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Wife is in so much debt

(180 Posts)
DesperatSte Fri 22-Feb-19 10:29:37

I've just found out, that via a number of credit cards and loans on items, my wife has nearly £40,000 of debt I didn't know about.

I was led to believe the cards were under control, paid off and generating cash back.

It turns out that after the money we share for joint expenses, everything each month goes to making the minimum payments and more is constantly being borrowed to do this - her monthly take home pay is less than what is needed to clear this.

I have inadvertently been paying for food and treats for both of us for weeks, which is how I I found out about this when she could not take it in turns or split costs. There is nothing in her current account and she has had to take built up cash (more than she contributed herself) from the account we pay our bills from to cover charges made by her bank.

I have some savings and she's talked about using these to pay things down so that the interest is not as high. Am I selfish not to want to do this? I can see it being swallowed up and if the spending continues, we will be worse off. I'll also need it, as it seems she has no income left and I'll be subsidising her living.

LellowYedbetter Fri 22-Feb-19 10:32:28

I could t live with all that debt personally and she’s been dishonest with you about it which makes it even worse. I’d LTB

userschmoozer Fri 22-Feb-19 10:32:45

Yanbu to want to keep your savings but the way you talk about money and subsidising her is weird.

You need some urgent debt management advice and you need to do that as a couple. People need to learn to manage money. It isn't an innate skill and its not taught in schools.

Forgotmycoat Fri 22-Feb-19 10:33:29

What has she been spending on? The deceit would be the dealbreaker for me.

Yanbu to not want to use savings to pay off her debts. My stbxh had huge debts and i helped pay them off for years. I'm so glad to be free of him and his debts.

lifebegins50 Fri 22-Feb-19 10:36:21

There is a saying "you don't fix money issues, with money"..o don't pay off the loans without her taking responsibility.

How is your wife reacting to her debt? It would be a deal breaker for many people since it's the loss of trust and lying that must have been happening in the background.

She needs to take ownership for the resolution, there are free debt advice companies and also moneysavingexpert has forums to give advice.

There are 2 strands when you discover this extent of debt. Practical for clearing the debt but also rebuilding the relationship (if possible) from this level of deceit.

MRex Fri 22-Feb-19 10:36:22

How on earth did she get into £40k of debt? She sounds utterly irresponsible, I'd struggle to share my life with somebody like that. At the very least she needs to understand how much she's fucked up, be planning to pay it all off and saying unprompted that she doesn't ever want to borrow money again after that.

I'm sorry for you, because either way you're about to lose your savings. Long term you're better to cut and run now than see how much debt she'll run up next year after you've paid off this lot.

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Fri 22-Feb-19 10:38:00

You must have realised you were both were living a lifestyle that couldnt be accounted for.

I'll be subsidising her living. thats what married couples do

DesperatSte Fri 22-Feb-19 10:41:10


What do you mean it's weird? I agree I'd rather not be doing it, but really can't see an alternative. From looking at the numbers, absolutely everything is spent paying minimum costs on the cards. It has got to the point that she has absolutely nothing to spend on our household, which simply means I have to pay for it all and share.


I can't see exactly where it's gone! Lots of general clutter and clothing.

LellowYedbetter Fri 22-Feb-19 10:42:02

If this was a woman saying her husband had ran up £40k of debt and lied about it leaving the wife to subsidise him everyone would be calling him all the bastards under the sun and asking “have you left him yet?” Etc

Widowodiw Fri 22-Feb-19 10:42:27

Erm no you need to keep your savings for emergencies.
This is not an emergency this is something that she got herself into. She needs to commit to cutting up all cards straight away.

What has she spent it on? Did you not notice?

Isleepinahedgefund Fri 22-Feb-19 10:42:38

Getting into that much debt is much easier than you think actually, especially if you are borrowing more to pay min payments! And at this juncture it's not as important as finding a solution.

I certainly wouldn't use your savings to pay it off, as there is a very good chance she will do the same again. As she has hidden it from you, I would imagine she may do again.

If she is using credit to pay credit, she is well and truly insolvent and an intervention is needed whether it be bankruptcy or DMP.

DesperatSte Fri 22-Feb-19 10:43:01


Actually no, I'm not living a lifestyle that can't be accounted for.

Fiveredbricks Fri 22-Feb-19 10:43:20

Ltb. You will get dragged down with her and your own credit too. She doesn't want to tackle it, otherwise she'd stop spending and sort it out.

Fattymcfaterson Fri 22-Feb-19 10:44:54

OK, OP. Do you want to salvage this situation?
If so she needs to come cleans on all debt. Check her credit file.
Then you both need to sit down and work out how this can be paid back. Cut up the cards obviously. Call providers and see if you can get interest frozen.

Or, you leave. The deception is huge, I don't know if I could cope with it.
But, if you do want to stay with her then you need to work together to solve this

Barrenfieldoffucks Fri 22-Feb-19 10:45:39

The biggest thing here is what you want to happen with regards your marriage. If you are prepared to move on from this as a couple, then yes, sitting down and balancing savings Vs interest is the most sensible thing to do as a team.

If you're not going to get over/past this, then a harder line is fine.

PalmTree101 Fri 22-Feb-19 10:47:52

I wouldn't stay in a partnership with someone who is so completely irresponsible with money and deceitful - debt is a big fat red line for me

What the fuck was she thinking?

