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Frustrated - Wife Spends When Depressed

Discussion in 'Supporter Discussion' started by rtrollins, Oct 15, 2006.

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  1. rtrollins

    rtrollins New Member

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    Hi, everybody. A few years ago, my wife was diagnosed with PTSD resulting from childhood abuse. I had always known that she was prone to depression, but she was only diagnosed with PTSD after she started dissociating and had left us thousands in debt by using shopping as a coping mechanism. Since her diagnosis, she has been undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy, which has helped.

    Since she doesn't seem to realize when her PTSD symptoms are flaring up in many cases, I try to be alert to the signs that I've seen in the past, as well as keeping an eye on our finances. As I'm sure you can imagine, we often end up in huge arugments when I try to get her to see that things are getting worse, although when she's feeling better she seems to appreciate it.

    Anyway, when I see her having problems managing money or controlling her anger, I feel like I have to point it out and encourage her to talk to her therapist about it. This is often an uphill battle, but I feel like I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. If she doesn't get help during those times, we both know from experience that the anger will impact her job, and the compulsive spending will eventually put us in debt over our heads. While I don't want to upset her or start a fight, I can't just ignore it and hope it'll work out, because she doesn't seem to recognize that anything is wrong until it gets to a critical stage.

    I think what I'm looking for here more than anything is a place to vent once in a while, when I feel like I can't handle it anymore, although I'm interested in talking to other spouses in similar situations.

    Thanks in advance for the support. From the threads I've been reading, this seems to be a great group.
     
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  3. Kims_Man

    Kims_Man Active Member

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    Welcome, RT,

    I have a wife that suffers from PTSD as a result of childhood abuse. I can so relate to your wifes reactions to you when you bring anything up. Kim will do the same if I point out something she had done that upset me. She usually points out, rather quickly, how I have done a similar thing in the past, at which time the topic moves from what she did to what I did. I learned that once this happens, it's best for me to just shut down. I won't continue the conversation with her, although I will continue it in my own head. I can come up with some pretty good things to say when it's all going on in my own mind, and I don't even have to worry about retribution!

    But seriously, I can relate, I just wish I had an answer for you. I know that sometimes Kim will come around and apologize for whatever it was that started the argument. Just by pointing it out to begin with might help for her to see that what she is doing is very destructive, but allow her to see it in her own time, her own way. It's easy for me to say that when there is no money involved, huh. Wish I could do more!

    Again, welcome, we're very happy that you have decided to join our little, dysfunctional family. We're just a hoot to be around!
     
  4. permban0008

    permban0008 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    RT,

    Got your post in the introductions part yesterday, so we've already kind of met. I'm with Kims Man on this. Your damned if you do and damned if you don't. I used to give it right back to Anthony but at the moment I just shut the hell up. Why? I have a baby due in soon and I have a toddler in this environment so I don't want to escalate a situation that I can't win. Having said that I would not keep quiet if money were the issue and he was spending it like lolly water. I have seen that happen to another couple I know and she ended up having to cancel all of his access to credit cards and the like. They were in danger of losing their house.

    Stay with us and vent. Like KM says 'we're a hoot to be around'.
     
  5. anthony

    anthony Renovation Aficionado Founder

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    RT, PTSD encompasses depression already. If you have PTSD, you have a [DLMURL="http://www.ptsdforum.org/thread1097.html"]miriad of disorders[/DLMURL] all wrapped in one.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2015
  6. rtrollins

    rtrollins New Member

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    Kerrie-Ann,

    Thanks for the feedback, and thanks for understanding the situation. My wife's therapy has helped with everything including the spending. When things got so bad a few years ago, she recognized that she had to get help. She also asked me to take her name off the credit cards as a precaution, which I did.

    She tries very hard to handle the money responsibly, and over all she's been doing very well. I've seen some transactions recently that concerned me, and she initially was very defensive when I brought it up. After she cooled down and thought about it though, I think she realizes something isn't right, so she has promised me that she will talk to her therapist about it. With any luck, she'll deal with it before it gets serious again. She's usually very willing to address these things when she realizes that there is a problem.

    If we can continue to keep the spending under control, we'll eventually get the debt paid off. I just find myself waiting for the other shoe to fall financially, and blowing off steam occasionally does seem to help.

    Anyway, thanks for listening.
     
  7. Jen

    Jen Well-Known Member

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    RT
    You are doing well to attempt to curb her spending. My husband did the same thing we bought a small business and he got all excited because it started of so well and started spending all of our money on crap and not paying bills.
    All of a sudden he hit a wall and so did the business. I had to step in and take over all of our finances and the business and he has depression now and wants nothing to do with money. I can remember on his birthday him on the phone trying to transfer money into his account so he could go and blow it at the casino in his words " I work hard for it" this was his attitude for a while. That attitiude has gone now as we cant afford it any more all our money goes in to getting us out of the debt he got us in to. I reckon by the end of the year I will be on top of it and he will not be blowing our money again.
    Jen
     
  8. superd

    superd Member

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    Hey RT...

    Hey man...welcome aboard. Awesome group of people here...all are intelligent and insightful, for which I am eternally grateful!

