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Husband I'm separating from's obsession with money.

(81 Posts)
Doughnut123 Thu 10-Oct-13 13:58:02

I am separated from my husband, but we still live together at the moment. We are separating after 15 years of marriage and 3 children.
Our relationship has been in trouble for years, but now I've had enough and we are separated . He agrees that we cannot go on like this. We've had counselling, but there are fundamental differences in how we want to live/see life, that cannot be resolved.
We still get on as friends, and, at the moment, everything is amicable.
However, my husband saw a solicitor a couple of weeks ago and one thing he said about the meeting haunts me. He said that he had been advised that I would only have a claim on his pension if we divorce.
'But we are going to divorce,' I said.
I could sense that he was anxious about this, but he said no more.
What gets me , is that it all seems to come down to money with him, in the end. He told me that he still loved me when I pushed for the separation. How can someone supposedly in love with their wife, be more concerned about her getting her hands on any of his pension, than the fact that she's leaving him?
He is a very high earner and puts a huge amount into pension funds. We don't have a joint account, partly because I wanted to retain my independence with my current account. But, He told me how much he earns recently and I was shocked. It was really when my solicitor broke it down so that I could see how much he earns per month, that it hit me.
He is a penny pincher. He's not mean with the bigger expenses so much, it's the small stuff, day to day,that gets me, like refusing the children a bag of sweets each at the cinema, because he thought they were too pricey. There's a general angst about money.
He is very careful, and squirrels a lot away, in shares and savings, which , I know, is admirable. But, I feel that he's so wrapped up in money( his job is too- he works for an insurance broker!) that he misses out on living and enjoying it too much. There's no spontaneity. There is a protocol to be followed if we get any work done on the house. We HAVE to have 3 quotes before we decide who to go with!
I feel stifled. I'm not at all a spend thrift and love the simple things in life.
I live more in the moment and he plans meticulously.It also feels quite controlling. He pays me £400 per month, but I have a joint credit card that I get food shopping, clothes for the children, with. I don't know how much is in his account, but now I know how much he gets per month I feel angry. He frequently says that we need to ' watch the money ,' so I get worried about it.
I know that I am in a very fortunate position and I know and have worked with a lot of very poverty stricken people.
But, I think this also highlights for me his preoccupation with money, because it is unjustified.
He's never been poor, his family are middle class and his dad is a real miser. As a result, of course, they have a lot of money.
It is the end of our relationship and I can see he is heading the same way as his dad, so I have to get out.
Surely, a man who really still loved his wife, would give up all his worldly goods, if he could still have her love?It just seems, sadly, that this is what a relationship can amount to, in the end. I would love to hear your thoughts.

olgaga Thu 10-Oct-13 14:20:29

I suppose if he is money-conscious, he will have experienced the sudden realisation that divorce costs a lot of money. Legal fees are only part of it. The fact that you will in future need to run two homes instead of one is the biggest ongoing expense.

He is not just looking at sharing the pension, he's looking at spousal maintenance for you - or a settlement which will buy out those elements. Plus ongoing child maintenance. So he's probably a bit shell-shocked.

I would carry on as you always have - you and the children still need clothes. You still need to buy food and pay for everything you are paying for. If he tells you to "watch the money" just tell him that you always have.

If you haven't already got legal advice, you need to do so. Now.

Ask around to see if you can get any word of mouth recommendations, or look at the Resolution website.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 10-Oct-13 14:35:27

I'm confused. Are you divorcing him because he's mean, or are you divorcing him for other non-money-related reasons and the divorce process has shown him up to be mean?

ageofgrandillusion Thu 10-Oct-13 14:50:34

Not sure that it matters if you are getting divorced OP. Just make sure you take the tight arsed fuck to the cleaners. FWIW, i have never met a miser who is actually happy.

olgaga Thu 10-Oct-13 14:51:47

I meant to add, if you have already decided to divorce him, his meanness is only relevant to the battle you may have over finance. Which is why I'm urging you to get good legal advice.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 10-Oct-13 14:56:51

FWIW... as the DD of a working-class family and as someone who experienced financial hardship as an adult, I think I live life on the basis that it might all be taken away tomorrow. This insecurity means I'm also a big saver/investor, get three quotes from tradesmen, tell DS we need to rein in the spending occasionally and object to buying the pick n mix in the cinema (amongst other indulgences) on the basis of it being daylight robbery. I'm now wondering if others see me as a miser... shock

olgaga Thu 10-Oct-13 15:01:38

No way are you a miser Cogito. I took DD and two friends to the cinema for a birthday treat and they got pick n mix at the Vue cinema. It cost more than the tickets! I nearly fainted...never again.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 10-Oct-13 15:09:45

OP... on the strength of me and Olgaga feeling the same way, your STBXH is NBU necessarily on the cinema sweets thing. Is the incompatibility on spending the only problem in the relationship? Does the tight control aspect spill over into non-money areas?