SureTry Fri 22-Feb-19 10:49:05

I wouldn't use your savings to bail her out, if you do, she'll never learn to budget and she'll feel the harsh realities of spending recklessly. Personally I couldn't stay with someone who amassed that amount of debt, especially if it was on trivial things and not an extension on a property.

TheVanguardSix Fri 22-Feb-19 10:49:56

At the risk of offending, is she possibly bipolar?
My brother's wife is, as is my friend's wife. The debt incurred by both in each of their marriages has been astronomical and it's not uncommon at all for those with bipolar disorder to go on absolute spending benders, buying stuff they don't need.

40k is a lot of debt! Over what period of time has she accumulated this debt? And what exactly has she been buying? What have your conversations around this been like? How long have you guys been married?

GirlsBlouse17 Fri 22-Feb-19 10:50:27

My ex DP always had us in debt and had lots of hidden store card accounts and all sorts. She stole £4k from her grandmother. Hence her being ex DP

eddielizzard Fri 22-Feb-19 10:50:57

Trust is broken. Is she being completely open and honest now? Can she account for how she's racked up this much spending? How is she going to stop it happening again?

grinningcheshirecat Fri 22-Feb-19 10:53:04

Does she own jewelry that she can sell to get the debt down?

Darkstar4855 Fri 22-Feb-19 10:53:33

If you want to help her get some debt management advice and look at consolidating the debt, getting interest frozen etc. She will never clear the debt if she’s only making the minimum payment.

I don’t think you should use your savings to bail her out as you may need this money in the future. However you can give her practical and emotional support to sort the situation out herself. And yes, you probably will have to pick up some of her share of the bills but I think this is reasonable as long as she’s doing what she can to clear the debt.

Assuming you are a homeowner you should also check whether any if the debt is secured on the house.

Quartz2208 Fri 22-Feb-19 10:53:49

Ok is this:

she has been overspending and being reckless with money


You want everything to be 50/50 and in order to fund that she has needed credit card debt

or more likely somewhere in the middle. At the moment I see no signs that you are a partnership communicating with each other

This needs good communication and understanding going forward and being a partnership with money

TimeIhadaNameChange Fri 22-Feb-19 10:54:07

If I were in your shoes my actions would depend on hers. If she is willing to contact people like StepChange and commit to dealing with the debt, going bankrupt if necessary, then I would stick by her and do everything I could to help (though that would not, necessarily, mean using my savings to clear it). She would have to be willing to seek professional help and actually do so.

If not then I would leave. Matters won't improve and, even if you were to pay off what she owes it would not surprise me if the debt built up again.

I have been in a similar position to you, except I knew about it from the start. DP handed me all the paperwork relating to the debts, accepted help from professionals and got through it. He also gave me the reins of our finances. It meant like I felt I was being financially abusive at times, but it was the only way to get through it.

A friend, knowing about our situation, wanted me to help him through his debts. In the same breath he bragged about not having paid taxes for years, and wasn't this clever of him. I walked away. I was not up for helping someone cheat the system.

grinningcheshirecat Fri 22-Feb-19 10:54:24

I don't think that you should bail her out. I think that she should sell everything she has and take an extra job. She got into this mess, she shouldn't get an easy out.

Darkstar4855 Fri 22-Feb-19 10:54:29

A Debt Management Plan might be a good option:

PookieDo Fri 22-Feb-19 10:54:29

Is your house at risk due to this?
I would get advice ASAP as to how bad this really is. You can’t allow her to just ignore it anymore

And no you shouldn’t pay out of your saving especially if she isn’t even looking at going into an IVA or doing anything about it!

SpacePenguin Fri 22-Feb-19 10:55:10

I'm so sorry your family are going through this. You'll probably find that the actual spending wasn't that much, but the amount of interest and charges she'll have added to cards and bank accounts on the slippery slope to where she is now. It's immoral.

So many people have been in the same situation as you. And as your wife. It's a horrible place to be. The forum at money saving expert will give you invaluable information.

First step write to each creditor. Say you're having financial difficulties and ask them to freeze interest and charges.

Second step. Get all paperwork together and call a debt management advice charity like Step Change.

Third step. Have an honest conservation about your lifestyle. You've been living beyond your means as a family - why? What's important to keep spending on and what's not?

Final point, I know it feels like a betrayal but your wife didn't set out to lie to you. I'm sure if you talk openly, you'll find that she thought she could get it under control. She was ashamed. She didn't want to worry you. She didn't want you to think your lifestyle had to change. She's probably been under enormous stress trying to stay afloat the past few months. Now she has to face your anger/disappointment/frustration. It's going to be tough for both of you, but it doesn't necessarily spell the end.

notapizzaeater Fri 22-Feb-19 10:58:20

She's not the first and she won't be the last . Has she anyway of generating more income - 2nd job, overtime ?

Have you seen everything ? I'd get her to check your credit reports online to make sure.

JasperKarat Fri 22-Feb-19 10:58:55

Can she considered them in anyway? Might help her avoid interest. Or if you have good credit can you get an interest free credit card or low interest loan and put £15-20k on that so the payments are chasing the debt rather than interest and charges. DH had gotten himself in a bit of a pickle and defaulted on a cc before we lived together, he was self employed and ended up having to take his biggest contractor to court for non payment (different scale it was £1200 he defaulted on) , I paid the £1200 on an interest free credit card and we agreed a set amount he'd pay back each month, he was retraining for a different career by this point so his income was lower. He paid it off in a year, we had a serious chat about financial management and the impact of bad credit and we day down and worked out a monthly budget. This was years ago and he now saves and has excellent credit, he just needed a leg up out of a hole he got himself into by burying his head.

