Unemployed husband is blowing money!

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My husband lost his second job in 4 years last Oct/Nov. He never really helped with the house or the two younger kids, 10 and 7, before he lost his job and always spent extravegently. But with him being off work for so long this time I hoped he would have made some effort to help out, especially since we are about to have a fourth child and I have started to have to work over time to make ends meet, and at least stop spending the way he does.
So far in the last year he has went to Florida twice, Colorado once (where he took in a baseball game, rented three cars- two at $400 a day to four wheel and one just to drive around), and Indianapolis (where he went to the Indianapolis 500). He is shopping constantly, spending 1000′s on fixing his numorous cars, spending at least two nights a week at bars with friends (where I usually have to come pick him up), and spending 100′s a month on his daughter, 15.
Since I am working over time he has been left in charge of our two younger girls at night and homework is not getting done, he doesn’t feed them dinner (I do ususally around 8:30-9), the kids are constantly calling me at work after school because he is watching TV in his room and refuses to make himself avaliable to them. The house is a complete disaster as well.

Every night he tells me tells he’ll work on the house and make sure the kids are taken care of tomorrow, but it never happens. Eventually I get so fed up that we end up arguing and I feel horrible having to point out all of his short comings during this time. When i ask him to at least give me a reason he couldn’t do what he promised or account for the 6 hours he is home alone while the kids are at school he just says he had other things to do and if he gives me more then that it seems as though he is making it up. I am never sure if he is making up what he is doing durning the day to cover up something or if he really has no sense of the time frames he is doing things in.

It is fair to mention he does have ADD and has always refused to take his medicine regularly. Since he has been off work he has admitted to not taking it most days. As well he has admited to needing to nap from 9-11 in the morning and again from 2- when the girls get off school, not sure if this has anything to do with him not managing his ADD or depression. At this point I am not sure whether to be concerned with his drinking, but I do think it will be an issue later.

I have talked to him about going back into counseling (we did family and couples counseling for three years but stopped once my work insurnace changed and would not cover the counselor we were seeing) but he always has an excuse not to. I have made two appointments with two counselors and he never showed up to either one.

I am just at my wits end at this point as the baby is due in a month and our house is definitely not fit for any kid to live in and I am not sure if there will be money in the bank account to cover our household expenses for much longer if he continues to spend like he is.

A: Your husband is in serious denial and so are you. He’s pretending he doesn’t have responsibilities as a husband and father. You are pretending that you can keep your financial boat afloat by throwing money at the situation. It isn’t working. It’s as if you are trying to fill a pitcher that has a hole in the bottom. Of even more concern is that you are in denial about the care your children are getting from him. This isn’t a safe or healthy situation for them.

I absolutely sympathize with the stress that unemployment can put on a guy. But the answer is not to sink the family. He could be giving you the emotional and practical support you need to provide for the family. Yes, it is a reversal of the traditional roles. But having one parent at home and one parent providing is a model that women have accepted and done well for generations and more and more men are embracing. It’s a model that can and does work. If he can’t find a job, your husband needs to do the job of taking care of the house and children so that you can perform well. As many, many men and women can tell him, that can be as rewarding and dignfying as any employment.

Your husband is too depressed to make a change so it’s up to you. For the sake of all your children, including the baby to come, separate your money. The money your husband has wasted could have gone to good childcare and some household help. Give him a modest allowance but that’s it, no exceptions, until he becomes a solid contributing partner. Make sure you are not responsible for any credit cards he has in his possession. You may need to see a lawyer to make sure you are not left holding the bag if he defaults on his financial obligations. Demand that your husband get into serious treatment, take his medications, and put himself on a money diet. He should probably sell some of the cars and stay out of the bars. Without money, he won’t be able to escape the reality that he is in serious trouble. When you stop cooperating with his denial, he’ll be less able to keep up the pretense of being among the privileged rich.

If your husband can’t or won’t man up, you have difficult decisions to make. Your first obligation is to the safety and welfare of your kids.

I realize that it’s terribly hard to make ultimatums to someone you love. But without a cold splash of reality, there is no reason for your husband to change. Wake up and get busy. Your new baby as well as your older kids deserve to have a more relaxed mom and a more responsible dad.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 13 Oct 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Unemployed husband is blowing money!. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/10/13/unemployed-husband-is-blowing-money/