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Qipaogirl's avatar

What should you do when a spouse keeps things from you?

Asked by Qipaogirl (701 points ) 1 month ago

The other night my husband and I were out at a party and as the night wore on he ended up giving me his jacket as it became chilly. While wearing the jacket I put my hands in the pocket and found a letter from his ex dated two weeks previously. In the letter she was asking him to pay for some special sports clinic for their one son. He is not a particularly gifted athlete, but he likes sports. This clinic is 25,000. To clarify my husband has two children with this woman. Of the two children, she favors the one, and this is the one she wants these clinics for as a self esteem booster.

There has been a history of spending vast sums of money on this child that neither parent can afford. between the two of them they earn 125k per year, each have the kids equally. They each have accumulated much debt and little if any savings especially for retirement. In short, neither can afford this program.

My husband and I have had talks about finances and budgets because frankly he is 60 years old and has saved nothing for retirement. He knows we need to do this. I have created a budget that permits money for both of the children to have activities, but there is no way his 75k salary plus all of his debt and the bills of life can find room for such an expense.

This type of situation always makes him both upset and guilty. Upset that he cannot just give his kids these things, even though there is no realistic way to expect that either he or his mother could ever afford such things, but both have a history of taking on debt for the kids, especially this child, to have things. He then gets hurt because he knows his son will become wildly upset and reactive and his ex will become angry and insulting towards him.

It really hurts me that he has chosen not to share this with me at all. It feels deceitful. I am not certain whether I should admit I know or keep waiting to see if he decides to share the fact that his ex is expecting him to magically find 25k.

When these situations have occurred in the past we have always discussed them and I have been able to calm him down. So, there should be no fear on his part of me going nuts. I know that he is torturing himself with this, and he is probably going into the space of being a failure as a parent and a loser because he cannot just randomly treat his kids to indulgences of this magnitude.

So two issues, am I right to feel upset that this is being hidden from me, and do I say something or wait and see what he does?

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22 Answers

snowberry's avatar

If it were my husband, I’d mention that I found the letter in his jacket pocket that night, and open up a conversation about it. There’s no point in having him keep it from you, adding to his discomfort. I’d tell him that I’m there to support US (as in him, you, and the kids). The kids won’t benefit if Grandpa loses his home or whatever because he’s gone broke from giving the kids fun activities (self-esteem builders or not).

By the way, he might do better to actually spend time with those kids rather than throw money at the problem. The kids need loving people in their lives more than more activities, and THAT’S what builds a sense of self worth.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It’s a tough question. For all you know, he might already have told the ex that the 25 grand sports clinic was out of the question. Regardless, it’s certainly an issue you are more than justified in bringing up.

marinelife's avatar

He should choose to talk it over with you, but it is his choice as long as he is not planning to spend the money.

As to whether you should tell him you found and read the letter, you know your relationship best.

Qipaogirl's avatar

No, he does spend lots of time with them as he has the kids equally, so this is not some substitute for being a present and attentive parent.

Do you think I am justified in feel ing concerned that he is choosing to keep this from me? It bothers me to know he has hidden this request which I know is worrying him from me.

Many thanks for the thoughts and replies as they are much appreciated!

SuperFreakMe's avatar

In my sad, current situation, over the past 6 years, I have found that once someone begins keeping things from their spouse it gets easier and easier. Suddenly you find that you both are not
communicating, at all. I understand yours is a specific situation in your marriage. My advice is to, please not let it pass, communicate. It can snowball over years and, as in my situation, cause much anger and resentment.
Good Luck!

gailcalled's avatar

If nothing else, you should consider that $25,000 will pay for a semester’s tuition at a college. To piss that away on a sport clinic seems really crazy. Does your husband expect you will not notice this expense in the household budget?

The issues over the son’s inappropriate behavior as well as the ex-wife’s are beyond my fieldof expertise. How about getting in a marriage counselor or arbitrator to deal with what are really thorny subjects. A 60-year-old man who is earning 75k a year is obviously not stupid.

He lent you his jacket; you found the letter; you chose to read it. You have to talk to him now. Maybe this is the moment to find better (hard to image worse ones) coping mechanisms for all parties with some outside help. You have that right. It is your life and retirement also.

