She Lies about Money

Q: After 30 years of marriage, my husband found out that I have been lying about money and hiding bills. He is absolutely furious with me, and I don't blame him. This isn't the first time I've done this, yet I don't know why I continue to do it. He says it's over, he wants to run as fast as he can away from our marriage. I have never cheated on him and still love him so very deeply. I told him I will work night and day to try to make all of this up to him. What on earth can I do? I feel like shooting myself, but that's not my kind of thing. -- Gigi, 48

Dr. Susan: Money and sex. Sex and money. Couples lie to one another about those two things more than you'd ever guess. And when your partner lies about one topic, you always have to wonder if he or she's lying about the other one, too. Lying about anything is a betrayal of trust. So why do so many women lie about what they spend on themselves? It's a simple way of retaining control when you feel powerless (or less powerful than you'd like) in a relationship. It's a way of avoiding conflict, especially if you and your spouse have very different ideas about what money should be spent on. For example, why on earth would you need yet another pair of shoes or another handbag? You know what you want, he doesn't get it and never will. So you buy it anyway and just don't tell him. But when he finds out, he's furious. You feel such intense shame that you talk about shooting yourself.

What you've been doing is passive-aggressive. Far better to be out in the open and find ways to compromise so that both of you get most of your needs met, if not all. What can you do to fix this mess now that it's exploded around you? Promise him you'll get some counseling, and then do it. It may be necessary to bring him into counseling with you, to find out how he may have contributed to your needing (wanting) to hide your purchases from him. For instance, does he question you like a bullying father over every single thing you buy? If counseling isn't going to happen (and since you've been married a very long time), offer to give him full control of the finances. Accept an allowance from him that you're allowed to spend however you like. Sure, it's like going back to the Middle Ages. But it might save your marriage and help you control yourself when you can't seem to do it yourself.

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