JustinBsMum Thu 10-Oct-13 15:19:58

It used to be possible to get a lump sum on divorce rather than pension when ex retires, I don't know if that is still the case. Perhaps that would be better than have him controlling things at some point in the future if he is known to be stingey.

eurochick Thu 10-Oct-13 15:21:29

Being a higher earner is not inconsistent with being careful with money. I will always want quotes from tradesmen, etc and shop around to make sure I get a good deal.

I second the advice to get a good solicitor as it sounds like there will be quite a fight over the finances.

ninilegsintheair Thu 10-Oct-13 15:37:25

Reading with interest as my husband is similar (although not a high earner, more middle-management), and I have a similar outlook on money as you do. Penny-pinching when it's not necessary is a real romance killer.

What type of penny-pincher is he? There are those that simply will not spend money if they can and see every time they open their wallet as a reason to go into mourning. Then there are those who would never buy sweets at the cinema (for example) but have some expensive hobbies for themselves that they solely benefit from. Which is he?

It sounds like you need to be prepared to expect a battle over money. And possibly for him to start complaining about 'she who took all my money'.

As for the sweets at the cinema thing - best way to do it is to go to wilko's before hand and smuggle in some cheap sweets. If he refuses to even fork out for that (as my husband would), then you have a problem.

I do agree about getting three quotes from workmen though, that's standard and common sense.

Sahmof3 Thu 10-Oct-13 15:37:31

In some ways he just sounds sensible with money to me. Getting three quotes for a job is always a good idea and, as for the sweets in the cinema, I don't blame him for not wanting to pay the rip-off prices. Of course, I don't know how much he earns...if it really is a fortune, then it may well be a bit mean! Tbh, you also sound rather materialistic and concerned about money given that you seem to equate his love for you with his pension fund (that is meant to be said in as gentle a way as possible..I think many of us would react in the way you have to the news that he has been squirrelling away so much). Actually, what concerns me the most is that you've only just found out how much he earns. I find it really strange that you could be married and have kids with someone and not know what he is paid. Sounds deceitful to me.

ninilegsintheair Thu 10-Oct-13 15:40:00

My post sounds unsympathetic, but it's not, I get where you're coming from OP. Being told you're struggling for money when you're not is mean and actually a way of controlling you.

If you feel he's changing into his miserly dad, you'd both probably be happier apart.

Suzietwo Thu 10-Oct-13 15:41:21

men are quite simple creatures

when they feel threatened they retreat into what they know and in this case, its money

the only way he is able to quantify the way the potential divorce is making him feel, is by putting a £ sign in front of it

im a divorce lawyer and have come across this more times than i can remember. all their anger during the process goes into fighting the money. sadly the result is often that their children stop wanting to see them

Suzietwo Thu 10-Oct-13 15:42:13

also, 400pcm and joint credit card....you say he's high earner which i assume is in excess of £150k p/a...he's being terrifically tight.

Timetoask Thu 10-Oct-13 15:52:09

Are these fundamental differences you both have just money related? You say you've tried counselling, so I am guessing there is more involved.

I am a bit like your husband, I will not pay those extortionate prices at the cinema! I am a saver and I manage our home finances. I would not be able to sleep at night if I had debt issues, no savings, etc.
Would you prefer your husband to be a spender and gambler? I don't think so.

Having said that, it is unacceptable that after 15 years you do not know how much he earns. Crazy. It seems that you were happy from the start to have separate finances though.

Preciousbane Thu 10-Oct-13 15:57:29

I always get three quotes, that is sensible and I also won't buy anything I consider over priced so could be deemed a bit tight. However DH and I are on the same page and it is equal it obviously isn't in your household. I never knew how much my ex earned, I agree that is a very bad sign.

Jux Thu 10-Oct-13 16:13:38

We used to get 3 quotes, but still didn't always get the best value for money. Now we just go with the guys we know.

