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Financial abuse or luxury?

(187 Posts)
hopingforinsight Wed 08-May-13 13:17:31

N/c as some posters know my RL identity.

Before we had DC, DH and I both had well paid professional jobs, at about the same level. However, I have now been a sahm for many years whilst DH has significantly progressed his career. My earning power is currently negligible relative to his.

Fast forward to now: DH likes to know what I spend, so I pay for everything on a credit card for which DH has the password so he can view the transactions. He keeps a real time spreadsheet of my expenditure split into categories which he looks at most days. There is no way for me to spend without it appearing on the spreadsheet (other than cash, and DH doesn't like me to get out cash).

My credit card bill consists mainly of family expenditure: food, insurance, car costs, DC clothes, holidays, vet bills etc The annual total is in the tens of thousands but it is well within our budget, and has still enabled us to make significant savings for retirement. I generally feel too guilty to spend money directly on myself but that is probably my own perception rather than imposed by DH who often buys me generous presents - he likes to choose my clothes and my jewellery.

DH also has a credit card, the monthly spend coming out of the joint account. I have no way of telling how much of that is business expenditure and how much is personal - it could be 100% business or it could be 100% personal. It does not appear on the spreadsheet. I feel it is up to him what he does with the money he has earned so that doesn't bother me.

Anyway, should I feel uncomfortable that DH has such a close monitoring of my spend, which I find a little infantalising, or is it reasonable of him to want to know where the money is going?

In short, I have no financial privacy, but I'm not sure why I want it.

A friend of mine tells me this is financial abuse .... even though DH has NEVER criticised me for overspending, or attempted to limit the amount.

BTW my DH works such long hours that I hardly see him and we live pretty separate lives so I do feel like a paid housekeeper sometimes and maybe that is the heart of my problem....... (the spreadsheet makes me feel like an employee providing receipts tbh).

Sorry about the long post; to refocus, my question is whether I should be insisting on financial privacy or not? Is this accountability reasonable and normal, or is it a strange way to live? Or am I simply jolly lucky?

Parabelle - if he walked out tomorrow she'd be entitled to a very good settlement so would be fine (although a good lawyer would be essential as he sounds the type to hide assets). I'm sure he wouldn't be so stupid as to leave his wife without whilst negotiating the settlement. It would not get the courts on his side and a quick call to his office could really hurt his career. He's controlling, but with a job that well paid is not stupid.

DottyboutDots Wed 08-May-13 13:54:14

Just say you want some privacy as you feel uncomfortable with his spreadsheet.

The fact that you feel unnerved is usually a sign that something is wrong.

FWIW we are in quite a wealthy bracket and I use a CC for the bulk of my purchases, but that is because it is linked to a program that we like earning points for. My DH never, ever questions what I buy and doesn't choose clothes for me either.

We do discuss on laptops in front of the telly our planned big expenditures for the month but that's only to manage cash flow.

Bugger what he says, start to take out cash and see what he says. The counter it, with Fuck Off, you're not my dad.

quietlysuggests Wed 08-May-13 13:54:23

Ask yourself this
If the roles were reversed is there a chance in HELL you would treat your husband like a little au-pair: able to mind the children, has access to money but afraid to spend anything at all.
Seriously he earns nearly a million and you have to ask for 500 for a computer?
Seriously he wont let you have cash?
Seriously he trashes the clothes you buy so you only wear what he chooses?

You would seriously be better off financially if you divorce.
That is, unless he has a second family he has to support as well!!

CinnabarRed Wed 08-May-13 13:54:36

You're a bird in a gilded cage. It's still a cage.

hopingforinsight Wed 08-May-13 13:54:51

whowho I am so glad it's not just me! How does it make you feel? Is there a way out? Are we just entitled kept women? When I was young and successful, I never thought I would one day be here....

maras sadly, I suspect I am weird as that is the reaction I get when I talk to people about my life which then means I can't talk about it any more and am no further on! I think I have lost grip on normality. My father was very controlling (and/or my mother was a natural victim).

I really appreciate honest answers. Thank you to everyone.

apatchylass Wed 08-May-13 13:54:52

What do you mean 'how entitled must I be'? Do you feel greedy for wanting a computer of your own?

Your OP has gobsmacked me. It's a definition of a kept woman. Everything on his terms. Have to say, DH got this way when DC were tiny. Not quite as bad as your DH but deeply controlling about money. Soon as DC were in school I set up my own business, separate account and he has no access to it or knowledge of it. Now I earn more than him from it and although I love him dearly and he is overall a very lovely man, i still get a little thrill of payback time when he's struggling because he had me practically barefoot and chained to the stove for the first five years, living on child benefit while he spend more on lunch time glasses of wine at work than he gave me to keep me and the DC occupied all week. We had access to his second credit card, but no cash, so no freedom.

