Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).
I am very sorry to know about this very serious and frustrating situation.
For how long have you been married and how long ago did she start presenting these dysfunctional behaviors around money?
We have been married for 14 years. About 2 years ago we went through a financial blow-up where she was running up the credit cards at about $500 to $1000 per month plus spending any reserve cash that we had on top of that for gifts and buying lunches for other co-workers. She comes from a family where love was shown by buying their kids something.
I see, this is very concerning, then these overwhelming behavior only started 2 years ago after this phase you faced.
This seems to have become a very compulsive/addictive behavior, deeply undermining your marriage and finances
Before that it has always been happening to a point, but at the time we made it work because my job was bring in enough to cover the difference. However, when I was laid off in 2004 she began to really have compulsive behaviors, and they really came out.
I see, and has she ever got psychotherapy to work on it?
Yes, she has been getting help every since then, but she never seems to take the initiative on helping herself. She know what she needs to do, but she does not do it.
Counseling or psychotherapy, as well as any form of treatment or support become useless if the person does not truly acknowledge the severity of her dysfunctions-addiction, taking full responsibility for her actions and their consequences, and commits to work on making real changes taking advantage of professional support.
The point that I am at now is to give her $800/month and give her the username and password XXXXX the account and to tell her that she is responsible for paying for it. The problem comes into play when she goes out and buys the family items on the credit card that we really do not need. My approach is to tell her that any family item put on the card without a joint discussion will not get paid for. What are your thoughts?
I am basically trying to line-item her out of the finances. Is this possible?
Absolutely, I totally agree with it, and you need to set and keep these clear boundaries and limits consistently in place, for her to afford all the consequences in case she fails to comply.
But please be very careful, since the tendency here is for her to perpetuate the pattern and expect you to deal with the consequences, thus if you are not prepare , it would just become a more serious situation impossible to control.
Can you provide me with some guidelines that I should lay-out to her that would be fair. I am afraid that I may get little too emotional when talking with her, and may make the better than worse.
Write down the plan you have elaborated, being very clear, specific and to the point. Defining credit limits, allowed use of money, consequences she would afford in case she does not comply with agreement, and you would talk to her about it being very assertive, proactive, supportive and caring, but not codependent at all.
How do I deal with her coming back at me saying that I am being too controlling. Am I being too controlling? or is this a way for her to deflect the real issue?
You know her strengths, fears and weaknesses, try to promote her insight, openness and sense of responsibility, her awareness of how this is a serious addiction that requires real hard work for her to be and feel truly good, as well as for your marriage and family to be fine and grow.
That would be pure manipulation, and for you to fall into such destructive game, self-sabotaging and betraying your own marriage and family, since you would allow her with her addiction and mental health disorders to literally destroy it.
You need to work on yourself to eradicate any trait of codependency, otherwise this would not work at all but get worse. You could have the best intention and be full of love, but if you do not cope with is in assertive ways, it would just get worse, for her and for all of you.
If you haven't already, please start individual psychotherapy to work on it, it's very important because of the seriousness and challenges this situation presents.
Thanks for your advice. I will apply all that you have given me. It was great!!
The addiction your wife seems to present is, as any other addiction, a chronic mental health disorder, but rehabilitation is possible and necessary, tough but absolutely worthy, but no matter how good psychological treatment she could get, it would not work unless she really takes responsibility for all of her feelings, words, actions, reactions and choices, as well as the consequences they create, and as long as her support system, specially you in this case, do provide really healthy and assertive support, if not you would end enabling further addiction, abuse and neglect, and that's the last thing you need or deserve for sure.
You're very welcome. Thank you for trusting me this much. Your wife suffers of deep anxiety and possibly depression too, she needs to work hard on her sense of self-worthiness and coping skills, since these use to be most times present with compulsive-addictive disorders. Please feel free to contact me to follow up, since I am here willing to support you as possible.
That is the one realization that I have come to, is that I am enabling her to continue these actions. However, she always tries to deflect her issues on to me to prevent her from dealing with them. I really like the idea of writing it out!
Please read a book like "codependent No More", work on it with individual psychotherapy support, and consider joining a support group fr codependency, since it appears obvious to ma as a professional that you have a serious codependency problem, which is allowing and enabling her addiction and dysfunctions. Persons presenting these disorders as she does use denial, avoidance, secrecy, manipulation , dishonesty, blaming, and other serious unhealthy behaviors in order not to take responsibility for their own actions, while deepening into their vicious circle, taking their loves ones with them.