Thursday, March 28, 2013

Is My Husband Cheating On Me?

Thank you for all the words of encouragement on my last post. I really appreciated them, and it made me once again so thankful for this community that we share. I left a few things unwritten then, because it was getting so long. This is the second half of the story.

If anyone were to analyze the purchases my husband has made over the last 6 months and compared it to our prior decade long history they would probably jump to the conclusion that my husband must be cheating on me. Only guilty men who have something to hide do what he does.

Let me present the evidence:

  • He works long and erratic hours.
  • He travels for work conferences and meetings requiring over night stays.
  • He uses a pager and a work issued blackberry that is password protected.
  • He disappears in the middle of the night.
  • He doesn't answer his phone (unless of course he does).
  • He has made several expensive purchases as gifts.

Sounds suspicious, doesn't it?

Luckily, I know him better than that. And most of the above has been a part of our life style for as long as we have had a life together. That is except the last one. 

We aren't a gift giving couple. Our finances have always necessitated creativity over price. Or in lieu of gifts we'd go out to dinner and get a babysitter. 

I knew my husband had the potential to be a gift giver, because even when we would set the budgets for gifts (when we allowed our selves to give them) he would always go over. Or he would ask that I not give him anything and allow him to use the full amount. Or he would always tell me about the things that he wanted to give me. Always so selfless.

Here is where I need to come clean. I have been holding out on you. I started this blog so that I could have a place to be completely honest and work out the "stuff" I deal with. But, I haven't told you everything. I think I felt self-conscious and didn't want to draw attention to the fact that life is getting really good right now. Maybe too good.  I am much more comfortable sharing the truth about all the bad stuff, but hold back on the good. So, here it is.

I wasn't prepared for was the unleashing of his giving. Apparently the repression has been severe and now the pendulum has swung the other way.  At the first available opportunity he started buying and hasn't been able to stop. We are talking spending worthy of an intervention, and that's kind of what he is about to get. 

For the record I was pleased with all of his gifts. However, I didn't expect them all so soon. I was thinking over time... lots of time. Like years. Now what is there left to buy?

First there was a new van. He has known that I wanted a new van for the last 4 or 5 years. The one we had was picked out by someone else and given as a gift, which I am very grateful for. Let this be a lesson, if you start looking at something you will buy it. If you don't want to buy it don't look at it. 

This first purchase made me very nervous. Yes the contract had been signed, but it was still in the mail when he went to the dealership. I should have known this purchase was coming because he had been spending a lot of his free time on the Internet shopping around. But he has always done this for as long as I have known him. Build cars online and dream. Dream. I thought I had successfully convinced him of the merits of waiting 6 months or even until we moved. We didn't need a new van, the one we had worked just fine as long as we didn't need to transport anyone other than our children to and fro. 

Perhaps it was my fault for complaining about the car pick-up line at school and how the attendants didn't hardly know how to open or close our van door which required me to pull over, get out and re-close the door before heading out into traffic. Or maybe he felt like a neurosurgeon's wife should be driving something made in this decade.

I forgave him for the van. It is gorgeous, spacious, much nicer than anything I could have dreamed of. I am keeping it.

Then a week later he bought himself a foreign, super horse power, sporty vehicle. I cringed a little bit, because we (he) had just bought a new van and I thought we had agreed to wait a little bit. But, I know that he is a car guy and that he has hated everything he has driven for the last 8 years. And he has worked so hard, doesn't he deserve the one thing that he wants? I know he thought he did.

He had been eyeing this particular model for a few months. It was a special edition and there was only one left in town. The year was coming to an end so there wouldn't be any others. I am sure the salesman used urgency to his advantage. Maybe he bought me the van to soften me up for his car. It worked.

I forgave him for the car. He loves it, it is gorgeous and I am starting to feel less uncomfortable driving in it. It has taken some time.

Thankfully the stipend starting coming before the payments did. 

Then while on a conference trip he came home with a diamond necklace from Tiffany's. That's right. Diamonds from Tiffany. Why? Well this he said was my "thanks for putting up with med school and residency and fellowship" present. He said I had earned it and more. 

I forgave him for the diamonds. I love the necklace. It is gorgeous and I wear it 24/7 even in the shower. At this point he tells me they also had matching earrings but he decided not to buy them. I can't decide if I am disappointed that he didn't, or proud of him for showing some restraint. Mostly proud, my fake diamond earrings I couldn't part with.

