I have been reading several of your answers to questions regarding debt by one spouse and the underlying issues in the relationship. In several cases you mention the questionable character of the spouse who isn’t willing to offer assistance to the other who has accrued debt and is unable to pay.
With that preface let me also say I find your information to be extremely helpful and I respect your opinions. Please understand my sarcasm comes from 5 long years of frustration and anxiety over an impossible amount of debt. So here’s my situation, my husband has been unemployed from his career in corporate America for the past 5 years. He works a few days per week making minimum wage as a waiter but in my opinion has made no real effort to seek employment to match his abilities or his education. During this 5 year period he has accrued debt of over $200,000 on personal credit cards, loans and business debts for his 2 small businesses. I am co-owner of one business which I thought might be a possible solution to compensate for his lost wages. Wow, was I wrong. I have no ownership rights to the other business. And just to clarify, none of the businesses make any money which can be contributed to our household needs. As you may already see, his trend is to open one more business and take out one more loan hoping this is the one that will change the world.
I maintain a good job with excellent benefits, medical insurance and an income which has supported our family and ALL household bills since his unemployment from his career field. I also work ovetime every week when it’s available. My spouse continues to open more lines of credit, credit cards and spend, spend, spend. He eats lunch out 4-5 times per week, takes trips to go hiking or camping and spends a good portion of his day on the cell phone. You should see those bills!! I feel his actions are irresponsible and show little respect for me, our family or our relationship. So here are my questions:
Would you consider me to be one of those bad character spouses who isn’t holding up the for better or worse vow? I find myself exhaused from the overtime hours and constant worrying over paying the bills without any financial support from him?
And secondly, what can I do to get out of this mess? Why should I file bankruptcy… I can afford my house and my vehicle and my grocery bill all by myself… been doing it for 5 years. How do I get myself detached from the business in which I share ownership? What happens if we get divorced? Will I be stuck with all his bad debt, despite my good efforts?
What are the options for one spouse who contributes all the financial support to the relationship when the other spouse spends irresponsibly and has accrued insurmountable debt?
Thank you so much for writing me. You brought up some great points and I’m going to be blunt in my answers but just know that I am speaking from experience and I don’t know you or your husband personally.
From what you have shared your husband is financially irresponsible and insensitive to your relationship and his obligations as a man, a husband, and a provider for his family. I think you are being used so he can go have an exciting life without any responsibility.
What you describe is an unhealthy co-dependent relationship where you enable his bad behavior by working hard and footing the bill.
The business efforts sound unproductive but I would bet that is because he is more of a planner and a schemer than an implementer. He sounds like an adrenaline junky that stimulates himself in the excitement of the startup without the investment in the grind that it takes to grow a successful business.
On the lighter side approach you could find a local counselor and encourage him to participate in counseling to work through these issues. He may be afraid of embracing responsibility again the loss of his corporate job. Maybe he is just afraid to seriously work for someone else after his traumatic experience after losing his corporate job.
Based on his performance, I’ve seen that work few, if any, times.
On the opposite side of the solution scale you could divorce him, go bankrupt and ditch the leech for the security of your children, if you have any.
I think you should talk to a local divorce attorney and learn more about your options there. Follow-up that conversation with a local bankruptcy attorney to learn what bankruptcy would mean for you.
Then, in some last ditch fairness to your husband, confront him with the game plan you have worked out with the local professionals and lay down the law about what must need to change. If he takes action to change and radically alters his dependence on the thrill of the chase and the life of luxury, good on him.
If he does not make an effort to change, I think that is a clear signal that you’ve become nothing more than his dealer of choice for his preferred drug, money. In that case, implement your plan and move on.
Sometimes people need understanding and compassion, while others need a swift kick in the ass and to be drenched with the cold water of reality. In my humble opinion your husband could benefit from a kick in the ass.
Please update me on your progress by posting updates here in the comments section of your question. I’m very interested in how this works out for you.
P.S. Be sure to read ‘The Secret of Surviving Through Difficult Economic Times. What I Learned On My Journey‘.