I do think that your h is now worried about how much this is going to cost and effect it will have on his long term life, ie, pension etc. He probably hadn't really thought about it before.

I would get copies of financial documents if you can, just in case things get dirty.

olgaga Thu 10-Oct-13 16:13:45

Yes I would draw the line at no sweets AT ALL! But 3 quotes is wise, CheckaTrade etc - there are way too many rip-off merchants.

But all this is by-the-by. If he's a miser who is always watching the pennies and takes the fun out of life, rather than being careful for a reason (ie making sure you have a fantastic family holiday/home improvements) then you're probably better off apart.

It is so interesting how as you get older you often retreat into behaviour which stems from childhood. So my ex did come from a family which was hard up despite both parents working, so he used to be very careful with money. He preferred to buy less and expensive. I became quite a spendthrift - not into debt - but if I saw something that I liked I bought it. Truly a dreadful habit and 1 I am now trying to break. My ex was quite mean spirited though, so he was tight with money but also time, affection, internal generosity. Until of course the OW came on the scene and he has splashed on her and her family. We have fought bitterly for the last 2 years about money during our divorce. But some of what your stbex does seems OK to me - eg 3 quotes for a job, no sweets at the cinema. But if you do have large assets between you and you are looking for spousal maintenance and pension you will need a good lawyer by the sounds of it. My barrister was fab smile

Cabrinha Thu 10-Oct-13 17:11:30

The examples you give sound fine to me, really.
Getting 3 quotations is sensible, and free! With trade work, it's not like checking the price of a TV in 3 shops to save a fiver - they can be really different, and often it's work that you don't even have a ball park figure in mind for as it's often one off work you've never done before.

I'm lucky to be able to afford some cinema sweets treats - but I generally don't because (a) they're really expensive and (b) I want my daughter to think about prices, and also to know doesn't get something every time. It's about teaching her to make choices wisely, not me being miserly.a magazine OR a hair band, not both.

And I respect him for paying lots into his pension. You have to have a life too, but when you're 70 and able to afford to fly to see your child who moved to Australia, bet you'll be glad he prioritised pensions, and your share from it!

I guess what concerns me is the revelation about his earnings, but you haven't said what they are, if you've really struggled, if he has been spending more than you, if you've ever asked what he earns.

I'm not ruling out that he's a controlling arse, I don't know. But I don't think you can complain at not knowing his earnings if you just never bothered to ask - and if you've never expressed dissatisfaction with your share.

Cabrinha Thu 10-Oct-13 17:26:21

I've re-read, and tbh, I'm confused.
You have my sympathy re marriage ending - that's so hard.

But you said he recently said what he earned - so he doesn't sound secretive, just you never asked before? Also, I don't mean this unkindly, but you then said that only hit you when solicitor broke it down. So - do you not have much interest? If so, you can't blame him for you not previously having a handle on it. That sounds like maybe you're not so aware of things like how tax efficient his pension saving is. Did you know, for example, that at 55 (and it was previously younger) you can get a lump sum out if your pension early, tax free? It can be a great way to save - sensible, not miserly.

And your comments about giving up wordly goods for love... I don't want to be harsh, because your distress is palpable. But that statement is meaningless. He doesn't have that choice. Giving the whole pension fund to charity won't make you love him. Well - maybe a bit, but not enough!

I was concerned about my financial situation on divorce. In fact I proposed lower than I would probably get, personal reasons. I've actually lost money overall from being married, if I look at it objectively. I'm aware of that. I'm just a financially aware person.

Get lawyered up, you'd be a fool not to. But don't mix up emotions here. He hasn't chosen money over you, he doesn't (seem to) care about money more than he ever cared about you. Try to approach this totally logically - it'll be easier for you than the upset.

Doughnut123 Thu 10-Oct-13 18:21:48

Thanks you to all of you for your wise words. It's hard to explain a situation like this briefly, without sounding like I am the one obsessed with money! I really am not materialistic, buy a lot of clothes etc from charity shops and work for a charity. I went to Africa to work as a volunteer recently-what an eye opener that was
Such poverty and so many problems- 1 in 4 has HIV and the life expectancy is 37. There are thousands of orphans.
It put everything into perspective. I came back and just found our life style here hard to deal with. We have so much, but we always want more.
It made me want to sell everything and give the money to orphanages out there.
I think some of what I wrote may have been misinterpreted. What I find upsetting is that he is the person who, supposedly, still 'loves,' me, yet his biggest trauma seems to be over the money. There is no emotion.