Before considering any of that though you need to know where the money had been going because she can't get out of the mess if she keeps spending

JasperKarat Fri 22-Feb-19 10:59:38


Takethebuscuitandthesink Fri 22-Feb-19 11:00:00

You need to make clear she is in the dog house and that you are furious. But that you love her and are willing to work through this. I see the “LTB NOW!!!!!” brigade have joined the thread but this is rearely the right advice. In future make clear you want to see her finances. I know this is a tough situation op but with your love and support she can make her way through this. Good luck.

LellyMcKelly Fri 22-Feb-19 11:01:23

If you can’t account for if by difference in lifestyle then what on earth is she spending it on? Is she a hoarder or does a have a gambling problem? Until you find out the cause of the spending you’ll. struggle to identify strategies to overcome it. And no, don’t bail her out.

category12 Fri 22-Feb-19 11:01:54

What has she been spending it on? I think that's the vital question.

If she's been spending it on frivolity, then fine, it's all her fault and she needs to seek help.

If she's been using it to supplement her income to cover unavoidable expenses, the question has to be asked, how is it that she's living beyond her means if you're a team?

WeCameToDance Fri 22-Feb-19 11:02:10

This is so difficult. I think I would have to leave as I wouldnt believe that they wouldnt do the same thing again the minute the debt gets under control.
A family member got himself in around as much debt as your wife has and hid it from his wife until he had to come clean. They got it under control, contacted Stepchange and negotiated payments. He has now taken out another secret credit card and maxed it out on top of the other two credit cards he has access to that his wife knows nothing about.
Basically I think what im trying to say is if she just sees it as a problem to solve to get the bank of her back and not as the catalyst for learning to be better financially she may well do it again. Start by obviously cutting up the cards. Contact all the relevant organisations, stepchange and christians against poverty come up a lot and make a manageable plan from there.

myhamsteratefreddiestarr Fri 22-Feb-19 11:04:19

OP, my XH did this to me, built up debt behind my back. I repaid it for him and he did it again. It nearly split us up at the time because I couldn't deal with the betrayal, and he couldn't see that he had done anything wrong hmm.

If you bail your wife out, she WILL do it again. People who spend like that don't just stop. She needs to get professional help and you need to tackle the problem together.

A company like Stepchange would help her to work out some sort of repayment plan.

You should support her with getting help, but you should not repay her debts.

You also need to take full control off all the money, including her salary and she just gets a set amount of spending money each week. She needs to cut up all cards so that she doesn't have access to any credit.

She needs to get into some sort of plan, so that her credit is cut off.

MadAboutWands Fri 22-Feb-19 11:07:13

Unfortunately they are not HER debts but YOURS together.

So you will have a way to solve that issue together, incl how to keep those debts under control (and it building anymore of them!)

You CAN consider that those debts reach of trust, refuse to pay for them and even decidethe separate butbthe bottom line is that you will be part of the repayment oneay or the other.

I do agree that just using savings you have isn’t good enough. She needs to eep those debts under control and that starts wth taking responsibility for them.

hellsbellsmelons Fri 22-Feb-19 11:07:18

This would be a deal-breaker for me.
£40K - HTF did that happen?
Please keep your savings.

I'll be subsidising her living. thats what married couples do
Yes - when times are tough. You share equally.
Not in a situation that could have been avoided and is all down to the other person.
This is like gambling. She is probably addicted to shopping.
She needs to prove to you over the next 6 months that she is not taking on any more debt.
That she is committed to paying it off.
Only then, when she has shown she has come control can you help her.
Otherwise everything will be gone and she will carry on.
She will have had no consequences and so will keep going down this path.
I feel she may need some counselling to understand why this is happening.
During her commitment to change and pay back the outstanding monies, she will need to sell off a lot of the stuff she has bought.
Have a look at what has some value and can be sold.

Charliesdarling Fri 22-Feb-19 11:11:27

Too true LellowYedbetter . Good point.

WTFIsAGleepglorp Fri 22-Feb-19 11:13:00

Protect yourself.

Financially disassociate yourself from her debts.

Do not help her out.

She must help herself.

She must get in contact with StepChange and sort through how much she owes, cancelling or freezing cards, contacting the credit card companies and setting up payment plans.

She must account for the money.

Jaxhog Fri 22-Feb-19 11:13:53

Whist I agree that the solution needs to involve you both, it appears your wife cannot be trusted to manage her money wisely and has put your family into serious debt. She needs to understand that she has jeopardised your whole family.

I hope she's now cut up her credit cards. If not, then you need to do so.

You need to sit down together and work out a way to pay these debts off. This will have to include a sharp cut back in her personal spending. She got herself into this mess, and needs to feel the pain of getting out of it. Has she bought herself expensive clothes or such that can be sold? If so she should be doing that. Only you can decide whether this is enough of an emergency to dip into your savings. Get some debt advice if needed.

Then sit down with her and ask her calmly how she got into this mess and why she didn't feel she could tell you until the situation had got so bad. Be prepared to listen. Don't get angry, although I can see why you might feel this way. Your aim should be to find out the cause so you can stop it from happening again.

