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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?

hopingforinsight Thu 09-May-13 10:52:39

Thank you everyone for the helpful replies. I have taken on board the reactions.

I think DH is merely trying to keep an eye on finances, and is not being abusive, but as I have begun to find it stifling, and as I don't want matters to slide further and our current arrangement sounds odd to many, I am going to suggest we each have a private "personal spending" account with a certain amount of money going into it each month....I will ask to keep my own password and suggest DH regards the money as "spent" when it goes into my account (someone suggested that they did that and it worked). Then I can buy that computer and also put some money aside for other things I may want to do with it (eg presents for DH and the DC). If he has a problem with that then it will ring alarm bells and I will deal with it.

The root of my problems, I feel, is that I regard our income as DH's money and not joint. I think that attitude is mainly mine and not his and I need to change. Gosh, even saying that sounds unreasonable but I am accepting that DH works because he gets lots of affirmation from it so if I take the downside (his absence) then perhaps I should not feel guilty about the upside (being a SAHM with disposable cash). My life is fine really! (Honestly) And I do feel myself to be lucky, I have no financial worries, lovely DC, and wonderful friends.

happygoluckyinoz probably gets it right smile although other posters' reactions have been a slight heads up and vindicate my original friend who highlighted this issue.

HotDAMNlifeisgood Thu 09-May-13 10:54:41

The root of my problems, I feel, is that I regard our income as DH's money and not joint.

The root of your problems is that he regards his income as his money and not joint. And you as another of his possessions.

FreddieMisaGREATshag Thu 09-May-13 10:56:36

What HotDAMN said.

Snazzynewyear Thu 09-May-13 10:59:14

I think the plan you have about the personal accounts is a reasonable way to approach this for starters. I would say that you should not 'ask' to keep your own password, though, but should act as if that will naturally be the case, not behave as if you need permission for your own password. Also be prepared for him to ask what the password is, and remember what I said earlier - don't tell him if he is not prepared to tell you his first.

MrsMangoBiscuit Thu 09-May-13 11:00:09

OP, your DH was only able to build on his career to the point where it is now, because of you supporting him. If you had both decided that he would look after the children and you would continue to work, would you think that all the money you earnt was yours, or would it be joint?

Please don't feel guilty about it, you are earning it just as much as he is.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 09-May-13 11:15:17

You do not naturally want to think of him as abusive; many women in these situations do not. But he is; he regards you as a possession to use (i.e pick the clothes you wear) and abuse (monetarily) as he sees fit. The power and control balance in your relationship is totally skewed in his favour. He has the run of it all. He regards the income as his and his alone, you are but of secondary concern to him even if you do figure at all. You are but a trophy to him.

As for your glib comment that, "My life is fine really! (Honestly) And I do feel myself to be lucky, I have no financial worries, lovely DC, and wonderful friends".

Do you really deep down believe the above that you choose to tell yourself or are you just really further kidding yourself?. His financial control is the big elephant in the room, one that for many reasons, not least of all his overall attitude, that you have not been able to address with him. Denial is also a powerful force.

You have not been able to deal with this till now and it took a friend to point out the inequalities here. Its not entirely your fault you have not seen the control because such abuse is insidious in its onset. Nothing has changed since then and you will not be able to deal with him at all if he disagrees to your reasonable requests for an account of your own. How are you going to tackle this?.

I doubt very much that he will agree to you having any financial autonomy and will block any attempt for you to have a spending account ; what then for you?. Even in the unlikely event he did agree to this, he'd soon stop any money from reaching an account in your name.

If you were to look at your own self before you met him you would probably find that you have modified his behaviour to such an extent that you try and anticipate his behaviours.

Lweji Thu 09-May-13 11:46:06

Good luck.

I have an inkling about what his reaction will be. But hoping for the best. smile

What about your clothes?

Lweji Thu 09-May-13 11:51:29

About passwords, exH and I knew (or knew about) each other's passwords.
Emphasis on each other's.
And we knew about each other's finances, balances, accounts, etc. All in the open.

He was still a twat in that he argued with me about the £2 a month I gave to a charity and used up tens of pounds in online gambling on the sligh.