    A thought hit me when I read your post...I have recently been in your shoes, and a HUGE factor in money and PTSD is control. What I mean by that is this: when my wife who suffers from PTSD spends on things we can't afford or don't need, and I call her out on it, she immediately interprets this as me attempting to control her in some way...never mind the fact that we, as the "suffering spouses", are usually left to try and manage the finances, including the worry and headache that goes along with it; none of which seems to be of any real importance to our spouses but is terrifying to us.

    You might want to consider that your wife is interpreting your actions in pointing out her spending as ways to control her...which is the real bitch because at certain times, our PTSD spouses MUST be controlled to some degree to guard against the damage they can do unwittingly to themselves, the finances and the marriage in general. I think that's where the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" really comes into play...either you do nothing and watch as they, seemingly somehow without realizing it, blow your finances to hell, or you step in and say something, which puts a giant bull's eye on your forehead and a bazooka in her hands.

    The real kicker in all of this is that, after a few nuclear spending sprees by your wife, you are so paranoid about the next one that you become hypersensitive to the smallest purchase, and confront her on them, which, in a normal marriage, IS controlling....

    Sounds hopeless? For now, IT IS...that's why the best thing you can do is get yourself straight while she does the same, and realize that this is not permanent, and it can be managed. In the meantime, make yourself at home and VENT AWAY.

    Have Fun!!!!!!!!!!
     
  9. rtrollins

    rtrollins New Member

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    Thanks very much for sharing your experience, Jen. I feel like I understand exactly what you've been through with your husband. I'll never forget how shocked I was when I went, in the space of a few minutes, from thinking our finances were in good shape to realizing that we were over our heads in debt that would take several years to dig out of. I spent a lot of time researching the credit card bills to try and determine where it all went, but I was never able to figure it all out. Now a lot of my energy goes into trying to make sure it doesn't happen again.

    I'm very sorry that you had to go through a similar experience, but it does help me to know that I'm not the only one dealing with this problem.

    Rick
     
  10. rtrollins

    rtrollins New Member

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    superd,

    I think you hit the nail right on the head about the control thing! If I didn't know better, I'd think you had been in the room during some of my arguments with my wife. I often tell her that I can say "good morning" to her, and she'll interpret it as some sort of accusation leveled toward her. That's an exaggeration, of course, but not by much some days.

    If I can control my temper well enough, she'll usually calm down after a few minutes and understand what I'm trying to talk to her about. At that point, she'll agree that something doesn't seem right, although she doesn't necessarily understand why she spent the money. She's very embarassed that things got so bad a few years ago, and she tries very hard to make sure that it doesn't happen again. At least I don't have to drag her to her therapy sessions as some of the folks have described in the posts that I've read here. It was also a truly mutual decision that I should take her off the credit cards after that.

    You're right about me being a bit paranoid at this point too. The idea of another bad spending spree scares the hell out of me. We're putting every spare dollar each month into extra payments on our loan, in an attempt to get it paid off more quickly. My wife doesn't always appreciate having to watch our money so closely in order to make those big payments, but she does understand that we'll be much better off when the debt is gone.

    After reading these responses to my post, I'm more comfortable that I'm doing the only thing I can by keeping a close eye on our finances, and that helps to lower my stress level some.

    I really appreciate you sharing your experience. I'm always open to suggestions for ways of talking to her that will help minimize the defensive reactions.

    Thanks again,

    Rick
     
  11. permban0008

    permban0008 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    Hey RT,

    If its any consolation, the friends I was talking about with the money problems and PTSD caused her a lot of angst. She didn't do the spending but before her husband went off the rails with PTSD they were pretty financially set. She hated cutting his access to credit cards and to the house loan but there was nothing else she could do. She confessed to me that she kind of felt like she was 'babysitting' but it was either that or watch their hard work go down the drain. I can see it from your wifes' perspective in that it would seem a little controlling but you really are in a rock and a hard place. Anthony knows that I would put the skids right under his spending spree straight away and I would be prepared to wear the wrath from that. There is no reason why you should work your ass off to watch it all be blown away on rubbish. You are not ever going to win anyway.
     
  12. rtrollins

    rtrollins New Member

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    Thanks, Kerrie-Ann. I know exactly how your friend feels. It does feel like "babysitting" sometimes. I wish I could go back to the days when I just assumed that our cash flow was ok and didn't worry about it, but if my wife starts to lose control of her spending again I need to know it before it becomes serious. I too hated to cut my wife's access to the credit cards and periodically check her credit report, but I neither of us saw any other choice.

    By keeping an eye on things, we've caught a few "relapses" before they became a real problem, and she got the help she needed to deal with them. I've learned that the best approach is to meet the issue head on, knowing that there will be that initial arugment when I bring it up. It's not fun, and it's often very discouraging, but it's worked for the last few years. I just have to take it one day at a time, I think, and face the fact that it will continue to be an issue for us. If I can do that, I think we'll be able to keep things under control. Keeping my frustration level down is the hardest part.

    Thanks again for sharing her story. It helps to know that others in the same situation see the options the same way that I do. Before finding these forums, I couldn't hlep but wonder sometimes if I was handling it the right way or not.

    Rick
     
  13. permban0008

    permban0008 Policy Enforcement Banned

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    Rick,

    I am not sure if there really is a right or a wrong way to deal with the issues that PTSD brings. You are doing the best you can and that is really all that can be asked of you. Like I said, its not up to you to work your ass off only to see it being blown away on rubbish. You do get tired of the same old fights over the same old stuff though. I know that only too well.
     
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