Uptheapplesandpears Fri 22-Feb-19 11:17:24

Oof. How on earth has that happened? Do you jointly own the home?

SlothMama Fri 22-Feb-19 11:18:44

I'd sit her down for a chat, I'd want her to cut up all of her credit cards. Then I'd make a spreadsheet listing all of the cards and debt on each of them. Can she take out a loan to pay off some of the debt? Then move as much of the debt as she can to an interest free card, which is then to be cut up so she can't use it.

If she refuses to do that I'd leave her personally, I wouldn't want her debt saddled onto me.

PCohle Fri 22-Feb-19 11:21:30

Isn't there a good chance some of her debt is already saddled on to him? The way debt is divided up on divorce is complicated but debts run up by one party during the course of a marriage can be seen as a joint responsibility in some circumstances.

I think you need urgent legal advice OP. Leaving your wife may well not allow you to walk away from her debts.

ThumbWitchesAbroad Fri 22-Feb-19 11:22:07

My mother was a bit like this.
My father bailed her out once, then again, then again. Not to the tune of what you're saying but still a lot of money.

What I'm saying is that she'll do it again; and if you make a draconian statement about it, she'll hide it from you again.

I couldn't live like this and I would want to see her cut her credit cards up to avoid this happening again - but there will be plenty of people who say that is wrong and infantilising (and they're probably right, but the woman can't be trusted to NOT spend money).

My sister is like my mum - spends money she doesn't have, puts it all on credit and then wastes an enormous amount of money on interest and bank charges.

I would only bail her out on condition that she has no more credit cards and that you have control of the majority of the finances, with her having a monthly allowance (again, infantilising but she's already shown herself to be utterly fucking irresponsible with money). I would try to help purely because it would burn me so much that the money was going into a vast black hole of interest and bank charges, rather than paying off the actual debt.

But I agree with trying to recoup some of the money by selling stuff that isn't necessary.

Icedlatte Fri 22-Feb-19 11:22:23

Hi op, what a shock for you.

I was living a perfectly nice life until one day I found out my DH had £38k of secret debt. He had also been leaning on me to pay for everything, and (although it took me and solicitors a long time to unravel it all) he had effectively lied and siphoned money out of what should have been the family funds which was now lost in the debt hole.

Ultimately throughout our marriage I had worked full time (as had he) but now all the money I had earned was gone, without me opting in to the usage of it.

I couldn't get past the deceit, and also my DH was looking to me to fix his mistakes, rather thankfully taking responsibility and action to fix it himself. I couldn't trust we wouldn't find ourselves back there again.

We got divorced, it was declared unreasonable behaviour and financial abuse, and we were divorced with a clean break clause within a year - which means I am in no way liable for his debts.
The court also ruled he should pay me £20k as a settlement, to pay back money he had 'taken' from the family pot.

I hope you can work through it together, but if not, there are options

Cornishclio Fri 22-Feb-19 11:22:23

I can understand you are angry and feel betrayed. Presumably you keep your finances separate. Has the debt accrued due to buying unnecessary things or childcare costs etc or is she on low income and got into a debt spiral due to paying for food etc?

I would go through a budget with her and work out a way to pay the debt off. If you use savings to pay off the most expensive debt she has to replace those savings. I hesitate to say it is all her fault as if there is a disparity of incomes and she is having to cover half the household costs on a much lower income that is not fair you have a lot more disposable income. She should have said that ages ago though before the debt got to £40k. I think the cards need to be cut up

AnnaMagnani Fri 22-Feb-19 11:22:49

How has this built up?

Have you also responsibility in that you have been enjoying the stuff she is buying without a thought about if it is affordable? Have you been insisting on being 50:50 when actually your incomes are 70:30 and she just couldn't keep up?

If you are married, you are a team and that is in finances too. It rings alarm bells with me that you see this entirely as her problem to fix as if you had nothing to do with it at all - more than likely you did.

RomanyQueen1 Fri 22-Feb-19 11:24:16

I don't understand how a couple can live like this. It's weird, tbh.

TatianaLarina Fri 22-Feb-19 11:24:30

Do you have kids, if not I’d be out of there.

Stepchange + debt plans, if you have property to sell she can pay back debt out of that when you split up.

Iggly Fri 22-Feb-19 11:25:36

Do you have children?

Are the costs of the household split fairly between you?

I know some married couples with kids where the husband earns all or more than the wife. The wife is expected to fund way more than is equitable eg childcare costs, household costs when the husband is benefiting from the wife covering child sickness etc.

So can you explain a bit more?

HariboBrenshnio Fri 22-Feb-19 11:26:43

The best thing she can do is get onto step change and with their help apply for an IVA. This means her creditors will be asked to stop charging interest and a plan will be set up to pay of the debt. A friend of mine did this and went from paying over a £1000 a month to pay min payments to £200. Step change are brilliant - if you call them there's no judgement and just help.

I'd try get that sorted and then look at the lies and how this happened. Some big conversation are needed.

RB68 Fri 22-Feb-19 11:26:53

I think much depends on what the money was spent on - if its stuff for the family and you were aware it was being bought you are jointly culpable in that you should be aware of all finances and whether or not it can be afforded. e.g. I have 20 grands worth of cc debt at the moment. DH is aware of it but "forgets" about it and acts shocked next time I remind him when he wants to blow 300 quid on glasses which incidentally he wants to put on said credit cards!! We have been on seriously reduced salary for a couple of years and it has meant that food (ie essentials) school meals, uniform and shoes have all gone on the card as there was no excess after basic bills.

