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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?

everlong Wed 08-May-13 14:09:49

He should not be doing this to you. You are married but he doesn't own you.

I would hate to be in your shoes.

My DH earns good money and I'm sahm we have a joint account. We save some, pay bills and buy what we like. It's ours.

Sorry if you've said but why does he keep a real time spreadsheet? Does he trust you?

claudedebussy Wed 08-May-13 14:10:17

starting your own business is a great idea.

and start doing some investigation. can you get to see his paperwork? start photocopying and hiding copies. you need to start protecting yourself now.

HormonalHousewife Wed 08-May-13 14:10:45

wow I am really shocked if this is true ?!

We have no financial worries at all and a lot of your initial comments resonate with me.

However my DH would never in a million years behave like this. Its not normal and I dont consider you lucky at all.

Spreadsheets are a good idea yes - but to examine and update daily ? wtf?

Could you ever buy him a surprise expensive present ? or could you even spend £2.50 on yourself for a coffee ? or would he have to know every penny ?

Actually I am seriously wierded out by this.

Sorry I meant to be more supportive as I kind of know where you are coming from...

eminemmerdale Wed 08-May-13 14:10:58

It would surely be very hard for her to leave though as any 'different' expenditure or deviation from the norm would show up wouldn't it? Perhaps she is really frightened. (sorry to refer to you as 'she' op). It sounds like it would be impossible to even siphon away a pound.

itsatiggerday Wed 08-May-13 14:11:31

OP I think the telling thing is that you're on here talking about feeling uneasy but seemingly unable to express that to your husband.

If it helps, my parents had a similar dynamic on the surface. Dad handled all the money, Mum didn't work after youngest child was born. Apart from a couple of times in the early years, they were very comfortably off. Mum bought most things on CC as he asked, Dad went through everything each month (cheque book & CC receipts / bank statement) and he preferred that he withdrew the cash because of a fraud that happened a long time ago.

HOWEVER, he gave Mum cash on a regular basis, occasionally because she asked (usually had to only because she'd spent it all rather quicker than normal!) usually, he just said 'here, for when you need it'. He never queried what she'd spent it on - even when it was more in quick succession! - and he definitely hasn't made her feel unable to spend on herself ;-) . I cannot imagine her writing your OP despite the circumstances seeming similar on the surface. The only similar thing is that she has worried about what would happen to all their financial things if something happened to him so he took her through things and showed her where contact numbers and details were overall so she'd be more able to sort things out if necessary.

Basically, I don't necessarily think the exact circumstances are the issue, they work for some people. However it is an issue that you're feeling imprisoned and suffocated by them and that you can't talk to your DH about that. I hope you find a way round that...

dreamingbohemian Wed 08-May-13 14:12:31

How old are your DC?

Could you set up your own business/consulting from home, while they're in school? As a start at least.

garlicyoni Wed 08-May-13 14:15:01

Just looking at the immediate problem, hoping, go and buy a bloody computer. Why the heck should you be asking for a password-protected area of the family computer? Get a lovely new laptop. I'm curious as to why you haven't already.

ExcuseTypos Wed 08-May-13 14:15:43


I may have missed this but have you actually sat down and told him you aren't happy with the arrangements?

hopingforinsight Wed 08-May-13 14:15:54

ok, I have read more posts now and there are some great ideas. I will just buy a computer and password it (gulp). We can afford it and he has no reason to object so if he does then I will know something is wrong....of course, he will say he doesn't understand why I need to have secrets from him and I am making him out to be horrible if I need them.

I will also suggest that £xxx of personal expenditure in the form of cash :-)

For those saying DH is a total shit, what, exactly, has he done wrong? He would say that he just wants to know what we are spending on. It seems so reasonable, but it feels very uncomfortable oddly. Maybe it is because we have almost no emotional relationship any more sad but maybe that is my fault too.

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 08-May-13 14:16:58

BTW folks.... I'm a spreadsheet-keeper and a fastidious logger of expenditure. I don't have to... the Cog cashflow is fairly healthy these days ... but I was once on my uppers and old habits die hard. This isn't about obsessive book-keeping - if his own expenditure was on the spreadsheet for the OP to examine that would be fine - but about issues such as respect, secrecy, contempt and above all control.

garlicyoni Wed 08-May-13 14:17:13

Also, why don't you know how to create your own secure account on the family PC?

CogitoErgoSometimes Wed 08-May-13 14:18:19

What he's done wrong exactly is treat you like the rich man that has a race-horse but no interest in racing. You're an expensive pet to be dressed, observed, monitored but ultimately ignored.

hopingforinsight Wed 08-May-13 14:19:12

Sorry I have to go out now for a bit on the school run and then may be busy. Thank you for all the replies and I will look again tomorrow at everything people have suggested.

garlicyoni Wed 08-May-13 14:20:07

I will just buy a computer and password it ... I will also suggest that £xxx of personal expenditure in the form of cash.

YAY! Well done grin

What, exactly, has he done wrong?

Example: Buying you clothes & jewels is nice. Insisting that he choose them is not nice, it's controlling (in your word, infantilising.) Slagging off the ones you choose for yourself is abusive.

Viviennemary Wed 08-May-13 14:20:28

Well the point is he sees it as his money as he earns it. And after all this time I can't see much hope of changing his views. I think you will just have to put up with the situation as you are able to live in some considerable comfort. Or if it is unbearable then consider leaving and making your own way. Sad that this is all about money. But it is.

