Carolyn Hax: Fiance gets deeper in debt and lies to cover it up



Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My fiance is really, really bad with money.

We have been together for five years. When we started dating, I found out that he owed about $8,000 on credit cards. I helped him figure out a budget to pay it off, and he should have been almost done by now. In the meantime, I’ve been paying for everything other than rent, which we split, because he was paying down his debt.

I recently found out that he fell behind on his credit payments and racked up late fees and penalties, which he promised he wouldn’t do. While hashing this out, he owned up to having two other secret credit cards. One has stupid, unnecessary things such as video games on it, and the other he has used to buy me a beautiful engagement ring, so I feel awful about being mad — but I am.

Also making me feel bad is that he is really ashamed of himself. He refused my offer to loan him the money to get out of debt, but he also said he doesn’t want me on his back about this. He’s refusing to go to credit counseling, saying he got himself into this mess, and he’ll get himself out.

I love this man and believe he’s sincerely ashamed, but I still feel betrayed and disgusted. What can I do?

It’s one thing to have a problem; nobody’s perfect. But when a person’s response to a problem is, “I refuse to go to [thing that will help me get well], because I got myself into this [type of unwellness], so I will get myself out,” with no history of measurable progress from using this approach, then you have the much bigger problems of stubbornness, inflexibility and pride — which will make you miserable.

Regardless of the specifics of the source of misery.

He had five years to fix his [stuff] and didn’t. He lied to you instead. Bye! Starting today and hereafter, don’t burn your money or peace of mind on people who don’t do what they say they will and who let you do all the work.

If/when he matures enough to live, share and manage his [stuff] honestly, then he’ll be ready for the equal partnership of marriage. It doesn’t have to be with you.

· He’s not bad with money; he’s bad with truth and honesty. It just manifests itself monetarily.

· Don’t just check your credit. Put a freeze on it. This will protect you from anyone (fiance, hackers, mail thieves) opening a credit card account in your name.

· My marriage ended over $100,000-plus debt that my ex-husband accrued buying stocks on credit cards. I foolishly agreed to a second mortgage to pay off his credit cards, putting my name on his debt. Three months later, another $30,000 in credit card debt for stock purchases.

· Oof. Carolyn is absolutely right. Take it from me, who divorced a man she really loved who exhibited the same signs that I ignored out of “love.”

It wasn’t the “issue” itself (ours wasn’t money), so much as the underlying problems of lying, sneaking, avoiding big issues, lacking communication and being stubborn. And “not wanting you on his back” after he spent years letting you pick up the bills when you thought he was fixing his issues for your future together? No. All the nos. That shows a lack of integrity.