Woman Asks For Advice Because Her 'Husband Doesn't Know How To Be Poor' — 'We Need Counseling But With What Money?'

Finances are one of the greatest sources of financial strife, but their might be more to her husband's issue than just overspending.

married couple arguing over money because the husband doesn't know how to be poor fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Disagreements about money are a part of almost any marriage — and often a very damaging one. For one woman on Reddit, the issue is coming to a head between her and her husband, and she's out of ideas for how to get through to her spendthrift husband.

The woman asked for advice because her husband 'doesn't know how to be poor.' 

We've all heard it time and time again — disagreements over money are the #1 cause for divorce. It turns out that's probably not exactly true — the most recent data shows more relationship-oriented causes like differing priorities and having married too young as more common causes. Even still, financial disagreements are consistently at the top of the list of reasons couples split.


And after reading this woman's Reddit post, it's easy to see why.

"I’m so upset and idk how to deal with him right now," she opens her post, going on to say that she pays all of the bills and handles their weekly budget — a budget her husband seems to not even have any understanding of, let alone the ability to adhere to.


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She worries her husband doesn't understand 'the difference between a want and a need.'

Her husband is so bad with money that she routinely ends up relegated to taking the bus to work because he's spent her gas money on needless things. One recent week, they were left with $150 for groceries after paying for everything else. 

"He then asks if he should get a case of red bulls for $30 at Costco," she wrote, a request that left her "speechless" and genuinely concerned that he sincerely doesn't understand the dire financial straits they're in.



"I said, 'I’m concerned that you don’t comprehend the difference between a want and a need,'" she writes, which prompted her husband to "throw a fit" and say things like "he’ll just eat peanut butter and jelly for every meal" and accuses her of making him feel bad about himself. 


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Her husband's temper is out of control when it comes to their disagreements about money, but they can't afford counseling.

"He’s literally a child," she writes of her husband, going to say that she "can’t imagine life in the future as things get more expensive," especially given our punishingly expensive economy nowadays. She's come to the conclusion that her husband might just be fundamentally incapable of following a budget, especially because every conversation they have about it turns into a monumental fight. "It always resorts to an argument where he then says crazy, outlandish and over the top things like 'I guess I’ll just go live in my car, I’ll get another full-time job, I’ll just sell everything and live under a bridge.'"



She's at her wit's end, but given their financial situation she feels like she has no recourse.


"People will say we need counseling but with what money? Marriage counseling isn’t free," she writes. "I’m sick of this."

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People had lots of opinions about the situation, but some wondered if there might be something deeper at play.

Redditors had all kinds of ideas for how to manage this. Many, of course, suggested what seems to be the most likely outcome anyway — divorce. Those who have been through similar situations in particular urged the woman to start setting aside money to extricate herself from the relationship. 

But others suggested she try more draconian measures to make him understand the problem, like only giving him cash to spend like a child with an allowance  —both to teach him how to budget but also to ensure that the wife's needs are not jeopardized by his profligacy. 


"He needs to understand once the cash in his hand is gone, thats it til next payday," the Redditor wrote. "Give him his half of the cash and say this is all you have for the next two weeks... But set your half aside." The assumption seemed to be that he'd be forced into learning eventually.

But given his outsized reaction to the rudiments of basic math, there's reason to believe that this issue goes far deeper than misunderstanding. One of the most common symptoms of financial trauma, for example, particularly in those who grew up in financial hardship, is to become a spendthrift. People with this kind of trauma try to make up for the lack and stress they grew up with by either becoming a tightwad or refusing to live thriftily as adults, often to their own peril and detriment in both cases. Becoming so combatively defensive is also a frequent reaction from those with some kind of financial trauma. 



It seems like this woman has the right instincts — without therapy, there doesn't seem like much of a way forward. Given how inaccessible therapy is to most people, she unfortunately may be faced with an even bigger decision to make than how to get her husband on board with a budget.


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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.