You might want to refer back to some very wise advice you got when you asked this question in February of 2013:: http://www.fluther.com/156475/boundaries-in-a-second-marriage/

Qipaogirl's avatar

@SuperFreakMe I am so sorry for you own circumstances which seem most distressing. Thank you for sharing your story, which clearly is painful for you. That is what I fear that it becomes all to easy to just not talk and hide. I think , I will bring it up obliquely, and see if that spurs him to make some mention of the situation.

@gailcalled wow thank you for all of the care that you took in your replying and connecting to a prior situation I had discussed! Agree completely that that sort of money is best put toward retirement and both of his children’s education rather than a sport clinic type thing.

We have tried counseling and the therapist was at pains to remind him constantly that he is entitled to happiness and that this incessant need to never disappoint his kids or say no is not only unhealthy but it is detrimental to their healthful maturation. My husband sees the logic of this when nothing is awry, but situations like this cause him to lose perspective in a big way. The fact that he is not discussing this causes me to wonder if he is going to try to find some way to accomplish this craziness if not in full in part. Thank you!

Thank you all for the wise advice and opinions. A clearer picture is asserting itself of what to do.

funkdaddy's avatar

Not an easy situation, but just wanted to offer a few things, possibly from a different perspective

- I often don’t bring things up with my wife until I at least have a plan and an understanding of how I feel about them. It’s not to hide them from her, I’m just not prepared to discuss them productively until those two things happen. I’m adding to her load and I’d rather have my side at least ready to discuss. So in this situation I’d have my decisions made and if I was going to give the money, know where I wanted to take that money from, before coming to you. It would still very much be up for discussion, but I think your natural first question will be to ask what he’s going to do, so he may just want to have that answer.
– If my wife found out about something in the interim I’d much prefer she just said “I saw that letter in your pocket about the sports camp, do you want to talk about it?” than “hey, what’s new with the ex-wife?” (or something oblique)... one feels like an opening, the other feels like a trap
– How much ex-wife drama do you really want to be involved in? I can understand the financial issue, but if he’s already said no, and she lost her cool on him, or started hitting below the belt with the kids, would he share that? Would you want him to? Would it just be another painful conversation that he had to go through that wouldn’t change anything?

Obviously you know your husband better than I do and maybe he’s a completely different animal than myself or anyone here, but hopefully something there will help.

Qipaogirl's avatar

@funkdaddy Thank you, thank you! I could see the first notion being a possibility. He does like to find his answer first. It could be that he is perhaps deciding if he can afford and how much and where it would come from.

I don’t want to trap him, but rather give him an opportunity to share something that I am sure is bothering him. I am surmising the perhaps at this point he does not know how to bring it up.

There is no dealing with the ex by me, and there is no way to avoid the drama as it affects my husband deeply, so there is no avoiding. Frankly, I would not want him to face it alone because his first instinct is to unjustly fault and blame himself.

I really do think that you could be correct that he is trying to suss it out first. Though part of me still wishes he would just come and talk with me right away. Thank you for your perspective as it was most enlightening!!!!

snowberry's avatar

Here’s a thought. If he’s so set on throwing money at these kids all the time, how about he take on a second job to pay for all that fun? No money ever may be taken out of the household budget or your retirement to pay for the fun stuff.

funkdaddy's avatar

@snowberry – they’re his children

snowberry's avatar

@funkdaddy Yep. And he’s robbing from his household budget or retirement account to do it.

CWMcCall's avatar

It would be a solid life lesson for your husband to teach his son that not everyone can afford to have everything they may desire in life. Give your husband the support he will need to convey this difficult message to his son.

jca's avatar

When is the money due and how would he be getting it (loan, taking it out of retirement account)? In the past, when he’s had these types of situations, how has he obtained the money?

What would happen if you, after discussing it with him, just said no, I don’t want that? “This is OUR money not just your money, and I don’t want that. You pay child support and you help out in other ways, and I don’t want 25k of our money going toward something like this.”

