Divorce: Is it a promise or a threat?

NVME and Mr. NVME are a “happy” couple with three kids in suburbia. Nvme met the Mr and instantly fell in love with his gentle, honest and mature nature 7 years ago. NVME created a small problem for herself when she elevated MR.NVME to a level just below God and quietly kept to herself the feeling that maybe she didn’t deserve the guy. Fast forward to now where they have lived relatively drama free. The issue, you ask, is that the Mr. is very, very thrifty, a trait that NVME appreciated since she was a young Mother when she met him and he was happy to fill the role of attentive and providing Father. NVME is budgeted to within an inch of her life and is on an allowance worked out by the Mr. They carry only the debt of their mortgage.

The divorce issue comes after NVME, out with clients, withdraws $200 from a joint bank account at a casino here in Sin City. Eight-five dollars are actually spent and 2 days later the Mr. postpones the payout of allowance until the approximate $200 worth of time has elapsed.

NVME was advised this morning that she will not get money until the 25th of June and if it EVER happens again, the Mr will divorce her. This was repeated quiet solemnly and without bravado.

The Mr. asserts that he is thinking for their future retirement and the college expense of their three children.

What would your next move be after that announcement?

I’d get my ass to a marriage counselor pronto.

You have an allowance? What grade are you in?

I’m sorry, that was over the line. It just throws me for a loop sometimes that people are willing to give up that much control over their lives. I couldn’t live like that.

Anyways, there’s a difference between thrift and being cheap and controlling. And frankly, honey, it ain’t the cheap part that concerns me. I think you guys need to have a long, serious talk about whether this is his money, or your (plural your) money, and how it makes you feel to have to ask for and account for every single cent you spend.

Actually, since you were out with clients, I’m assuming you have a job and contribute to the household expenses. So if his money is his money, then I’d want to know why the hell your money isn’t your (singular your) money. And frankly, I’d quit giving him my entire paycheck if he’s going to be that controlling. Life is too long to spend like that.

I was going to wade in here and talk about my own situation, but…

For pete’s sake, Nvme77, I was darn sure YOU were going to be the one threatening divorce, not him. You’ve got a job and earn a paycheck and your husband puts you on an allowance? You’re entertaining business clients and your husband treats it as if you made a recklesss personal expense? You withdraw $115 and your husband acts like it’s grounds for divorce–even though you have “no debts” apart from your mortgage?

Snoopyfan is on the money: hie thee and he to a marriage counselor.

Joint counseling, NOW! To issue an ultimatum, and threaten divorce, over the incident seems more than a bit over the top. Especially if you have not done this before.

Money is reported to be one of the top 2 or 3 reasons for diviorce. The household allowance needs to be worked out by the two of you, not the Mr. alone. Notice I did not say your allowance.

All the following questions come to mind:
Do you contribute to the household income? Is nothing allowed outside of what is strictly budgeted for? Do you have to account for every penny spent? If this is a one time incident, would the withdrawal have a negative impact on your current financial situation, or realistically any effect on your future?

I wish you the best in whatever course you choose.

I really love him, very much so. But I earn more than he does because I wanted to move up in my career. He has a BS in MIS, and works in tech support because he is terrified of interviews. When we met he had his own business. He sold it to spend more time with our young family- Im 30 and he is 35. He was raised to save money and to really think over needs/wants. He paid his own way through college and that is what I admire so much. He is dedicated and responsible, far more than I am.

He has made some financial missteps that I have unfairly kept mental tabs on like investing in Worldcom 2 days before the big bust but for the first time in my life I actually have a savings account.

the thing I think about is - am I only worth $200? Is that the deal breaker amount?

thank you all for your input so far.

I don’t have a problem with the allowance thing per se. Why? Because some people are good at finances and others aren’t. What would be wrong with the one who’s good at it telling their spouse “Okay, I’ve figured up all the bills and stuff. Here is what we can blow this month. Here’s your half.” I’ve seen this work with couples because the one who isn’t good at doing the bills is handed the cash and they can do whatever they want to with their half of the mad money for the month.

CCL has some good points, though. It sounds as though the Mr. has a control issue where money is concerned.

One thing I wanna know is this: you say he’s thrifty. Is he cheap, or just thrifty? I think there’s a difference. Cheap people buy low-quality stuff that doesn’t last. Thrifty people seem to delay gratification and wait to make purchases, but when they do, they buy the best they can afford. In short, thrifty=good, cheap=bad.

Could there be a reason for his need to control money? Did he grow up really poor and always in need of basic things? He could be terrified of being broke and thus wants to squirrel away every extra penny. Are your jobs stable? Maybe he’s worried about a drop in income. Does he have a problem with gambling in general?

