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How to Rein in a Spendthrift Spouse

Jul 21, 2008
If you're married to someone who spends money unwisely, while you're trying to balance your financial situation and get or stay out of debt, you're in a difficult situation.

It's hard to move forward financially if your spouse is spending too much money. At the same time, it's often very hard to curb a spouse's spending, particularly if talking about money is difficult in your home.

If your bank statement constantly seems to have red ink on it, and you dread credit card bills coming in, it's time to look critically at what's going on. If you're not doing the majority of the spending, and especially if you don't know what most of the expenditures are, you and your spouse need to have a talk.

Your spouse may just enjoy spending, and a simple talk may be all it takes to remedy the situation. However, your spouse may be a compulsive spender. If he or she seems unable to stop spending, spends without knowing what they've bought later, or expresses an inability to control spending, there's a problem.

Fortunately, if your spouse has a compulsive spending problem, there are solutions. Your spouse will have to be willing to solve the problem, of course, but there are twelve step programs for compulsive spending, which work extremely well. Your spouse may have a compulsive disorder, which can be treated with medication. If your spouse is willing to do what it takes to overcome compulsive spending, a full recovery and normal life is possible.

While your spouse is overcoming the spending problem, or if your spouse is unable to overcome compulsive spending, you should take steps to remove temptation. Carry the checkbook, debit card and ATM card with you. Make sure your spouse has adequate spending cash. Larger purchases should go through you. Be willing to okay purchases that are reasonable, so that your spouse does not feel like a child. But you should retain control of finances.

Try to understand, especially if your spouse has a compulsive spending problem, that this situation is stressful for everyone. You may tend to focus on the stress you feel, trying to pay the mortgage when your spouse has spent the money. You are stressed, and that is important. But your spouse also finds life very stressful, and may become depressed and even desperate over the situation. While the tendency is to pull apart during a situation like this, it is essential that you and your spouse try to find a solution together.

You may find that seeing a therapist, together or separately, helps you communicate about the situation and identify solutions. Helping your spouse find a twelve step group, if this is necessary, can make things easier. You should also try to have a real conversation about what's going on. Listen to your spouse, and try to determine if he or she has a problem controlling spending, or just enjoys spending. If the latter, talk about ways to defuse the situation and find enjoyment in other ways.

Working with your spouse to try to fix the damage and restrain spending is the only way to really resolve this kind of problem.
About the Author
Read the blog http://www.zero-out-my-debt.com for the latest tips and information on debt reduction and debt elimination .
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