Qipaogirl's avatar

Thanks all for the suggestions, in the past when there has been a sharing of an expense it has always been mentioned and budgeted. The problem is there are then always requests for more and additional funds because his ex realizes she cannot pay her portion. Then there is a bill from whatever organization asking for the money. Now there is no room for an expense of this magnitude as we already budget 600 per month for “children’s activities.” I perused the site of this sports program and this tuition does not include extra “recommended” one on one coaching and equipment, so the 25,000 will not be the end of it.

The problem is that I have no idea whether he is going to want to try to find a way to contribute or not because he is saying nothing…

He has half custody, just like I have with my kids. So, this is not a “try to make up for not being there” situation.

Both the child and the ex are very reactive and I know he is dreading the inevitable fallout, but yes there comes a point where one needs to realize that retirement and the next year looming expenses of college for the other child need to be considered.

The lack of communication worries me as I don’t know what he is thinking. I am concerned that nothing has been said. Many thanks to all for the thoughts and suggestions!!!!

jca's avatar

@Qipaogirl: I know that this is your husband’s children with someone else, but since the money issue affects both you and the ex-wife’s husband, maybe there should be a family meeting with the two couples to discuss calmly the money situation and what will be given and expected, and what should not be expected?

Also, regarding the sports clinic, is it like a professional type of thing? I ask because that’s a sum of money I would expect from something that might prepare a kid for professional sports. Isn’t there a summer type clinic available that’s just for a few months and probably cheaper? Like a “happy medium?”

dappled_leaves's avatar

I agree with @CWMcCall here. Having both parents in debt in order to satisfy their child’s frivolous desires is not going to make him feel fulfilled, it is only going to make him feel entitled. Later, when he has his own finances to manage, he will see nothing wrong with going into debt for unimportant things. This is a cycle you should break now.

Qipaogirl's avatar

@jca Great suggestions, thank you! It’s not that his ex and her husband won’t help. it’s more a product of there is not that amount of money on either side to afford this large number. It is a continuation of a pattern of them agreeing to share, not having enough and then we get stuck for what they cannot afford. In this case there just is not the 25k/12.5k on either side to pay for what amounts to fun, but his mom does not want to say no to him. This has been a problem for years.

I am sure that less expensive options exist. Unfortunately,they will be deemed not good enough and too much of a “let down.”

Truly, I understand wanting the best for your children, but you have to be able to afford it. Even if my husband threw all of his own discretionary money at this it still would not be half, and there is nowhere else to borrow from in the budget, and he has little saved. It worries me that he is not discussing and this living beyond means with no thought to the future feels very wrong.

I have always been honest with my kids about how much money is available and we choose things that fit that range, so this whole notion of just giving what is wanted rather than what can be afforded is foreign to me. I also do not keep things of this magnitude from my spouse which also concerns.

Thanks so much for your thoughts! They are appreciated!!!

Qipaogirl's avatar

@dappled_leaves Thanks for weighing in, and I agree with you. This “I want it and I don’t care” attitude has been present for some time, and it is the parents fault for continually giving into to the screaming crying and door slamming.

What my husband does or does not do ultimately is his decision, but if he is impacting an entire family budget to do it then I have issue. It is the quietness that concerns as I feel as though his lack of saying something means he is going to try to do this. I do believe it is teaching the wrong values, but I have learned that you cannot tell others how to bring up their children. It seems to make them dig their heels in even more. I just worry that he is saying nothing, so I don’t know what he is thinking/planning.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Have your husband tell his ex that he’ll have to have full custody of his kids, as you and he are footing more of the expenses than she. That should nip it in the bud…........ or, blow it out of the water.

jca's avatar

@Qipaogirl: So based upon what’s been done in the past, where would this 25k come from?

I call this “champagne taste on a beer budget.”

If a lesser sports clinic isn’t up to what they expect for the boy, then I say “so be it.” Anything more is not realistic.

Qipaogirl's avatar

There is no place for him to find the full or half of the 25k @jca, but the fact that he is not mentioning it leads me to worry that he is trying to figure something out. The other day he was looking to find less costly health insurance… Heaven only knows.

Sadly, I have no clue because he is not sharing.

@Jonesn4burgers neither of them could deal with their kids full time. You are right though it would bring things to a head!

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