Ask Amy: How can I trust my husband after he lied about credit card debt?

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Dear Amy: I recently found out that my husband of seven years was using high interest credit cards in his name to buy expensive luxury items (wine, watches, clothes, etc.). The total bill of this debt is $20,000. I think this has been going on for years. I asked for his credit card statements, that’s how I found out.

He said he was a coward for not telling me, and he said he was selfish. I have strong concerns about trusting him now. We have $20,000 in home equity debt. He has consolidated his credit card debt.

My husband is a strong Christian so this level of deception is extremely hypocritical and disappointing. How would you handle and view this situation?

Worried: You opened the door to your spouse’s financial cheating and shopping problem, and now you need to make sure you get the whole picture. After their purchase, where did these luxury items land? Full transparency will at least give you a snapshot of where his problems have led the two of you.

You can start by researching the least expensive way your husband can negotiate, consolidate and pay off his debt (he’s probably chosen a high-interest option). Selling items you bought could help reduce the debt.

Until he shows that he is actively and responsibly working on solutions, you should be in charge of all your joint finances. At least twice a month, you should sit down together and review your income, bills, and savings.

She should commit to seeing a counselor and perhaps attend a compulsive buying support group. Compulsive buying can sometimes accompany other addictive behaviors and may be an expression of underlying anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenge.

Excavation will take time, but you can map it out on a calendar. Celebrate the positive steps you take toward solvency as you pass various milestones.

Since you mentioned your husband’s Christian focus, you may benefit from the work of consumer financial advisor Dave Ramsey. Ramsey’s long-running radio show (and podcast) views consumer debt as an intellectual issue (I agree).

People who call into the show share strategies and inspirational stories. Those who have found their way out of debt describe the liberation of solvency as well as the relationship benefits of working together to regain control of your financial future.

Dear Amy: I like having a colder house as it helps me breathe better. My thermostat is often set at 67. I wear layers when I’m cold as it relieves chronic rhinitis and sinus problems.

However, when my parents visit (they are in their 60s), they constantly complain about the cold, until I have to set the thermostat to 73 degrees. My mother even joked that they will happily pay the entire month’s heating bill just for more heat while they visit, which is NOT the right way to look at things.

I’m careful about what I spend, but I swear the thermostat has very little to do with it. I can afford to heat my house to 73 degrees, but that’s uncomfortable for me.

My parents only visit once a year from afar and our culture demands total respect for their needs. But I also don’t want to feel uncomfortable in my home. What is a reasonable compromise?

Sweater: There is no compromise here, there is only you maintaining a welcoming environment for your parents, who undertake a long annual trip to spend time at your home.

I live in a very cold environment where six months out of the year “put on a sweater” is said to anyone who complains. But maybe during this time, you could really take off a layer or two to get yours comfortable.

Yes, if you have to choose between your comfort and your guests’ comfort — you should choose theirs. Perhaps you could block off your bedroom during this time and keep it cooler than the rest of the house.

Dear Amy: Tears streaming down my face as I read “Mark in Missouri” beautiful tribute to his wife and her encouragement to take “girls trips” with her sisters and cousins.

“Disease has no calendar of good times,” he wrote. So true!

Fan: The best work I do is to enhance the beautiful wisdom of my readers.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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