What happens to a marriage when your wife almost bankrupts you? A husband describes how he survived financial infidelity in his marriage and offers tips for couples in similar situations.
“The worst thing I ever survived was the financial infidelity of my wife, which to this day remains a life-changing experience,” says Ray. “When it comes to finances in marriage, “Trust but verify.” I never saw it coming nor suspected anything was wrong in my marriage.”
Here, Ray describes how he and his wife survived near bankruptcy. They pulled themselves from the brink of disaster – but it wasn’t easy.
Surviving Financial Infidelity in Marriage
In the late 80s, I came to the conclusion I should put my wife in charge of the family finances, so if anything ever happened to me, she would be able to handle them.
Shortly thereafter, strange things started occurring. I would check into a hotel and the clerk would say, “This card is no good.” I would call home and my wife always assured me the bill had been paid and she would handle it. This happened from time to time, and before I knew it, my ATM card had disappeared and I was missing bank statements. I blamed it all on the postal service.
In December of 1990, I called my broker to check on my balance. He said it was $2,000.
My balance should have been over $60,000, and I immediately suspected fraud on the broker’s part… boy was I wrong. It was fraud, but it had been perpetrated by my wife of 25 years.
I started digging into all my financial accounts, and what I discovered was totally unreal.
My wife had conned the lawyer next door into giving her power of attorney and had taken out a second mortgage of $46,000 on our home. She mortgaged our vacation condo that was paid for in cash. She had a personal loan of $14,000 with my bank and maxed out several credit cards. (I had paid off credit cards monthly.)
$250,000 Missing From Our Bank Accounts
By the time I was finished, the total missing funds were approaching $250,000. With Christmas coming, three kids in college, and my daughter’s wedding in the works, things looked bleak, even though my income was well over $100,000 a year, a tidy sum in 1990.
After each discovery, I confronted my wife and her answer was, “It just snowballed.” She was obviously not sorry for almost bankrupting us; only sorry she was discovered. She came out with sarcastic comments like, “I almost broke you.” Well, I was depressed, to say the least, and when I threatened suicide, her answer was, “Go ahead.” That snapped me awake.
Why I Didn’t Divorce My Wife
I saw a counselor at our church and the pastor said, “Divorce her.” With five children involved, I was determined not to divorce. Also, my wife would have been rewarded with half my remaining assets, not to mention spousal support and child support payments. I never could figure out why this happened, as we had a very good lifestyle and income to travel to Hawaii, Disneyworld, and other fun places every year.
I stayed married (until my wife died of breast cancer in 2003) for the children. As my wife once said, “When you lose trust, you lose everything.” After she died, one of my daughters said, “Mom told me on her death bed that she thinks you once had an affair.” Well, I never did or I would have admitted it to her. That’s just the way I am.
Why Does Financial Infidelity Happen?
To this day, I don’t know why this financial infidelity occurred. Was it because she had a shopping addiction, because she was lonely living 2,500 miles from her mother while I was on the road seven out of eight weeks, because she had a boyfriend, because she had a gambling problem or maybe a drug problem? The $250,000 could not have been all shopping; there was not a ton of new clothing.
My only regret is I did not ask for the truth before she died.
Written by Ray, who is associated with Boomerinas.com.
If you’re coping with money problems in your marriage, read Financial Infidelity – 5 Steps to Fixing the #1 Relationship Wrecker.
If you’re surviving financial infidelity because of your wife’s money management skills, read Why Are Women Bad With Money? 7 Money Mistakes Women Make.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.