Then there was a family vacation after Christmas. Western Caribbean 6 night Disney Cruise for the family, complete with grandparents flown in to join us. We had been planning on this celebratory purchase so I couldn't get upset, but I was beginning to get very uncomfortable with the fact that our bank account should be growing but it looked about the same as it did before.  

It was an amazing trip and our first family vacation that didn't involve staying with our family and visiting relatives. Our kids had been anticipating this trip for months and were so excited, it was priceless. 

We weren't planning on buying anything in the Caribbean, but apparently they have some amazing shopping and no sales tax.  So we left with a high-end watch for me. Not Rolex, but not far from it. Why? Well, my husband is also a watch guy. For his wedding present I purchased him the same brand watch and he has always wanted to get me one. So now I have one. 

It was the Caribbean, the sun, the water, feeling like a million bucks.. had it been on US soil I probably would have put up more of a defense, but I stood there and let him buy it for me. I am wearing it right now, and I even sleep with it on. I love it, he is forgiven.

Oh, yes, there is more. 

For Valentine's day he bought a purse for me. Mind you I have never owned a purse that cost more than $50. I like purses, don't get me wrong, but I never felt the need to have anything nicer than I did. Until I touched it. Is that what leather is supposed to feel like? Amazing. And now I get why people are obsessed about purses. I should use it more, but I am afraid to get it dirty or scratched, and I still feel a little weird wearing it. I am sure it will grow on me. In time.

I know that these purchases aren't every day purchases. I know that they were one time purchases being made in quick succession. But there are the million other little expenses that all add up. Eating out more often, buying whatever we want at the grocery store, our attitudes about money and spending are changing... and they have changed faster than I want them too. You would be amazed at how quickly you can adapt.

I think that is what I meant in my previous post about wanting to freeze time. I want things to stop for just a moment so I can wrap my head around what we have now and get it under some semblance of control before we jump into yet another round of wheel of fortune.

I am not a materialistic person, or I never thought I was, and now I feel like I might come off that way to the people around me - but I don't want to be.  See the problem?

A universal truth has been made perfectly clear to me: your expenses will always rise to meet your income unless you are a diligent task master over your budget AND budgets have to be worked out together not alone. 

I have always known that, but I let myself take a little break after he started getting his stipend because I felt that we deserved the respite and now I am feeling the effects. Even when I had worked out a budget it was too stringent and he wasn't on board with it. It was his (our) money so he had a right to decide how it was going to be spent too.  And it was the first time in our married life where we actually had the room to make decisions about "extra" money. What is there to talk about when you only have enough to keep a roof over your head, food on the table, and clothes on your back?

Even so, I have put him on a spending fast. I think he has worked everything out of his system so it might not be too painful. He isn't allowed to make any other purchases until our savings account reaches a specific number. Our anniversary is today and I have asked that under no circumstances he buy my anything. What I want is to see our savings account grow between now and the time we move. And for that matter, every day thereafter.

I have always had a high need for financial security. I think that is one of the reasons I have fought so hard to keep us out of consumer debt. Remember the life/disability insurance we got for Christmas? It is an expensive gift that keeps on giving every month, but it has been the best present he could give me. 

This was a long post! Thanks for sticking around and listening to my ramblings:-) Hope to see you back here Monday morning for another great edition of Medical Mondays!

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32 comments:

  1. Thank you for this post and your honesty. Honestly it is something I worry about for us in the future. Something here and there is one thing but habits that increase every day overall spending scare me. kudos to you for getting back on track. You will find your balance once again.
    Chey xo

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    1. I worried about it too every day.... and then I caught a glimpse of why money can cause so many problems in marriages. It's not just the "not having" that causes problems it is also the "having"! That first purchase was hard. I was upset because I wanted to save, he was tired of saving and wanted to spend some. Coming to some agreement on what we would do and what the trade-offs would be for these decisions was an interesting discussion. I think we are just back on track.... and then I saw the bill for his boards this summer and thought how are we every going to get back to a normal budget when things like this keep springing up!