I think its more a case of you need to sit down, agree a way forward - ie look at the debts and what they were spent on, look at how some money can be recouped, look at options for refinancing and payback of the debts and either cut the cards up or place them in the freezer for emergencies (but make sure numbers etc aren't stored elsewhere)

Go and look for how to paydown debts. I suspect two things - a spending habit and that potentially many of the debts are about family spending etc.

You need to give her support to sort this out and if after giving her that chance its not working then look at other options.

I would suggest getting all the paperwork out and sorting out what is owed where and at what rates.

Work out what all the min payments are as well.

If the minimum payments are not manageable you have a couple of options - rolling the debt into loans and paying back (it will be less expensive interest wise to do this) or phoning the companies and asking about a plan to repay and freezing of interest - some will work with you on this.

Further if you are asking her to contribute equally to the marriage costs then consider relooking at this if it is clearly unaffordable for her if her salary or work hours are lower. This may also have been some of the root of the debt (she is trying to keep up with you). You clearly have far more disposable income than she does after the payments into the joint account. Marriage is a partnership and needs to be fair overall not just equal financially.

Meretricious Fri 22-Feb-19 11:27:18

I can absolutely believe this. My husband's ex did something very similar. He was so relieved when they divorced and she no longer had access to the joint account. She's still in debt 20 years later despite him leaving her mortgage free. Debt free and with high maintenance costs. And theres nothing to show for it. She literally just buys lots of cheap stuff. He's still bailing her out.

NannyRed Fri 22-Feb-19 11:28:04

What you do to help your wife will depend on how much you love her.
You can help pay off her debts then take time to help her learn how to manage money or you can make her take another job solely to use the wages from that to pay her debts or you say “you’ve deceived me too much, I want to end this marriage “

Are the debts from before she knew you or from overstretching her credit cards to pay for your wedding or home improvements? Because if she has been subsidising your lifestyle to keep you happy, that’s completely different to if she has been spending money gambling.

Do you still see yourself together in five years? Because if you do you will help her.

I’d not dump my husband if I found out he was in debt.

Al2O3 Fri 22-Feb-19 11:28:38

If this was a woman saying her husband had ran up £40k of debt and lied about it leaving the wife to subsidise him everyone would be calling him all the bastards under the sun and asking “have you left him yet?” Etc

Yes but this is Mumsnet, so you have to make special allowances for the fact that many posters prefer to see women treated differently to men.

SpanielEars070 Fri 22-Feb-19 11:29:38

You make her cut all of her cards up, and do a credit search together so there are no more secrets. Then sell everything that you can on local FB pages or Ebay if it's high value (ie clothes, bags) to reclaim as much back as you are able.

But do not bail her out, she will learn nothing. She pays it back, every penny and until then, you support her with the basics. She could try finding extra work too.

If she won't agree to that, then walk away.

RomanyQueen1 Fri 22-Feb-19 11:30:03

How can somebody be so in the dark about their family finances?
I manage our finances, but dh would soon know if I'd overspent and likewise me with him.
When you are a couple it's family money, not his n hers, you might as well stay single if you feel like this.
I couldn't live with the deceit, but I'd be asking myself why I was so stupid as not to keep my eye on the ball.

clairemcnam Fri 22-Feb-19 11:33:22


I actually came on to say I can't believe people are saying to LTB without knowing what led to this. In your shoes I would want to know why this debt accumulated in the first place. And it is obvious she lied as she did not want you to leave her.

This happened to a friend of mine. She found out her DH had £40k debt she knew nothing about. The reason actually made sense, so no gambling debts, other woman, etc. Just a funeral debt that got out of hand with interest etc. And her DH had hidden it as he was afraid the marriage would end if she found out. They worked through it and are now debt free.
So the most important thing for me would be why this debt had happened.

DesperatSte Fri 22-Feb-19 11:33:58

Thanks for taking the time to reply and sharing some of your experiences.

As I say, I cannot seem to see what the money has gone on. It began with frivolous overspending on hobbies and treats and I think now the issue is the interest and charges.

I can see why some posters are considering that she might have had to xo this to share costs 50/50. We have no children to pay for and there is a negligible difference in our income now - for years she was earning much more than me and only now have I risen to a slightly higher number.

I haven't been living a lavish lifestyle and have certainly not benefited from all this borrowing. There are a few things she has that could be sold, but so far she hasn't really discussed this.

category12 Fri 22-Feb-19 11:34:51

Plenty of people have already said leave, leave her to it, etc. hmm. But never let an opportunity to whatabouttery, eh?

In threads like this, husband or wife, people always ask what was it spent on. Cos it's important.

If it's a bloke spending on a motorbike or a woman buying shoes (to stereotype), then the answers are going to be different than if they were using credit to buy food or stuff the dc needed. OP hasn't said what it's been spent on.

category12 Fri 22-Feb-19 11:35:16


Dontsweatthelittlestuff Fri 22-Feb-19 11:35:26

I have seen plenty of threads on here where a wife has discovered secret debt and no one has raised the question if the household costs were slit equally or she was enjoying the lifestyle this debt gave so therefore she should give all her savings to help out her partner and pay all living costs from now on so their money could service the debt and if he suggested it he would be called a cocklodger and she would be told to LTB.