Your H should only comment on your clothes if you asked him to.

AnyFucker Thu 09-May-13 13:06:27

Do you love this man?

You haven't talked much about that

BranchingOut Thu 09-May-13 13:18:52

Next time you are in town, take your passport, a council tax bill and one other official letter.

Just pop into a bank and open up a basic account.

Simple step, but you never know when you might need it.

AgathaF Thu 09-May-13 13:30:57

I regard our income as DH's money and not joint. I think that attitude is mainly mine and not his and I need to change

He regards the money as his, and you mimick his attitude towards it. Why can't you just go and buy a laptop today or tomorrow? I'm sure he would if he wanted one, so why can't you?

His attitude towards you is that of an edwardian husband, who has his chattel at home and needs to keep her in line, whilst wheeling her out to present to friends/family when demanded and expecting her to not let him down in looks etc. You seem to have absorbed that role in his life very well.

My father was very controlling (and/or my mother was a natural victim). Your life now reflects theirs. Do you see that?

He is controlling. I'm sad that you can't see it, but that doesn't make it not so.

How old are your children? How is he towards them? Are they old enough to realise how he treats you financially? Would you want them to be married to someone who treats them in this way?

For the record, I find his attitude that you may work as long as it has no impact on him, absolutely outrageous. As should you. What a selfish, entitled man.

AgathaF Thu 09-May-13 13:32:03

Incidentally, if you get cashback from the supermarket when you do your shopping, it doesn't show up as such on the cc statement.

AttilaTheMeerkat Thu 09-May-13 13:45:27

We learn about relationships first and foremost from our parents; what did your parents teach you?. You've continued the relationship pattern that your parents showed you by marrying someone like your Dad with you now playing out your mother's role.

Would urge you not to let a third generation i.e your children learn these same lessons.

Alligatorpie Thu 09-May-13 14:00:45

Ebaying stuff is a great way of making extra money. and your dh doesn't have to know.

I agree about the cashback - £20-50 every time you go shopping, will really add up. You can put it in your new bank account.

If you haven't already bought yourself a computer, I second an ipad. It's small, you can carry it with you - just don't tell him your password.

paulapantsdown Thu 09-May-13 15:20:44

Sorry OP, but you are deluded if you cannot see this abuse.

DocBrown Thu 09-May-13 16:29:44

Why should the OP be scrabbling around selling stuff on ebay and getting cash back to hide in a secret bank account when she has perfectly good money in savings? The only problem is that her DH has the passwords to the accounts (she has mentioned that the savings are in her name for tax reasons). Personally, I would be going to these providers and saying the security of the password has been compromised and re-set the passwords. Then, and only then, would I be broaching the subject of money, clothes, work with the DH as the OP would have some "ammunition" and a safety net should (and when) the SHTF. I think the DH will hit the roof when he finds out OP has taken some control back.

Sorry OP but it sounds like you live a single life as it is - except that you have to account to your DH for every penny that you spend and every minute of where you are and what you are doing. What would happen if the shoe was on the other foot?

BlingLoving Thu 09-May-13 16:43:26

I completely agree with DocBrown. Go change the passwords on the savings and then have the discussion with him.

OP, I read these posts all the time and it breaks my heart. If you believe that he earns the money and therefore deserves to spend it, what do you believe you deserve for spending all this time doing childcare? I never understand why women think that their childcare duties don't count as work. DH is a SAHD. He works as hard, if not harder, than I do.

LapsusLinguae Thu 09-May-13 17:48:54

OP have you seen this guest blog post from Women's Aid?

It describes your situation.sad

On a practical note if you can't get cashback with a credit card how about buying some gift voucher cards each time you shop?

Please don't tell us he wants the long till print out showing all the supermarket transactions?

With regard to the savings in your name contact the banks say you've forgotten the password and you want it reset. Then reset it. Then you will see how often your husband checks these accounts.

LapsusLinguae Thu 09-May-13 17:51:14

Also do you get the child benefit?

If your husband has asked for it to be stopped there is no need. Get it reinstated and he can pay it back on his tax return.

Get it paid into an account only you can access.