HormonalHousewife Wed 08-May-13 14:21:06

Has your DH had financial problems in the past ? started out from nothing ? worried that he could loose it all ?
if that is the case I can kind of see why there is a need to keep a spreadsheet, but it has got out of hand if every last penny has to be accounted for.

Its got out of hand. You need to sit down and chat about how you feel and definitely you need to have £500 that you can spend no questions asked.

dreamingbohemian Wed 08-May-13 14:21:44

It's not unreasonable to want to know where your money is going.

My DH keeps an expenses app on his phone. The difference is that I just tell him when I spend money and what it was on, and he enters it without question. That is very different from not allowing you to have cash, not trusting you to just tell him your expenses, looking at them every day, and criticising you whenever you do buy something for yourself.

None of that is reasonable, honestly. You feel uncomfortable because deep down you know he's not treating you like a person he loves, but like an employee, or someone he doesn't trust or value.

ExcuseTypos Wed 08-May-13 14:23:25

Good OP- you go for it. Buy a computer for yourself. If he asks about "secrets" tell him you haven't got it for that reason, you've got it because you want one and as you're the only person in the house without one, you wanted to treat yourself.

And yes to the cash for each month. Tell him you are his wife and mother of his children and will not be treated like a member of staff anymore.

claudedebussy Wed 08-May-13 14:24:41

you can't buy your own clothes
you can't withdraw cash
you can't keep your most private things private (passwords etc.)
you are not treated as an adult in your own home (expected to be at beck and call of everyone)
no prospect of shared house responsibilities. if you were to work full time you still have to do all housework etc.
you are not in an equal relationship / he is a total shit

have you got a cleaner / housekeeper / someone to help out with the stuff you don't want to do so that you can go and work?

how about studying?

i would start spending CASH. so he doesn't like it? so what.

have you tried talking to him about how this all makes you feel?

i really do think this is financial abuse. to change it would mean getting used to his disapproval. what do you think would happen if you started defying him?

Whowhowhoswho Wed 08-May-13 14:25:20

Hoping - I understand completely.. I am still making excuses as to why I have allowed and still allowing my oh to control everything. I have tackled the situation so many times. He also works very hard and we are financially secure. We jointly own a couple of properties.
I do have a job working from home but its not regular income.
I understand when you said you were g,ad I was in the same position. Of course you didn't mean you are glad I am suffering 2!
All the responses here make sense but When YOU are in the thick of it it's hard to see a way out.
Of course it's not acceptable.and we wouldn't treat our partners like that.
If I wanted to but something large like a computer I would have to discuss and SELL my case to oh. If he wanted one there would be no discussion it would be bought.
I gave my son £10 last week in front of my husband. He went mad saying how dare you give him MY money.its not your cash to give..
I don't know a way out either. Other than to leave which is a possibility if I was brave enough.

Thumbwitch Wed 08-May-13 14:26:01

He is "keeping you" and expects to know how much that is costing him, which is not so much infantilising as treating you as a subordinate human.

I am a SAHM; DH tried similar (but without the close eye on expenditure) and I felt hugely uncomfortable with only having a credit card in his name to buy stuff with. He would give me the occasional $50 note when I wanted cash for stuff and it felt like I was being given "pocket money". Well sod that. So I insisted that I have my own savings account, into which he pays a monthly sum, and then I can withdraw cash as I need it. I still largely use the credit card for most things, but I can buy frivolities and presents and stuff from my own account without DH knowing what they cost.

He doesn't check up on what I use the credit card for but he does pay it off out of the main account, which I made him change from his account to a full joint one (in case anything happened to him, he does a lot of driving). I don't bother to access it, but I could if I needed to.

I couldn't live like you do - and I certainly wouldn't be letting him "choose my clothes" - ugh!

CatelynStark Wed 08-May-13 14:28:36

OP, just reading about your life has made me feel quite ill. God only knows how you can live with this level of disrespect and control! He's really done a number on you, hasn't he? [shocked]

I'm a skint lone parent but I wouldn't swap lives with you for a minute - you're allowing him to treat you like a wayward child.

I find his attitude totally repellant and feel very sorry for you. Please, please find the self respect to break out of your captor's grasp - not necessarily by leaving him, in the first instance, but by putting a stop to this appalling situation.

detoxlatte Wed 08-May-13 14:30:02

If he wants to know what you are spending on, ask him why.

Valid reasons: so we can shop around for a cheaper gas provider, so we can cut back on x to spend more on y, to know whether we are wasting money on random things we don't even know we have.

Invalid reasons: so that I can check up on what you and DC are doing when I'm not at work.

And yes, perhaps this is exacerbated by a lack of an emotional relationship. And no, it probably isn't your fault; it takes too to tango.

Seems to me that as a couple you need to look at priorities: he's too busy making money, you are too busy doing unfulfilling stuff that is leaving you unhappy. Scale back, reassess, actually THINK about your lives together.

Viviennemary Wed 08-May-13 14:31:48

Reading all those posts I am not sure I could tolerate living in those situations where a man provides all the money. I thought it would be the ultimate life married to a rich man who earns a lot. But perhaps not.

sweetestcup Wed 08-May-13 14:32:39

I Mumsnet on incognito mode and hope that the auto back up doesn't capture it)

Why, what would he do if found out you were on Mumsnet? If its just so he cant see this thread then maybe but I get the feeling its more than that. Clearly he was damaged your own self-esteem so much you think you are "entitled", and of course you're not.

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