. Her ex made about 40k, I make $130k. So she claims she had to wrangle him when they made $80k, yet she can blow though $175k and STILL vilify me for being cheap? The denial is astounding, she’s living in the clouds.
    Aug 28 1
    • Amazon / Product jccvvg
      Lol or in her mind 130 was like millions and she though it will give her a lux lifestyle. And being exhausted in her previous marriage she just went on a spending spree. Let her reach or watch shopaholic
      Aug 30
  • BusPatrol Igpay2
    What about budgeting together and having weekly budget meetings? Does she understand exactly how much is coming in and out of the household?
    Aug 27 1
    • OP
      She does not know. She literally doesn’t know what our net monthly income is, or how much our regular bills cost, or how much money gets spent where. She just knows there’s money in the account, so we can afford it. She has full access to 100% of the info, but she just checks the balance. I’ve said I’m going to make a spreadsheet to sort everything out and she gets mad, and starts accusing me of “blaming her” for spending too much. And says it really bothers her that I think she’s not financially responsible. This is my fault for not doing it sooner. I wasn’t prepared to demand that we make changes, because she always manipulates the situation, but now I’m mentally/emotionally prepared to set the ground rules and enforce them.
      Aug 27
  • New / Other ASD0816
    My partner and I have always had separate accts. I make more, and so when we divided the bills, we took that into account. It works for us and I don't have to worry about anyone spending outside means.
    Aug 27 1
    • OP
      That’s what I did when we first got together, but we combined finances after living together for only three months. It was my suggestion to combine so she wouldn’t feel broke all the time. But then all of a sudden she’s high on the hog.
      Aug 27