You DON'T have to live like this. Get back earning. Set up a separate account. Set up a separate, password protected log in on the family computer for now. You are allowed to live like an adult and to have as many benefits in life as him. Has he any idea how very creepy he's being?

It's not middle aged crisis, it's coming to your senses. As to saving money from Waitrose bills - Ibsen was writing about how unfair it is that women live like this over 100 years ago. Read A Doll's House! Read the feminist section of MN. But, please take charge of your own life and get some money of your own sorted out.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Wed 08-May-13 13:55:20

Abuse.

He treats you like a housekeeper, and dress-up doll. An untrustworthy one at that.

Please read the links at the top of the emotional abuse support thread. You deserve a much better life than this, one where you have the freedom to be your own person.

eminemmerdale Wed 08-May-13 13:57:22

sad sad

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 08-May-13 13:59:00

"If I go out and spend money on clothes (I have done this before) then he tells me that they didn't suit me/ made me look frumpy/ were cheap looking. He doesn't make me take them back but he does make me not want to wear them. To be fair, he buys me much more expensive clothes than I would buy myself. He says he has more taste than I do. He probably does."

Jesus H Christ....

quietlysuggests Wed 08-May-13 13:59:16

Me again, I just am so angry at your situation, it comes up all the time on mumsnet and I never would have believed that in 2013 so many men treat their families like its the 1950s. It is so abusive. Women would NEVER do this to men on such a scale.
Imagine if all his posh colleagues and clients were to know that his wife is at home not allowed to carry cash or decide for herself to buy a computer!!
Jesus Christ woman, this man needs a quick kick.

He sounds horribly controlling.

If he is earning that much money, there is no reason for you to feel guilty buying some things for yourself. And you probably wouldn't, except that he makes you put everything in a spreadsheet and looks at it every day.

He doesn't have to say anything to be controlling, you are controlling yourself because of his actions.

As a start, I would ask him to enter a new item on the monthly spreadsheet: £XXX for your personal spending (clothes, treats, what have you). Then withdraw this in cash every month. Just have it on hand so that you can treat yourself when you like without second guessing yourself.

If he genuinely is not trying to control you, he won't have a problem with it. After all, it will be on the spreadsheet, and you can afford it.

If he says no, then I think you know you have a serious problem. He does not trust you or respect you or see you as his equal.

DottyboutDots Wed 08-May-13 14:01:04

Change the passwords on your savings accounts and, if possible hire a forensic accountant to get an idea of your true financial position.

Fairylea Wed 08-May-13 14:01:27

Wow. That's bonkers.

I am a sahm. Dh and I have two joint accounts. Everything goes in and out of one and a set amount of what is left over goes to the other one to be spent between us. Neither of us care what we spend our spending money on as long as we don't go mad and go into the overdraft.

Typically if anything I am a bit naughty and overspend my share so dh has a little bit less than me but he just laughs about it. I get carried away on eBay etc.

I couldn't bear anyone checking up on me or what I spend.

apatchylass Wed 08-May-13 14:01:59

OP - seriously - why are you glad Whoswho is in the same boat as you? Why would you want anyone else to be stuck like this. Get out now, both of you. It's only your mindset keeping you there. Sell the bloody Jimmy Choos on Ebay to get a bit of cash and set up your own business. Or put those stunning designer clothes on and go out and get yourselves great jobs somewhere.

You're not dolls. Don't behave like dolls. The passivity frightens me. DH did this to me when I had no choice whatsoever, as DS2 was so severely ill that it took all my energy to care for him, and I had no rational mind left to sort myself out. But underneath I was seething. Almost left him over it. Instead, I sorted myself out, on my own terms. Now we have a far more equal marriage and my balls are so much bigger than his. smile

You friend is right; you are being financially abused here; controlling behaviour like he is showing you is abusive behaviour. He is setting a terrible example to his children as well.

You are truly the bed in his gilded cage of his own making; he is choosing what you wear and dislikes your choice of clothes.

Abuse like this is insidious in its onset so it is not your fault entirely that you have not spotted this until now.

Would suggest you read "Why does he do that?" written by Lundy Bancroft and make plans to leave him enlisting the help of Womens Aid, friends and family. You will never be truly free otherwise, yours is a pitiful kept woman existance.

