He ruined our finances

I am a stay-at-home mom and have been married for 27 years. Very early on I asked my husband to take over the finances because it was too depressing. Twenty years later, I finally asked about our debt because over the past year or so we had been cutting back until it was becoming uncomfortable. I found out then that he had ruined our finances. We are in our mid-50s.

Why didn't I ask him about the specifics of our finances before? Because he always said we'd be fine. I trusted him. It wasn't until recently, when he started saying I should probably get a job to make things easier, that I finally asked him for more details. Why didn't he tell me about this when he was starting to worry years ago? Because he didn't like how I got angry and kept suggesting that he get a different job. We have three kids who were in their teens at the time.

He depleted our IRA. Credit cards debts are in the thousands. We have to sell our house. Meanwhile, he has a high paying job! I am beyond despair. I am seeing a counselor. I am trying to look for a job. I am pursuing a divorce. What do you think? I need another point of view.

— Cutting back


Well, you're doing two right things — counseling and job searching. What's missing is work on the marriage.

I understand that you feel betrayed and that your husband should have disclosed that you were living beyond your means, but I'm missing the part about what's kept you guys together for 27 years. If you love each other and have enjoyed the partnership, there might be something to save. Make sure you're talking about the good stuff in therapy, too.

It's also worth seeing a financial counselor as a couple. Sometimes overwhelming money problems become less scary when they're explained by an expert. Sometimes all you need is a plan.

You asked for another point of view, but all I know is what you told us. If you want to know whether divorce is your best option, talk to professionals (and yourself) about the reasons you and your husband have stayed together. That's the best way to figure out what you're willing to lose.

Readers? Divorce?

– Meredith