The lies and leval of debt would be enough for me the end the marriage. His debt was not built up overnight so she has been dishonest for some time and that alone would be a deal breaker for me.

RolaColaAllTheWay Fri 22-Feb-19 11:35:46

Cut up the credit cards and see if you can speak to a debt advisor. Only have cards where the borrowed amount is paid off in full every month, to avoid interest and further debt.

CalmdownJanet Fri 22-Feb-19 11:40:59

I'd be gone, no way would I stay with someone who could run up so much debt on credit cards. It takes a long time, a lot of stupid spending and a lot of lie to get that much in debt. The sheer selfishness and the volume of debt will totally change your life for years to come, no holidays, no spending, watching what she is spending, the wasted interest, subsidising her - and please nobody give me that shit about "that's what marriage is about", subsidising because of different incomes is fine but not because one was monumentally stupid. The last straw would be how quick she expected you to hand over your savings, no way!!

Have you kids? I know that makes this harder, but if I had no kids I'd already be on the motorway out of dodge

NotTheFordType Fri 22-Feb-19 11:41:06

If you intend to split over this, you need proper legal advice, or you could end up saddled with half the debt.

clairemcnam Fri 22-Feb-19 11:42:17

I would not end an otherwise happy marriage over this. I would keep money separate and help her sort out her debt.
But it really depends how much you want to stay married. Only you can decide that.

Senac32 Fri 22-Feb-19 11:44:15

" MadAboutWands Fri 22-Feb-19 11:07:13

Unfortunately they are not HER debts but YOURS together."
Exactly, and if any of her creditors decided to sue you would also be liable. If you're legally married, I don't even think leaving her would absolve you of the responsibility.
So it's urgent, bring it out into the open now, however hurtful for both of you.
As others have said it's a common problem, credit is too easy to get. One of my daughters was a carefree spender, and when at Uni had a big bank overdraft. I was tired of helping her out so rang the bank and told them to stop lending her money. They said , "We can't do that!" They make profit out of it.
Then she met her current partner, who has managed to organise her.
Fingers crossed.

Bumblebeezy Fri 22-Feb-19 11:45:33

£40k is an enormous amount to spend simply on clothes and other treats with nothing much to show for it, and without you noticing. I'd be inclined to wonder whether, as other posters have suggested, the 50/50 division of household expenses don't take into account an imbalance of earnings. Presumably if she has only just reached the end of the rope then she has been using lines of credit to fund regular living costs for some time.

There is a huge amount of information and knowledgable support on the debt focused Moneysavingexpert forum. We used the forum years ago when we wanted to get rid of our own credit cards years ago- brilliant advice there and we blitzed ours in no time by cutting spending to the bone and selling clutter.

Ultimately you are going to need to work as a team to clear it, regardless of whose fault it is, assuming you love your wife and want to stay together. Sit down with EVERYTHING- all her credit card statements, all your monthly bills, the lot- look at where you money is going and look at what needs to change to get back on track.

OftenHangry Fri 22-Feb-19 11:46:09

You need to cut your losses. And by that I mean her. As hard as it is. Many, many debtors like this will just keep sliding back into the debt for no good reason at all.

My father nearly ruined us like this and some debts were still being paid years after his death (different country).

Also she should check if she can get 0% for x months on transfer credit card. Then transfer the current debt there and it will allow for bigger repayments with no interest.

clairemcnam Fri 22-Feb-19 11:46:40

Also the questions about how money is split were perfectly valid. Plenty of women are financially abused. That is not the situation here so not relevant. But if for example a woman with a couple of kids got into debt because she was expected to pay for everything for the kids and had very little money, then debt would be almost inevitable. As I said above, the reason for any debt when a partner builds up debt, matters a lot.
So a partner in debt because they have another family on the side, would be an obvious LTB. A partner in debt because they have bipolar that is untreated (although there would be other obvious symptoms), would be different and you may or may not want to help them get treatment and see if your relationship can get back on track.

ReanimatedSGB Fri 22-Feb-19 11:48:40

If there doesn't appear to be anything much to show, could it be gambling?

MostlyBoastly Fri 22-Feb-19 11:49:50

Are there people who don’t calculate the total sum of their incoming funds every month and work from there? What’s all this my turn/ your turn stuff?

DishingOutDone Fri 22-Feb-19 11:50:38

You need to get debt advice immediately, get off here and ring StepChange they are one of the best. Like other posters I reckon its going to be looking at household income, not just hers and you need to find out if any of the debts are secured against the house. There's no quick fix to this OP, you can't just say she should sort it out. You both need to book a days leave and sit down to talk about this.

You could, as others have said, sell the house and she can pay back the debts out of her equity, if you want to split up. But if you are committed to each other, particularly if you want kids in future, then you need something like a debt management plan.

You need to decide and act.

Iggly Fri 22-Feb-19 11:51:50

I have seen plenty of threads on here where a wife has discovered secret debt and no one has raised the question if the household costs were slit equally or she was enjoying the lifestyle this debt gave

I challenge this assumption on two fronts.
1 - you assume it’s the same posters saying contradictory things. Unless you actually trawl individual poster histories, how can you make this statement? MN is not a cohesive single thought. It’s a collection of people with very different views at times!!
2 - there was a recent thread about a women who’s husband had secret debt. Turns out her head was a bit in the sand about household expenses and she was challenged on this as she put all the blame on her husband.

The reality is a lot of women are financially abused, which is why people are asking for more detail.