I know divorce is an expensive business , but I'm not the type to take him to the cleaners. I just want the children provided for.
The thing with his salary, is that he's not deliberately deceitful. He had told me what he earned, but I don't see what is in the account, so although he says all that he earns is ours, it never feels that way. It just feels like a lack of trust. I'm not the kind to splash out on designer clothes, hate waste and recycle/up cycle as much as I can.

If it was just his anal attitude to money, maybe I could deal with it, but there are many other things that I can't forgive him for. He has abandoned me in my hour of need, to go cycling, when he knew that I was almost suicidal
He is in love with his bikes and spends thousands on them, yet was refusing to get the floor fixed to stop slugs coming in through the floor boards, because he didn't want to spend the money, because we're moving! Considering the house isn't even on the market yet, that would be another winter to come down to slug trails or, worse, stepping on one!
I completely agree with all of you re the cinema prices for sweets. It is outrageous and we should all just take our own.
However, with him, it just becomes another little niggle. He did get them some sweets, to share, so he's not being totally awful. It's just that he works such long hours and hardly sees the children apart from weekends, that when he does something nice like this, it can be spoiled by his quibbling, then me getting fed up with it.

I also agree that the getting 3 quotes is sensible, but, for me, it always feels like he doesn't trust me to get someone decent through word of mouth or Checkatrade. It's another aspect of what I feel is control.
I also in no way think any of you are misers!! When you don't have much, of course, every penny counts.

My definition of a miser is someone who has money, but finds parting with it difficult, so please don't think I think you're tight!

I also have a much more 'live for today,' attitude, because both my parents are dead and I just think that life is for living.
And, while I know that pensions are sensible, sometimes we don't reach pensionable age. Of course, we need a pension, but I see my pensionable years working out in somewhere like Africa, living on a small amount, but having a richer and more worthwhile life helping people.

Suzuetwo, thank you for your advice. He earns £120,000- an absolute fortune by most people's standards. And I think you're right, he's putting the £ sign in front of everything. He said he would be, 'in the shit,' if we didn't sell the house, because he wouldn't be able to afford somewhere decent. We have about £65,000 to pay on the house. I think, as you say, he has retreated into money because that's where he has control.

Thank you to all of you

Spiritedwolf Thu 10-Oct-13 19:20:50

I think you have a point OP, that his comment about what you'd be entitled to IF you got divorced could give the impression that a. he'd consider not getting divorced in order to 'keep' his pension to himself and b. that he sees that money as 'his' not the familys and may well have continued being mean well into his retirement.

I am a also a bit hmm at whether his division of the household finances previous to this was at all fair. Its one thing being careful with money, its another thing being controlling, making you feel bad about spending small amounts and squirrelling the money away for himself. If it is family money then you should have been consulted about what sort of amount was being held back for savings etc. Yes, cinema sweets are overpriced, and its best to take cheaper ones in, but I can imagine how much it would grate on me if someone for whom it is pocket change was so mean about a one off treat. None of the things sound awful on their own, but if this is what you were living with all the time I can see where you are coming from.

He has realised that whilst married he was able to be controlling and unfair, keep you on your toes about money, but going through divorce he is losing that control as your soliciter will be arguing for your fair share and fair provision for the children.

I can understand your reaction to visiting Africa - that you realise how well off you all were even though you were told to watch every penny, but I don't think you can expect him to give away all his worldy possessions either.

Good luck, hope your lawyer is a good'un smile

Doughnut123 Thu 10-Oct-13 22:01:50

Thank you Spiritedwolf ( love the nick name!). I was never expecting him to give everything away, that would be completely unrealistic.
He is a good person and he has been putting a lot of the money into savings. He is extremely shrewd with his money and I am hopeless! But I don't get into debt or anything. I'm not financially minded, which makes a big difference. I have let him take control of the money. I suppose, when you're heading for divorce, you start to really look at everything, and question it.
Why didn't I make the effort to be more interested in our finances? He has explained thing to me, to be fair, but I think I've been so bogged down with looking after the children and having lots of health problems, that I was lazy.
Now I think, why didn't I assert myself more? But at the time, I was struggling to keep my head above water.
I feel guilty for talking about him like this, but sometimes you need some objective opinions. And some very frank ones that make you think.
It's such an emotional thing, so nothing is ever black and white.
Thank you to everyone who has sent messages. I value your thoughts.

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