Feeling Stuck? Is Your Spouse a Compuslive Spender?

The following excerpt is from a question I received from one of my newsletter subscribers named Kevin.

Kevin asked a very important question that many couples struggle with. Since he gave me permission to post his question on my blog, my hope is that Kevin’s question will ring true for other couples going through similar struggles.

Is Your Spouse a Compulsive Spender?Now I have to make a disclaimer here, because I know that Kevin’s question does not apply to ALL women. Some women are the sole providers of the household and they don’t need to rely on their husbands at all for financial support.

But there are also many women (and men) who do enjoy spending money, which puts the couple in a bad position financially, forcing them to live “check to check.” THAT, is what this post is about.

It is important to note that it is the CONCEPT and advice that is important here, not “who is doing what”.

Okay here we go…

This was Kevin’s question to me….

“Larry, I found the last two newsletters hit the mark on what my wife and I are going through. Though the last one left me with a question. As you stated women are the shoppers, buyers “American Women are the largest economy in the world”. How is it then the man’s responsibility to provide financial security?

In your opinion does he do this by allowing her to spend his earnings as well as her own? If she is in charge of spending, is it not her responsibility to budget and therefore provide financial security?”


My response to Kevin…

Hi Kevin,

Great question and I’m so glad you asked it. Contained in your question is the idea that if women are the ones who are wired to go out and buy provisions for the family, then they should be relied on to not waste resources that the providing man earns.

A man is wired to provide financial security and a woman is wired to make a nice home. For some women, a VERRRRRY nice home, and that takes money. Lots of money. It turns out that the longer a man is married, the more money he makes compared to single men as reported in The Case For Marriage (Gallagher & Waite). Because you have this insight, you can see that it’s a woman’s desire to create a wonderful environment for the people she loves, which causes her to buy more nice things, which drives a man to earn more.

Here’s the answer you want. She should control her spending and stay within the family budget. But here’s the problem. Your wife knows that. She consciously and factually knows it’s important to control spending, knows it’s bad to spend more than you make and bad to go into debt. The strange part comes when your wife cannot explain how when QVC comes on TV, and they start talking about how wonderful something is, that she picks up the phone, presses six numbers and increases your credit card debt another hundred dollars.

When pressed for an answer, she doesn’t have one. The answer, the one she is not ready to hear, is that in order to control spending, in order to control anything in your life, you need to control your emotions. If you didn’t get that gift in your childhood, you’ve got to learn it as an adult. This is the reason I offer my free email course, The 7 Secrets of Eliminating Your Negative Feelings in 60 seconds.


This will help your wife learn how she’s wired and what must be controlled inside so she can keep her promise and not spend more than you earn each month.

But the question of what she will do, each time she is offered another spending opportunity still comes down to this. “Do I spend now and feel immediately good or do I deny this emotional urge to spend and feel the reward of financial security later?” Ultimately, you can’t MAKE her answer that question each time. She has to see the consequences for herself.

Thanks Kevin.

Larry Bilotta


  • Jane

    Reply Reply April 18, 2008

    What if you live in an upside down family?

    She makes more for what ever reason, he thinks he does not need to “Provide” Since she can do it for him. (not her idea of security or marriage) So his spending is for what ever item he “needs” of course justfified and does not contribute to the family expenses since he “does his best” work wise and can’t live up to her salary (why should he try to?)

    There is no famly budget since there is no family contributions just his and hers?

    What then?

  • Will TenBroek

    Reply Reply April 21, 2008


    Very true!! I used to be the compulsive spender and that caused lots of turmoil and untrust in our marriage. I am paying for that now!!
    But, now the tables have turned and she is spending the money. I really have to practice keeping the emotions on the EC wave, so I don’t get into the cycle of getting that quick fix!! It just causes more emotional pain later.
    Then factor in all the late fees on credit cards, high interest rates, etc….. It all adds up into the thousands before you know it.
    I like your idea of the responsible one ( wait… let me rephrase the MORE responsible one) at the time have it all on paper and say , “this is where our debt was for last month, this is what we make. Just wanted you to be aware of it.” Calmly said, no secrets, just facts.



  • Larry Bilotta

    Reply Reply April 23, 2008

    Will is a graduate of my Environment Changer program. That’s where I work with one spouse to change the entire environment, the atmosphere, the energy of the marriage. Not a program for the faint of heart or those who think that divorce is an answer for anything. I especially admire Will for the great strides he’s made considering his very troubled past. When he says that the tables have turned, he means that he used the be the irresponsible and self centered one in the marriage. Now he’s taken on the role of good dad, responsible manager of the house and provider, one that his wife held before she experienced her meltdown.

    Money is one of many popular issues that expose us in the most demanding relationship on earth, marriage. If our old dark programs from our childhood would be exposed, they will be seen in the intensity of marriage. I want to encourage readers of this blog to stop looking at issues in their effort to find solutions. You’ll find very few solutions there. Regarding this topic, managing money, you won’t find solutions by talking about how to manage money, who should manage the money, what to do to get out of debt, who should do without, what’s fair and on and on it goes.

    The problem is not with money but with a man and woman’s emotional condition. I say over and over that until you can eliminate your negative feelings in 60 seconds, you will not be able to permanently solve virtually any issue. Get a good start on this subject by subscribing to my 7 Secrets of Eliminating Your Negative Feelings email series.

  • Sherry Love

    Reply Reply May 27, 2008

    It’s reasonable that women are often driven my emotions, or in this case, you can call it buying impulse. It’s a weakness that can’t go away. You can say that men must make the women understand that spending more that they earn is bad and the consequences of giving in to their buying needs. But being a women, I can say that it might not work all the time. Most women only realize that they have done after they have put their family’s finance at risk. It’s sad but it’s true. If a husband can, may be he should stop giving his wife the credit card to go shopping so he doesn’t have to hear her talk. It might work. There are way too many family problems and no one has one answer for any of them. You just have to reply on trial and error to see which will improve your family situation.

    Sherry Love


    PS: If you have time, please come by my blog and leave your comments. Thanks. Sherry Love.

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