A Marriage's Lack Of Boundaries

Carol and her husband make $125,000 a year and keep separate finances. She recently discovered her husband hadn't paid taxes on the house. What does she do?

QUESTION: Carol in Knoxville and her husband make $125,000 a year and keep separate finances. She discovered her husband hadn’t paid taxes on the house. They received an insurance check for a roof repair, and she gave him the money to pay the taxes. But now the roof is still leaking. What does she do? Dave says they have a marriage issue.

ANSWER: You don’t have a money problem. You have a marriage problem. You guys don’t have much of a marriage. You live completely separate lives, you don’t have much respect for your husband, and he doesn’t do a very good job of taking care of his wife. This is a marriage problem. It’s a disaster. Him giving money to the kids is just part of the equation. The fact that you guys don’t talk, you don’t work together, you don’t agree on anything, and you just exist in the same house. You’re like roommates.

I’m not suggesting you leave, but I am suggesting that you bust all up in this whole marriage thing. Why don’t you guys plan on spending the next 20 years of your lives enjoying each other rather than this hostility that’s developing? What would be wrong with sitting down with your pastor or a marriage counselor for some marriage counseling?

I don’t disagree with some of your conclusions. I just disagree with the fact that you guys are thinking this is an okay way to live. It’s not. It’s horrible. By the way, it’s not good for his kids. When one of you dies, your kids are going to tear each other’s throats out because you’ve set them up to hate each other.

I’m fussing at you but for your own good in a loving way . I want to force the two of you to deal with this issue. There shouldn’t be any his and hers on the money. You guys ought to be in agreement with what’s going on with all the money. The money ought to flow this way. You need to take care of your own household first. You guys have got to sit down together and say you’re going to combine your money, communicate, and you’re going to become one. He’s got to love his wife well, more than he does his grown 30-year-old kids. You’ve got to love him more than you do your kids. They’re grown. Together as a unit, you guys are going to be strong, love each other first and foremost, then and only then do you have the financial wherewithal and the emotional wherewithal to love your grown kids well. Right now, probably neither one of you is doing that.

You guys have got to get on the same page with money and take care of each other. This behavior pattern has got to change. This entire story is about a lack of boundaries between each other and with your kids. One of you is going to get sick or die, and then you’re going to have an unbelievable mess on your hands.