KitchenandJumble Thu 09-May-13 18:00:23

I agree with the majority on this thread. It sounds like your H is financially abusive, controlling, and generally an arse. I think the word "abusive" is tossed around rather too often these days, but your husband's behaviour certainly fits my definition of abuse.

Your relationship is not based on equality. Your H doesn't seem to have any respect for you at all. The idea that if you are working full-time you would still be responsible for all childcare and housework is insane.

I could never live like this. Why do you allow him to control all the finances and check up on every single thing you buy, while simultaneously having no access to the records of what he spends? I'm of the school of thought that in a marriage, all money should be considered family money, both partners have a right to access their shared money at any time and make purchases when they want and need to.

I've also been musing about the arrangements of families in which one partner has a high-powered job and the other (almost invariably the woman) stays home with the children. The danger of massive shifts in power relations is very real, and it seems as though stories like the OP's are not isolated examples. I know that people often say that such an arrangement is a choice, often described as "the best choice for our family," but I wonder whether our choices are quite as free as we would like to think they are, given that we are all products of a particular culture with its own expectations, assumptions, etc. Why would anyone accept that her place in the family is that of a second-class citizen (as the OP seems to have done)?

I'm not in any way suggesting that the OP's situation is typical, but it is less unusual than it should be. I have no axe to grind, certainly have nothing against SAHMs. But I don't think it is coincidental that most people who find themselves in a financially abusive relationship are women.

MusieB Thu 09-May-13 18:56:16

I think a lot of people in "top" jobs would be categorised as "high control" by those management analysis tools which try to sort people into personality types and I'm sure OP's H would fall into that category. It may well be that he's acting as he does without realising the impact on OP and that he does not consciously think of her as some sort of skivvy or not his equal.

My DH is definitely a high control type (as TBH am I). He cannot bear waste (would far prefer to eat food I regard as dangerously out of date etc than throw it away), is naturally very frugal and has savings mania. He would love to control our finances. Unfortunately for him I earn rather more than he does so have unilaterally awarded myself casting vote on certain spending decisions. Otherwise we would never eat good food, wear nice clothes or go on anything but basic holidays (all of which we can comfortably afford) and a great deal more would be squirelled away in savings. If I didn't work I think I would have a struggle on my hands not to be in OP's position.

But I do not think OP should try to go back to work unless she wants to for the sake of actually working rather than earning her own money. Instead in her shoes I would stress that H and W in a marriage are a team, that all money is family money and she should be kept informed of their general financial position, that she enables him to focus on his high pressure job to the degree he needs to, that she finds his scrutiny of her spending overbearing and demeaning and that she needs access to some funds which she can spend as she pleases without such scrutiny. She might add (if she feels it to be the case) that she is not accusing him of being ungenerous.

BeCool Thu 09-May-13 19:04:22

OP have you seen the guest blog on mn by Woman's Aid re financial abuse. Might be if interest to you.

Goldchilled7up Thu 09-May-13 20:47:55

Besides all the abuse I would seriously start questioning why he is so secretive with his own spending, and if its really clients that he's entertaining.

Wuldric Thu 09-May-13 21:39:57

In and around work today, I bought a pair of trainers for DD, recklessly splurged out on a latte at Costa and had a quick lunch at Waga with an old mucker. I did all of this spending without DH's knowledge or consent and I absolutely take this to be the norm.

How can you live like this?

musu Thu 09-May-13 22:23:47

I know plenty of people who use personal credit cards for their business expenses. I work with a lot of them. We have coroporate credit cards but can choose to use our personal ones and claim back (eg some people use their own to collect points, airmiles etc). Our company (financial services) doesn't mind at all. They are more focused on ensuring it was a properly incurred and documented business expense than which card has paid for it. Not this company but I've worked elsewhere where it is expected for the PA to do the expenses submission on behalf of his/her boss.

I've never not had my own income but I remember at a young age my (happily married until death of my father) mother instilling in me that I must always have access to my own money.

I couldn't live like the OP but I have known people who choose to because they don't want to give up the lifestyle they have. I was shocked the first time I came across that but it is unfortunately surprisingly common. The lifestyle is very attractive and the longer the relationship continues the greater the loss of self esteem and the harder it is to break away.

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