OftenHangry Fri 22-Feb-19 11:51:55

Exactly, and if any of her creditors decided to sue you would also be liable. If you're legally married, I don't even think leaving her would absolve you of the responsibility.

That's not correct. If the debts are solely in her name, creditors can't go and take OP's stuff. They can though go after joint accounts, joint mortgage etc.

justasking111 Fri 22-Feb-19 11:53:18

It is very complicated but can be done by transferring debts to another card to reduce payments.

She does need to cut up all the credit cards. As a bankrupt she would not have them anyway.

My friend went down the bankruptcy route because the debt was so huge.

Justaboy Fri 22-Feb-19 11:53:22

DesperatSte Bin there and got that bloody tee shirt!

Gave my now ex a credit card had a 10 grand limit that went in 4 months she thought it was all money to be spent on whatever she liked;!

Learnt my lessonsad

Springwalk Fri 22-Feb-19 11:54:50

Are you both living well beyond your means. £40,000 on clutter and clothing does not sound right. Gambling addiction? Drug addiction? Lost her job and couldn’t tell you? You really do need to sit down and get to the root of where the money has gone.

Based on the reason and the truth, then you need to decide whether you want to stay with her. Or not.

Either way you are married and are a team. Professional help wlll be required.

Yes I would be massively upset, but I wouldn’t end my marriage over this. Unless you feel you can never trust her again. It is possible to get over this with the right help.

Margot33 Fri 22-Feb-19 11:58:01

I think that you should both go and see someone to help contact the credit card companies and work out a repayment plan. She needs to cut up all of her cards as she cannot possibly accumulate any more debt. As her husband I think you 'll have to cut back on treats/holidays if there's only one wage being used. last thing you want is a ccj against the home and the bailiffs turning up. Act now, sort out a repayment plan and cut up her cards.

DesperatSte Fri 22-Feb-19 11:58:42

I understand what people are saying about being joint together financially in a legal sense, but but as I say, we have continued share costs equally, and for the majority of the relationship, I was the lower earner. The money has not been spent on our home, or holidays or anything else for us both. She has taken part in various hobbies, necessitating certain clothing and having what she wanted or the 'best' of something has spiralled out of control. I do believe it to have been stupid and reckless, and can see how easily it can happen, but she has certainly not been forced into this situation because she hasn't had enough for the basics or even any less disposable income than me. She earns plenty and it would seem still chooses to live outside her means.

Hoopaloop Fri 22-Feb-19 11:59:32

Check yourself on Experian to check she hasn't run anything up in your name.

Bumblebeezy Fri 22-Feb-19 12:02:31

Another thing to consider is that whilst £40k of unsecured debt is a huge amount, the context of your earnings matters here too. £5k of debt can be an insurmountable problem for someone on a very low wage, whilst £50k manageable for a couple on high salaries.

Whether this a bankruptcy or a mere 'cut your cloth' situation depends.

Springwalk Fri 22-Feb-19 12:05:08

Do you love her op? You sound very cold when you speak about her. Maybe the issue is the marriage as much as the money

Surfingtheweb Fri 22-Feb-19 12:07:11

No where near as much as this but I have paid off my partners secret credit card dept 3 times.
I am personally really good with money. My advice would be to see if you can't get a loan to consolidate all the dept into 1, sign her up to Noddle & ClearScore & check her credit report each month to ensure no more credit. You can get a 40k loan over 7 years, repay £650 a month, but the interest could be very high. Or contact all creditors, supply a financial statement & see if you can get the accounts & the interest frozen & pay them all off individually.
She should probably see a counsellor or something to work out why on earth she would do something like this!!

PBo83 Fri 22-Feb-19 12:07:26

My advice (providing you want to stay together) is not facilitate or 'bail her out' but do help and support her.

StepChange are good for managing multiple debts and will help arrange an affordable DMP (Debt Management Plan).

My other advice is to have a frank and honest conversation about what she has spent the money on (otherwise the problem will just go in cycles). Being a recovering gambling addict myself I would ask to look at her CC statements and look for signs of this. Let me know if you want and I can tell you what to look for.

Don't use your own money though to help because, asides from it not being your responsibility, it really won't help her in the long run.

Good luck sorting it out.

ElspethFlashman Fri 22-Feb-19 12:07:43

But if there were two salaries and no kids, and she still spent 40k, then her spending must have been monumental!

What steps have you taken so far, OP? Have you cancelled the cards at least? Have you gone back through the credit card statements to check all purchases?

Nomorepies Fri 22-Feb-19 12:09:02

This is such an odd post. How do you really feel? What does your wife say? Apologetic? Remorseful? Is she committed to a repayment plan? Is she willing to cut up the cards and stop spending? What is going to change, why did she keep it from you? Aren’t you angry?

40k seems a huge amount to run up with nothing really to show. That’s not going to be easy to clear. Would you consider couples counselling or some debt advice? You’re going to have to get involved to sort this out but not necessarily with your own money.

Deadbudgie Fri 22-Feb-19 12:09:54

I'm sure that personal debt is exactly that - personal, unless it is out of joint accounts. If you split up different rules apply in the family courts about how that debt is split.

I would sit down, calculate the level of debt, see if you can consolidate it (a personal loan is likely to have much lower interest and repay the loan rather than chasing interest).

Discuss budgeting. Living frugally how much can she actually afford to service these debts. You might need a 5 year plan to sort this out.

