Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi Carolyn • I am a 30-year-old, recently married woman. My husband and I did not get married in haste — we went to premarital counseling and have been together six years — but I am beginning to feel like the wool was pulled over my eyes this entire time.
I have been slowly uncovering financial issues such as unpaid rent and car notes, credit card charges, and extra equipment and phone lines in my name. My husband is not being cooperative in explaining this, and I teeter between feeling like a complete idiot for allowing him to handle our finances — my career is in finance — and just completely overwhelmed and hurt.
I have started the process of removing his access to my accounts, but how do I know if this is something to walk away from? Where do I start to pick up the pieces? This is not how I imagined starting out. — Falling Apart
People are also reading…
Answer • Of course not. No one likes to be faked out.
But being faked out is not a reflection of your personal failings — it is all about his. So stop inviting in shame as another party to this already crowded problem.
You have nothing to be embarrassed about. Plus, a career in finance hardly inoculates you against fraud, especially when the fraud here appears to have been largely emotional. You were trusting because you loved him. In presenting himself as loving and trustworthy, he just managed to lie well enough to fool you. If there’s any shame to feel here, it’s all his.
Removing his access to your accounts is a good first step and also the model for your next ones: Specific, financial remedies first, one-by-one in order of greatest urgency. Lock down what you need to lock down, talk to an attorney if you haven’t already, etc.
That methodical, business-first approach will eventually leave you with only the central emotional problem to deal with, by which point you presumably will feel more ready to face it: that your husband lied to you, caused you harm, and apparently does not see getting caught as an opportunity to stop doing either one.
He is OK with hurting you. Is there any question, really, about whether to walk away?
The only reason to stay is when there’s something to stay for, with additions greater than what someone subtracts — and it’s hard to see any way to make the math work with someone subtracting love and trust.
Dear Carolyn • Is there any way to deal with someone who feels that your politely excusing yourself from a conversation or social gathering — because the subject matter makes you uncomfortable, because you’re tired, because you need to introvert — is unspeakably rude? — You Have to Stay!
Answer • There is always a way to deal with someone; there just aren’t always ways to make people like what you choose.
Excuse yourself as you wish or must. Then, as needed, politely rebuff anyone who tries to correct you for it. As it happens, telling others how to behave is higher up on the rudeness scale than, “My apologies, I have to go.”