Dear Life Matters,

I am in a total panic and I’m not sure what to do! I actually don’t know that you can help with the immediate problem which is our taxes are coming due and we don’t have the money to pay them.

My husband and I are young and we both work, we don’t have any children to support yet and we both have good jobs.

We are college-educated and both of us bring in incomes in the six figures; now you would think we should be able to pay our taxes.

My husband comes from money and one day (many years away) will inherit a good sum but on the other hand I come from a working-class family, so I’m very careful with our money. We are both in our early 30s; his parents are in their early 50s and very healthy, so he probably won’t see any of that money for 30 years. Well he acts like it’s his and he will have it any minute or he does have it already! He is in complete denial and he buys what ever he wants all the latest toys, gadgets, new cars and of course his clothing is nothing but the best and he wants me to be the same.

While I enjoy some of these things, it makes me very anxious and all of our fights are about money.

His parents will probably bail us out and give him the money for our taxes but I really want to know why he does this, what’s at the root of it and is there anything I can do to help him snap out of it?

Thank you in advance,
Frightened Wife

Dear Frightened,

I can understand your anxiety because if you can’t manage your money now and inheritance is 25-30 years away then when you do have children, you are most likely going to have a lot of trouble along the way.

I can’t be sure what causes him to do this but if he’s used to having money and then his parents bail him out, as you said, that’s one problem right there! It might be helpful if you talk to them and ask for their help in putting some sort of a limit as to how much they’re going to help him out.

There are many reasons why people spend money they don’t really have and seem to be in denial about it. I can’t say for sure about your husband, but he sounds a little bit entitled and immature. I think I am agreeing with you here, it is time for him to grow up. And a good college and good job, you would think that might help but not necessarily.

Is he under other kinds of stress or does he tend to be an anxious person?

If he is, he is going to have a hard time building necessary calm and deliberate money management skills. Money management is in part a reflection of one’s internal psychology. If it isn’t anxiety that is a problem for him, then perhaps he has low self-esteem and is trying to make up for it with “things.” This only works for about a day or less.

Clearly there is a problem with self-regulation and in many ways this can be quite similar to any other kind of addiction.

The dissimilarities in your views regarding money and the fact that you are fighting over it is only makes matters worse because you are both going to be stressed and resentments are going to build over time if they haven’t already.

Now we know how he handles his stress so you don’t want to add to it. But there is also the question of how you are handling yours. Writing in is a good first step but clearly more is needed.

I think you need to stop the fighting, maybe see a marriage counselor. And in order to get to the root of his problem, he needs to see a psychologist. Then after all of that, you may need to sit down with a financial planner.

Because financial therapy is not yet accredited and there is no regulating body you might want to look into an Accredited Financial Counselor. This could be a big help but not a substitute for what I have said above.

There is also a 12-step program called Debtors Anonymous but somehow I don’t think he would be ready for that but I might be wrong.

I hope this has helped, I hope you take the next step and good luck!

Dr. JoAnne Barge is a licensed psychologist and marriage and family therapist with offices in Brentwood. Visit her at www.drbarge.com or send your anonymous questions to newshrink@gmail.com.

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