NVME, is the Mr. basically still the same nice guy you married? Is this the ONE area in which he’s totally unreasonable, or are there other problems? Is he prone to saying things he doesn’t mean (people say stupid stuff when they’re really pissed off)? I ask because I think everyone has an issue in which they’re a total dick about (I know I do).

I’m concerned for your 3 kids. One, a divorce would probably not be good for them, especially if everything else is going okay. Two, they are watching your attitude about money, and their dad’s. They need to see balance.

Could you tell us a bit more about how this whole allowance thing works? Are you two struggling to get by or are you fairly comfortable? Is he the one who figures up ALL the bills every month and oversees your savings? Do you hand over your paycheck to him? Could a compromise be reached (if you’re financially able) where YOU cash your own check and you keep out a certain percentage for your own use … set up your own savings account and the money can be used at your discretion? This would give you more control and the Mr. wouldn’t have to worry about you dipping into the other account. By the way … what is the purpose of this account that you dipped into? Is this THE main account or a special one? Does he have one in his name only in addition to the joint account with you or is this the only account the two of you have?

It sounds as if the Mr. is pretty good at handling the household finances given that your only debt is a mortgage … and you’re obviously saving for college AND retirement, something a lot of people can’t even begin to think of doing because of other bills. I don’t know him of course but I’m sensing that he’s afraid of something, be it being broke or not being able to retire comfortably or anything. If he’s got some kind of financial trauma in his past (maybe one of his parents robbed his piggy bank for drug money, hell I dunno) that might explain why he overreacted about this, maybe a “nobody is ever going to take my money away again,” or “nobody is gonna fuck up my retirement/my kid’s college” kinda thing.

As I said earlier, I strongly suggest counseling. If the Mr. is a generally reasonable guy, it sounds as though this can be worked out with some talking and a couple of minor changes.

Just MHO. IANAT(herapist), just a lowly psych major.

Oh, yeah, in trying to be diplomatic I forgot the most important part – the guy is a control Freak. Big time! Capital F!

Thank you Snoopy, and all, for your responses. My husband does believe in buying good quality-once we save for it. Our 7 year old knows if he wants Yu-gi-oh cards he has to save up his allowance earned from the grandparents restaurant. The money is from the main account, and I would have gotten it eventually this month but in small installments. there have been instances in the past where I really wanted more money sooner and would go in to the bank and make a withdrawal- I no longer have an atm card OR my drivers license because of this. We have stable jobs, we do not have gambling or drug problems- this is the only area in our life that we have ever raised our voices about. He grew up with parents that encouraged creativity and knowledge- and he got all his clothes from yard sales or hand me downs (youngest of six). He still refuses to buy a new pair of pants. He will hem and mend them if he needs to. He is funny smart and loving- yet like you said SnoopyFan, he has flipped his lid. My paycheck is direct deposited, he handles all the bills, I have no worries (I thought)about whether a bill gets paid or not- my allowance is for anything extra I want-I can take home lunch but If I see a cute pair of shoes or a cool book I need to save for it.

Sorry to go on and on- I love him but I want to slap him and really go off on him like I know I can for that “divorce” comment.

there have been instances in the past where I really wanted more money sooner and would go in to the bank and make a withdrawal- I no longer have an atm card OR my drivers license because of this.

Who took away the ATM card? Did you give it up, did he insist you give it up, or did the bank take it away for some reason? And what does your drivers license have to do with it?

The fact that he is the youngest of six might have something to do with this (altho, like I said earlier, IANAT). He’s the baby. He not only had 2 parents but also, potentially, 5 other “parents,” depending on the age differences among the siblings. If all or even some of his siblings were a lot older, that’s a lot of wagging fingers in his face telling him what to do all the time. The baby of the family is usually spoiled, yes, but bossed around a lot. This may be his way of fighting back a little, regaining some control he didn’t have growing up.

I’d be pissed about the divorce comment too although from what you’ve told me, I really don’t think he truly meant it. I’ll admit, in a pissed off state I’ve threatened it before (this was years ago and had nothing to do with money, was something else). Yes, I was stupid to say it, and it doesn’t justify it, but I was in a rage and I wanted to get the point across to my husband that I meant business about the issue at hand. Your Mr. may have just been blowing off steam and/or trying to “shock” you a bit to reiterate how unacceptable he found your behavior to be. A stupid way to do it, sure, but he wasn’t thinking.

Have a talk!

Thanks for your advice- without a doubt having a talk tonight before I pack, ha ha. The atm card was given up to him after he asked for it. The drivers license was confiscated when he found out I could make withdrawals with ID.

Thanks everyone- NVME77

Don’t you need to have your driver’s license on you in case you’re in a car accident?

And if you have no ATM and no driver’s license, how did you get money out of the account in Vegas?

Excuse me, but…WTF? Your husband took away your drivers’ license as some sort of punishment?

I agree with peri–this sounds like “control Freak” behavior to me.

Good luck.