Floggingmolly Wed 08-May-13 14:03:23

Luxury???? What part of you identified this nonsense as luxury? sad

TheSmallPrint Wed 08-May-13 14:03:31

I am quite shocked by your post OP and really saddened that you appear to have such low self esteem due to you husband's behaviour.

Please go and buy yourself a computer/ipad and password protect it. Don't tell anyone what that password is, they have no need to know if they all have their own. Don't ask permission for it, just do it and see if you get any comments back. I suspect you will be told that the model / brand you've bought isn't very good and you should have let him choose you one etc.

If your children are at school then start looking to get yourself back out there and get some financial independence and also some self esteem. You are worth more than he is making you feel.

parabelle Wed 08-May-13 14:05:07

^worsestershiresauce Wed 08-May-13 13:52:53
Parabelle - if he walked out tomorrow she'd be entitled to a very good settlement so would be fine (although a good lawyer would be essential as he sounds the type to hide assets). I'm sure he wouldn't be so stupid as to leave his wife without whilst negotiating the settlement. It would not get the courts on his side and a quick call to his office could really hurt his career. He's controlling, but with a job that well paid is not stupid.^

I don't think he's stupid, but I have seen how separation and divorce change people and personally I wouldn't be happy being in such a vulnerable financial position.
But it doesn't sound from OP like he's about to leave.
OP, it does sound though, that you need to take small steps to achieve some financial independence. Not necessarily a job if you honestly feel it wouldn't be worth it, but maybe something to stop you feeling like he's so in control. Hope this thread helps and you sort something soon.

parabelle Wed 08-May-13 14:05:28

Well those italics didn't work did they?!

Branleuse Wed 08-May-13 14:06:06

its up to you if you want to live like this. some women do and are very happy but its a specific sort of fetish rather than anything like normal, and if you havent actually agreed to it nor do you get any actual attention or physical presence from him in any other way then it sounds very unappealing to me.

financial abuse.

i'd start siphoning off money into a secret account tbh. everyone needs their own money that they don't have to justify to anyone. even if it's £1.

i knew a guy who mortgaged his house up to the limit, maxed the credit cards, withdrew all the money from the savings and current accounts and left the country. his wife and small child were left destitute.

your dh has an awful lot of privacy doesn't he? yet you have none. it has nothing to do with amounts of money. it just makes it less justifiable if you have a lot. more justifiable if you have less.

and i'd also change all the passwords on the savings accounts to ones that you know so you can see what's happening.

if he asks why you need to know, have you tried countering it with 'why shouldn't i know? it's my money too.'?

What do you want to teach your children about relationships here?. This as a role model?. For goodness sake make plans to leave asap. I never write that at all lightly but I will call this abuse because control like he shows you is abusive.

i agree with TheSmallPrint.

go and get a computer and password protect. say it's your personal pc. do not explain beyond that or give in to giving him your password.

this guy is a total shit. sorry, hopingforinsight, but he is.

hopingforinsight Wed 08-May-13 14:08:22

aptchylass well done you! I should have done that a while back.

I have suggested having a password protected bit of the family computer to myself (everyone uses my log-in for some reason) but DH says that there is too much shared stuff there now that he needs access to, so it is too late.

Ok, I need a job. I have tried in the past and always given up as I am needed at home - DH doesn't mind me working but only if it does not impinge on him so I still need to do or organise all the housework, childcare, shopping, cooking, maintenance, admin. That's a tall order and I don't have the stamina really: I fell into a good job about 8 years ago which lasted a year before I collapsed with a heart problem brought on by overwork...I was then advised (medically) not to work full time again but I am quite prepared to ignore that as I don't see how a fulfilling job would necessarily take a larger strain on me than being at home, and I feel fine.... but maybe I am complacent and lazy. i am also not sure I am very employable any more so my own business would be the way forward especially if I can get to leave the house.

It is reassuring in some ways that everyone is telling me I deserve more but I'm not sure that is true, incidentally - I was always very academic and good at my job but have never been a good housewife..... eg I hate cleaning and cooking. Just putting the other side because I don't want to get carried away with people being sympathetic thinking I am some sort of martyr! I am not.

Plus3 Wed 08-May-13 14:08:28

I think it depends on how you feel about it really. If you are happy with the situation then it's for you and your DH to manage.

However - you don't sound happy so you need to talk to him about it. Maybe he has got too organised and just needs reigning in a bit. hmm

For what it's worth, I think he is being completely unreasonable.

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