My wife is spending us into bankruptcy

What you need to know:

Be it a phone, smart watch or tablet, among many others, she needs the latest version even if the one she had before still works perfectly

My wife of four years constantly forces me to buy her the latest electronic gadgets. Be it a phone, smart watch or tablet, among many others, she needs the latest version even if the one she had before still works perfectly. When I say I cannot afford that particular thing, then our home becomes a war zone. I have tried to make her understand that we cannot spend our money this way but even when I say no, she will withdraw money from our joint account and go on a shopping spree. At this rate, we will go bankrupt soon. Please help.            

Anonymous.

Dear Anonymous,

Marriage often means bringing together a number of things between a couple and this includes money. It can also mean the compacting of two debts and to some level, a mix of spending habits, both good and bad. The vow ‘for better or for worse’ is also a part of marriage and for you, this is it.

It can be worrying, but in the process, you are learning something important about your wife. Dealing with these differences is what will make two categorically different people stay together amicably.

Spending habits can be a telling sign of poor financial literacy or an underlying compulsion to spend by an individual. None of you needs to be an accountant, but rather, both need to be accountable to the other in terms of money and household finances.

Be upfront about expenses, and always communicate about big money decisions and the current state of your accounts.

By knowing how to help your spouse identify the source of their problems is crucial in helping them become better money managers. Developing a plan and following through with it by keeping up with your budget will help relieve the stress of having a spouse that spends recklessly.

The other way could be to have both a joint and single account. The joint one should be handled in a way that two signatories are needed before money is withdrawn.

This will help to check her spending since she will always need your signature to withdraw money. The single account enables one to have personal money to spend.

On the other hand, a compulsion to spend on expensive gadgets could be a sign of an underlying mental health issue.

The mere fact that she becomes angry when asked about her spending habits is a sign that as a couple, you might need external help. Finding a good counsellor who is knowledgeable in couple counseling and familiar with addictions might help you and your wife know how to cope with this behaviour and find support tailored for this purpose.

Reader advice

Talk to your wife

Peter Etiwills. There were signs while dating but you ignored and probably thought she would change. These are issues that you must have discussed before getting married and agreed on how to not only save but also spend your money. Sit down with your wife and tell her she cannot spend all your money. Tell her you need to invest for the future and for your children.

It’s what she knows

Jacob Kwesiga Gatasha. I will bring it back to the foundation of the marriage/relationship. This cannot be avoided if the whole relationship was built on financial impression. You must have showed off your riches, showering her with these expensive gadgets even while dating. This is what she is accustomed to.

Stop appeasing her

Ivan Waswa. Stop contributing to the joint account. Maybe involve some of her friends who you know are financially responsible and can talk some sense into her head. Stop trying to appease her because this is leading her down a thorny path.

Let her go

Hajarah Namuddu. There is nothing that will kill you faster than marrying an incompatible partner. It is obvious that she cares more about herself and not you or your future endeavours. Let her go.

Get financial help

Martin Ssebyala. Calculate all your deposits on the joint account and withdraw it. Then look for support from a financial management counsellor. During this time, be as stingy as you can be but meet your financial obligations as the man of the home until you get help and she shows that she understands the damage she is causing to the relationship and your home.

Get professional help

Jane Mukisa. Get yourself a therapist who understands addictions, for an outlet to vent, complain, cry, whatever, so that you can find some calm and at least passing serenity, to listen to what your heart and intuition are telling you. Otherwise, you will be acting out of rage and may make rash decisions you will regret. Your wife needs help, and for your own conscience’s sake, you probably want to at least give her the opportunity to get help.

Talk to your wife

David Musoke. You both need to answer some basic questions about your marriage, to see if she values the relationship enough to get her financial house in order and whether you have the self-control to give her time to do so. Until your future together is secure, do not even consider buying property and continue to keep your finances completely separate.

Communication is key

Junior Lutu. Lack of communication is the source of many marital issues. The best way to be sure you and your spouse are on the same page with your joint finances is to talk about them regularly, honestly, and without judgment. Do not do it when you are angry  or tired.

Evelyn Khorono Lufafa is a counselling psychologist with Sermotherapy Counselling Foundation

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