I have to admit I do find your story a bit difficult to believe, especially the part about you giving up your drivers license. The level of passivity required for an adult woman to acquise to this absurd demand beggars the imagination. However, assuming your story is true it is evident that despite whatever his good traits are, your husband has some pathological, nigh mortal fear of wasting and/or spending money. The way you describe it seems unlikely he will change. Ultimately you need to decide if you can live like this. Most adult women I know could not and would not.

In the macro view this is a very typical sad story of an insecure young woman seeking an “in charge” provider type man and marries a latent control freak Prince Charming. Things go great until young woman matures and gets less uncertain and more assertive which causes control freak to get ever more panicky, controlling and insecure etc. etc. rinse and repeat.

Oddly in these scenarios, although it’s the control freak who is “wrong” in terms of what is considered normal, acceptable behavior, from an ethical standpoint its the maturing women who is really “beaking the deal” they had at the outset regarding he way their roles were originally defined.

It is highly unlikely he can change or get better. You had best gird yourself for the marital divorce struggle ahead.

You know, if this were a movie, the scary music would start about now. He’s really got you under his thumb, financially. Please get yourself to a marriage counselor, even if he doesn’t want to go, go alone because this is not a good situation.

I second the Snoopyfan question - how’d you get the money for the Casino?

I’m still not clear on how the two of you manage your money. If you sat down and agreed on a plan, and your allowance is part of that plan, then bravo. (I have freaking fits thinking about how much unaccounted for money my SO spends.)

Let me put on my Devil’s Advocate Hat and ask if, up to this divorce comment, you were basically happy with the family financial plan. If so, then I’d take the threat as him blowing off steam on go on with your life.

This idea of “instances in the past where I really wanted more money sooner and would go in to the bank and make a withdrawal” is a red flag. And so is the driver license. It’s hard to form a clear picture with only a few alarming details. I could connect dots to create an image of him as a hateful control freak who, fearful of outsiders, takes all his frustration out on you. Or, I could connect the dots to show you as a former single mom who, despite the best efforts of a good man, continues to be financially irresponsible and, despite repeated warnings about going over budget, took the grocery money to a casino.

I’m sure the reality is that you’re a perfectly nice, ordinary couple.

By all means tell him you’re upset by his use of the D word.

:mad: Dear Og! NVme77, your husband has NO right to your credit cards, debit cards or your driver’s license! He also has NO right to treat you like a child whom he may punish.

When you got married, all of your assets and possesions became the property of BOTH OF YOU. 50/50. No exceptions.

If you are working, you have earned that money. He has no justification for keeping it from you. Even if you were not working, 1/2 of the money in the bank belongs to you.

d_redguy and I have given each other veto power on major purchases and impulse purchases during times of financial strain. The former is a right frequently asserted by both of us. (As in “No, d_redguy, you may not buy another computer. We have three and you do not need another one right now.” and “No, hyperjes, you may not have a pony. We have no room for a pony and wouldn’t know what to do with one anyway.”) The latter is only used occasionally- the week rent is due, for instance.

I earn considerably less than he does, yet I am no less entitled to my half of everything. Marriage is about equal partnership, not dictatorship. I think his controlling behavior is appalling and abusive. Get to a proffessional for help. If he won’t go, go yourself. If things don’t improve, get out. I’m sure that you deserve better.

I had the atm card with me that night because he forgot to get money out to give to me and he let me take it to get cash out. When I go on business trips I have to get my drivers license back so I can get my boarding pass.

A friend from work who knows our financial arrangement has expressed her pity and it would almost be welcome if it weren’t for the fact she is now filing for bankruptcy due to 65k in credit card debt.

I don’t think he intends to be mean- but I think he has a perverse sense of seeing just how frugal he can be. I’ve heard of people with tons of money cutting coupons,eating soup, reusing tea bags- something Howard Hughes would have done.

Astro- I wish this was pretend.

I don’t know enough about Mr.NVME to give an answer, but the whole “allowance” thing definitely gives me the heebie-jeebies.

I mean, I’m the one “in charge” of the money in my marriage, but that just means I write the checks and visit the ATM and make the deposits and handle all the mundane matters involved. I generally make sure my wife has around $40 spending money at all times, but she’s also got a Visa with her name on it, and I encourage her to use it whenever she needs to make a purchase that cash won’t cover. We’re both reasonably frugal, and we trust each other not to do anything crazy – and I think that trust is what MrNVME isn’t giving you.

The idea of budgeting a spouse to the penny is creepy. Toss in the “postponement of allowance” and general threat-issuing, and it’s creepy as hell. IMO, anyway.

How much of an issue is it that you make more money than he does?
Has his behavior towards controlling the money become more apparent and intense since you started making more money or is this something that’s been happenning all along. Has your attitude changed towards your joint finances since you started making more money?

We could do this with puppets, too, if you’d like. :smiley: