Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

Husband's debt

(37 Posts)
reelingwife Fri 19-Jul-13 00:54:43

I'm a long standing lurker bit have nc'd for this. This evening my husband revealed that he is 40k in debt. I'm so shocked, we're together nearly 9yrs (married 4yrs) have two dc 3yrs and 4mths). He's from another country and the debt is from a student loan that he had in his early twenties (now 34) that he was supposed to pay off when he started working. He moved countries for work soon after graduating and according to him "buried his head in the sand" about paying it back. He said it all became too big to tell me but that it's been torturing him for ages that he hadn't told me. He has been in strange form for a few weeks but I put that down to a new baby etc.

Anyway, this evening in floods of tears he told me. Says he feels awful and I believe him. Plans to contact the agency tomorrow regarding starting a repayment plan. So I should feel relieved but I don't...I feel so disappointed and embarrassed. We had been saving for a mortgage for a bigger place and I was delighted that things seemed to be improving financially for us. We had cleared credit cards and a small car loan so I thought we were doing well. I feel strangely empty about the debt itself but am so shocked he kept something so huge from me. All our big financial decisions were made with me thinking I knew where we stood. Feel so ashamed that we're in this position and embarrassed by him. In other respects, he's a loving husband and great father but has a tendency to procrastinate & hide from problems. I feel so conflicted as I know he feels awful but I'm so disappointed. Not realy sure why I'm posting but can't talk to anyone in RL as just so embarrassed.

pollywollydoodle Fri 19-Jul-13 04:41:13

how awful for you..that would completely rock me too.
i'd be wondering what else he has been lying about too...why tell you now, what has happened to prompt it?

Purpleknickers Fri 19-Jul-13 05:10:50

In the wide awake club and your thread caught my eye.
The first thing that struck me was your husband feels awful about all this. I know it has been a huge shock but I feel he has been in denial over this debt for years almost ignoring it and the fact the two of you are now in a better place financially has made him realise there is an elephant in the room and the burden of keeping this from you has become too much.
I work with debts and have done for many years, the amount of people that assume if they ignore a debt it will magically disappear is astonishing

Don't assume there are other secrets. This huge secret is now out in the open. You won't be the first couple to be in this situation and at least he has not turned to drink to deal with the guilt of not telling you.

Put yourself in his shoes for a while, he has been very very stupid but he's confessed now and you can both deal with it together. I know it's pants when you felt life was all rosy but you can either deal with it or decide that the lying is unacceptable to you and deal with that. I wish you luck in whatever you decide.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 19-Jul-13 06:21:04

"has a tendency to procrastinate & hide from problems"

I read that as you saying that his secrecy over the debt is an extreme example of similar 'head in the sand' behaviour. This time the result is blatant deception.... lying by omission... because he's been a coward. If this is a personality flaw that you are finding increasingly annoying - I'm guessing you've had conversations before now about him being more open and facing up to things? - then you'll feel let down. If you're saving for a mortgage, your plans have been ruined. Crucially for your relationship, I think you've lost a lot of respect for him as a man, and you're also annoyed at yourself for not having dug deeper or been more suspicious.

In your shoes I'd be insisting now on full open book from him. Every account, every credit card, every phone contract. In employment terms I think this places him on a 'verbal warning'.... Tears are not enough.

reelingwife Fri 19-Jul-13 07:23:23

Thanks so much for your replies. Polly he said that he had wanted to tell me for ages but I think one of the triggers for finally telling me was he read that the agency that follows up on these debts had begun aggressively following people (beforehand it seems like they wrote off some debts after a certain number of years). He also read a story about someone being stopped as they tried to re-enter the country for a holiday. Said it was one of the reasons that he did not look for a passport from his country for the dc. That's exactly what I felt too-what else had he been lying about? In my heart of hearts, I don't really think he's cheated or lying about other things but then again I never believed that he would have lied about this.

Purple and Cogito thank you for your posts. Yes it is flaw that drives me mad and has done for years. I always knew he wasn't great with money but more flippant with spending than concealing such a huge debt. I am annoyed that I didn't dig deeper and resentful that I have to always be the one worrying about money. It's not even lying by omission-I have asked him about any other debts and he said no. I feel we've negotiated major decisions on uneven terms: e.g. rented out our tiny house and rented a bigger mych mo place when pregnant

reelingwife Fri 19-Jul-13 07:36:55

Sorry the baby posted that before I finished! Rented out a bigger much more exensive place when pregnant with dc2, planned dc2, made job changes, planned for me to go back on reduced hours when I return from this maternity leave. We actually bid on a few house years ago which fell through as we could not sell our own. We had received mortgage approval as his debt was abroad and apparently not traceable.

I know he's mortified and says he will do anything to fix it. I think the idea of a "verbal warning" is a good one. He started talking last night about getting a second job or setting up a sideline business to help pay it off-something he's talked about for years but I feel he needs to be grounded in the real world and make a plan based on his current employment situation and not some aspirational one.

I suppose I have lost a lot of respect for him as a man, I feel less like his wife and more like his parent. Thanks so much for your helpful replies and apologies for the typos (writing on phone while feeding baby).

Officershitty Fri 19-Jul-13 08:03:14

If he is from another country I take it the debt was not accrued in the UK? In the UK, you only pay after you start earning a certain amount and I have heard (though it may not be true) that if it is not paid off by retirement age the debt is written off. May be an idea to check out if similar applies in the country he accrued the debt, ie what the terms of the loan were.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 19-Jul-13 08:14:08

" I feel less like his wife and more like his parent"

When you talk to him next, I think the above phrase is key. If you find yourself questioning your future as a couple if it means you're the only one taking responsibility and 'carrying' the family... then lay it out as clearly as that. Pie in the sky sideline businesses, you're right, are not what's needed here. A financial plan based on sound advice, a commitment to rectifying the problem and no more lies.

reelingwife Fri 19-Jul-13 08:29:14

You're right Cogito, I've warned him that things have to change and I need to see his behaviour change as words are empty. He is organising a meeting with a financial adviser and is contacting the debt collection agency today. Officer no, the debt wasn't accrued in the UK (we're not actually based in the UK). He is contacting the agency today to find out terms. Unfortunately my grasp of the language isn't good enough to check it out myself but I've told him I want to know everything.

He needed to talk to someone that knew the situation in his own country so he told his parents last night (not looking for them to bail him out). I heard him crying talking to them (and he never cries) and while I'm glad he told them I feel more embarrassed about them knowing. Such a mess...

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 19-Jul-13 08:40:15

Any embarrassment should be entirely his. There is a whopping great orchestra playing here and it's him that's facing the music.... not you. He's ducked this for a long, long time. He's gone from lying to crying and, quite honestly, he's adding 'pathetic' to his list of faults. Be ashamed of him but don't be embarrassed for yourself. All you've done is taken someone you should have been able to trust on face value and then found out he was lying. That's not your fault.

reelingwife Fri 19-Jul-13 09:06:58

I hear what you're saying Cogito, I think I'm just so shocked that I didn't know. I often read threads like this and was so sceptical about how you could not know but now I'm here too. His mother's reaction was telling too she said that she was afraid that he had never paid it (he previously told them he had). It just feels like I should have known about this side to him, I always thought that his parents thought we lived beyond our means and I never knew where this idea came from but now it seems that they always worried about his financial acumen. Maybe I buried my head in the sand a bit about this and I'm angry with myself about that too. Thanks again, I normally talk issues through with my sister or girlfriends but I just can't stomach the idea of people knowing this about us yet.

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 19-Jul-13 09:20:01

If it's an old debt that pre-exists your relationship and is in a completely different place/country then I'm not sure how you were expected to even guess that it was there. Not unless you ran a full credit check on him and who does that? You asked him a straight question about debt and you got a lie... That's the weak link

reelingwife Fri 19-Jul-13 09:55:53

I know you're right, here university education is free so people fortunately don't usually incur huge debts so it never occurred to me to look into that with him. A credit check does sound like an interesting concept from here on though! Thanks so much, having someone listen to my ranting has really helped. I was very calm with him last night and think it hasn't fully hit me yet. Waiting to hear what the agency said to him this morning. Thanks again

pollywollydoodle Fri 19-Jul-13 14:02:44

lots of great advice from cogito
I wouldn't trust him yet and would be wanting a translator to help me understand any calls/documents about finances
As the loans predates your getting together and he has lied about it,i would also be tempted to really make him face up to it... to have him draw up a pay back plan, in which he rather than you and the rest of the family takes the brunt of it by eg working more/spending less on hobbies/car/socialising.

good luck thanks

34DD Fri 19-Jul-13 14:31:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GingerJulep Fri 19-Jul-13 17:30:26

Really glad to read 34DD's post because it is good advice and what this thread was missing.

Whilst it might 'feel' right to encourage DH to come clean to all agencies straight off it may not be the best thing for you/your children.

Not sure what your current location will have in terms of Citizen's Advice/private financial advice but would seriously recommend getting the whole position before a professional if it is in anyway too complex for you to deal with.

34DD Fri 19-Jul-13 18:13:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

reelingwife Fri 19-Jul-13 20:44:12

Thanks for your replies. I appreciate your advice 34DD and Ginger-it's very much what I was worrying about. The debt is a personal student loan which cannot be transferred to a spouse and it dies with the debtor (so maybe that's a thought... wink) Unfortunately he rang them before I saw your message and they have agreed that he can pay €250pm for a 15yr period so we can kiss any idea of mortgage goodbye (extremely difficult to get mortgages here at present). His parents have offered a lump sum to partially pay off the debt from his inheritance and while it's very kind of them, I think he needs to suffer a bit to learn from this experience.

Totally agree Polly that I need to see concrete evidence of a change in his behaviour and that trusting him again will be a gradual process. He's agreed to a complete review of our finances and budgets and has cancelled some trips abroad later this summer to save that money. He's forwarded on all correspondence from the agency but otherwise has been tiptoeing around me all day which was driving me mad but I think wanting to talk about it all day would irritate me too...I think it will take a while to feel calm about this. Thanks for all your advice and support, I did tell my sister and she was great but it's hard to feel so isolated with this.  

pollywollydoodle Sat 27-Jul-13 17:50:36

how are things op?

reelingwife Tue 30-Jul-13 00:06:00

Hi Polly, sorry for slow reply and thanks for asking. All ok, he's making huge efforts with me, kids, everything really but I'm not sure he fully understands how much this has affected how I view him. Has started a savings plan and is repaying loan monthly. PIL have offered a lump sum to pay off proportion of debt, which will be part of his inheritance but even that has irritated me! He has told me that he's relieved that he told me but seems to forget that while this is a huge weight off his shoulders, it's placed a huge weight on mine!

He's working abroad this week so that has given me some headspace. I've realised that while I do love him, it will take a while for him to earn my trust and respect back. Have warned him it's a yellow card (to borrow my FIL's expression) & there won't be a second chance! His parents have been very supportive to me and tough on him so that has helped. Thanks again for your post!

Glowbuggy Tue 30-Jul-13 00:22:09

Holy freaking shit break. What University did he go to to get a student debt of 40K. I hope it was Ivy League!

AnyFucker Tue 30-Jul-13 00:22:46

I hope your husband realises how very, very lucky he is to have you

motownmover Tue 30-Jul-13 00:25:18

Glowbuggy NZ for example charges high interest rates on student debt for people who live overseas but if you live in NZ it is zero interest.

I know lots of people that have accrued 40K student debt and have no way of ever paying it back someone I knew had 70K worth of debt as did 2 degrees.

Glowbuggy Tue 30-Jul-13 00:28:28

Oh my wordy!

Singledad5871 Tue 30-Jul-13 00:41:04

Hi, I came across this post and to an extent I can sympathise with both of you. You will feel a bit betrayed by your DH not telling you about this and it makes your plans feel like they are on shifting sand? But from your husbands point of view - whatever reason it happened because of - he DID open up and let you know, which is an extremely hard thing to do - male pride etc - because there is a stigma attached to debt and such stuff these days still. I used to have an extremely well paid job and unfortunately the more you earn the more you spend - so holidays etc were funded on cards and then cleared when my bonuses came in - unfortunately when that job was lost the level of debt made things very hard, I struggled paying everything for two years before admitting defeat. Now my credit rating is shot but that's all it is - you're husband will have felt embarrassed and ashamed by it and the longer it went on the worse he would feel. He has opened up and did the right thing - yes your plans changed but that's ok - you adapt and adjust them as needed and work through it together. Don't be so hard on him - its best to support each other now - BUT make sure he knows he can't do anything else like it!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now