Ring creditors and see if she can sort out an affordable repayment plan.

Is you r marriage otherwise good? - this needs sorting before you have any kids.

SaturdayNext Fri 22-Feb-19 12:12:32

Do you want to stay with her? I must say, the deceit and the effective theft from the joint account would be a deal-breaker for me.

flirtygirl Fri 22-Feb-19 12:18:00

I would get her help but if she doesn't take the help or change then I would leave. The deceit may be forgiven if she changes. If not then no, time to cut losses.

This is the exact same advice that I would give if it was a man running uo debt.

I think some posters have stuck the boot in a bit but throughout the thread people have generally advised the same thing that they would have done, had it been a woman asking about her husbands debt.

Pinkyyy Fri 22-Feb-19 12:18:05

I would have to separate all finances from now on. Her main focus needs to be clearing the debt and I would not subsidise any of it.

PlinkPlink Fri 22-Feb-19 12:18:59

Ah yes, she really does need to learn this lesson herself, I'm afraid.

Ignore the posts to the LTB 🙄🙄🙄 sick of seeing that at the first reaction to any bump in the road for a relationship.

If you feel you can move past the dishonesty and work together still, then do so.

I had a debt problem for years really. My DGF bailed me out so many times and so did my then OH. Overdraft, credit card.
It all came to a head when I finally left my ex and quit my job.

I had nothing but credit card bills, payday loans to repay and overdraft fees mounting up.

I pulled my big girl pants on and faced the music. I went on a DMP. Later on, I received some inheritance and I paid it all off.

The aftermath - I'll have a bad credit file for a while but I am proud to say I can manage my money. I don't overspend or spend frivolously. I keep within my means. I now know the true value of money.

Your DW needs to learn this lesson. It's hard but she needs to learn.

For a while, you may want to think about disassociating your accounts with her as, whilst she deals with this, her credit file takes a few hits and consequently yours will too (if they are associated). Potentially, as its such a huge amount, they may end up taking some of your joint belongings which is a bit shit. It may not be as straightforward as disassociating as you're married.

But tell her she needs to learn this lesson on her own. She needs to see the impact of her actions and never want it to happen again.

KrazyKatlady Fri 22-Feb-19 12:20:50

40k sounds a lot if there is not much to show for it but if she's only been paying minimum payments then the interest is probably accounting for most of it.
There was a similar thread a week or so ago where someone found her partner had 21k debt, some of which she was unaware of. It was very long but there was practical advise about debt management in there Op if you have the time to read it.

MontyPythonsFlyingFuck Fri 22-Feb-19 12:24:41

OP, has your wife stopped spending in this way? Because all the conversations about how to manage the situation and pay off the debt are meaningless if she hasn't. It's like mopping up a flood without turning the tap off.

HollyGoLoudly1 Fri 22-Feb-19 12:32:56

Have you contacted Citizens Advice or a debt charity? If much of the debt is interest/charges as you say, there can sometimes be scope for negotiation with creditors if there has already been huge amounts of interest paid. You need to seek expert advice about this.

I would echo other posters however about alarm bells ringing if the spending can't be accounted for. If you don't know what the root cause of the overspending is, then you won't be able to effectively deal with the issue and risk the same thing happening in future. Unless you have quite a lavish lifestyle (and you say you don't) then I agree with other posters that's it's very odd that she can't pinpoint where £40k has gone. £4k I could maybe understand (and even then I'd be worried!) but how can you spend £40k and not have anything to show for it? I would be suspicious. Have you seen the credit card statements etc to see what she has been buying?

Springisallaround Fri 22-Feb-19 12:33:45

Unfortunately they are not HER debts but YOURS together

This is not true. Some of the advice on here is really suspect. If you have joint accounts and a joint mortgage they may be affected, but you do not own someone else's unsecured debts, and if you financially separate from them which I strongly advise you to do, then you won't be responsible for them. My husband had a lot of debts, we closed our joint account and he took the hit on his own credit rating while mine has remained excellent.

Lots of people saying the distrust/leave, I am sympathetic to this but in our case, it really was a case of it just spiralling out of control, the person thinks they are on top of it but it just gets on top of them. As a minimum I would close any joint accounts/credit cards (mortgage is different) and take advice, with your wife, from StepChange on how to get out of this mess. It is doable but may take years. We paid off our debts and I am very glad I didn't collapse the marriage over this, even though it was deceitful, this wasn't typical of the rest of my husband's actions, only this one blind spot of finances. You have to decide if you can live with that, and her being sorry and trying to fix it will be a start.

Springisallaround Fri 22-Feb-19 12:36:29

Also- your credit files can be linked if you are married/share the same address, but my husband's poor credit has never affected me to date, it could though.

You don't have to pay back someone else's debts, though, if they are in their name and unsecured (i.e. not secured against your home). You may choose to do so as part of a debt management plan for the whole family including both incomes (although again they can be run on their own).

FilthyforFirth Fri 22-Feb-19 12:37:27

What is SHE doing to sort it out? Is she sorry, does she want to fix it? You cant do anything for her if she doesnt want to sort things out. Feel sorry for you. I would be livid.

SaturdayNext Fri 22-Feb-19 12:42:55

Unfortunately they are not HER debts but YOURS together.

Absolutely not true, unless any of the credit cards are in joint names. There seems to be this weird perception around MN that on marriage all property is owned jointly and all debts are owed jointly. It just isn't so.

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