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  2. I think that your honesty is impressive. I think that money is a funny thing. Purses are something that you will have forever, I imagine. I used to feel funny about carrying an expensive purse, but then, I decided that there's no shame in carrying it, it's materialistic and can be replaced. I feel that there's something about this element of "keeping up with the Jones" unfortunately.. But, just keep with who you are and it will all work out! :) I think no matter how much money is had, it can be spent, no matter what, in all truthfulness. That's the scary part.

    Maybe just take some percentage off the top and have it transferred directly into a separate account and pretend that it is not there?

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    1. I have only worn it 3 or 4 times. I usually just carry a cell phone purse that holds my phone and DL and debit card because the extend of my outings are confined to picks up and drop offs and occasionally the grocery store. So getting used to a purse is something I will need to get used to period. I have heard "if you don't control your money it will control you" - so true!

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  3. Maybe you both did need to 'get it out of your system.' It can be difficult to be on a strict budget for so long, and it must have felt a bit freeing to be able to just spend and not have the stress and burden on you. Maybe it was best this way, living two 'extremes' and then finding a happy medium where you are both comfortable. It's also a big mindset shift that may take time to sink in, just give yourself grace when you feel like you've gone too far, and start again.
    Oh, and yes...leather purses. There may be no turning back on that one, just so you know ;)

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    1. I think my husband really did need to get it out of his system, and I think it is out at this point. But we still need to sit down and come to some agreement on how we are going to live. I had it all figured out and assumed he would just accept it like he always has. We are entering into new territory here. The leather... it is like butter.

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  4. Oh!I forgot to mention, I just kept thinking "wow her husband is really sweet for doing all of this." Although a lot of money may have been spent, the intention behind it was to give you things you couldn't previously afford & you've waited for. So sweet!!

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  5. I totally understand the need to spend. I feel like doing it all the time. Too bad we are still over 6 years away from that moment where I can give in. Enjoy the fruits of your hard work, you deserve to be pampered for everything you have put up with.

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    1. Thank you. I don't know if I deserve that much! I have also come to the conclusion that spending money is much easier than saving:. However, spending provides momentary happiness while savings provides lasting security. I am pretty much accustomed to delayed gratification so saving for the future is now my number 1 priority!

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  6. I love that he bought you a tiffany necklace as a thank you for all that you have supported him through! I'm on the other end (I'm the one becoming a doctor) but I'm realizing how hard it can/will be for my spouse.

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    1. I have always wondered if male spouses have similar experiences being married to doctor. I suppose some things are universal. Best of luck on your journey!

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  7. Thank you SO much for sharing! Just try to enjoy your gifts (which sound fabulous by the way)! I hope he has gotten all the impulse/we deserve it purchases out of his system for awhile though. It is so rewarding to see that savings account grow. I can see us buying a new car when we finally get that attending salary, but my husband never was one for big gifts, so we shall see!

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    1. I really don't know what else he could buy! A house is next on the list, but I am adamant about waiting on that purchase. Luckily he knows that I would be extremely unhappy if he went out and bought one without my approval, so I still have some control over the timing of that one. You might be surprised at the things he buys when he can:-)

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  8. I was smiling all through this post!!! Our experience has been EXACTLY the same! I kid my Doc H, telling him we could never afford for him to retire. He would just sit at his computer and online shop if he was too elderly to walk the mall!
    I'm cheap... except for shoes and handbags. You have to draw the line somewhere. ;)
    ...And you know what??? You're going to need all that stuff. It's part of the "doctor's wife" costume we don from time to time. ;)

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    1. I knew you would get a kick out of this! I am afraid my husband will be the same way. On another conference he went shopping at Tommy Bahama and dropped $500 on shirts. Luckily, he came to his senses on his own and returned 75% of them. I am the one worried about retiring and every time he buys something I think we are never going to save enough to have a comfortable retirement! His attitude has become what is the purpose of money if you can't enjoy it? Need to find that middle ground that makes us both happy. Doctor's wife costume - that's assuming I ever get out of the house!

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  9. I am so glad you shared THIS post! Makes me feel better about my consumer debt (in residency) and continues to bring some ease of mind to me. I believe there is no way out of "treating" ones-self to the finer things in life when you work so hard for so long. My in-laws lived like paupers taking minimal loans and cooking/sewing from scratch. They went NUTS (brand new house, 2 new suburbans and 4 kids in school along with ridiculous international trips) the moment my FIL was DONE. We have decided to live a modest middle class lifestyle (aka we look like rich residents but in fact we are modest by American Middle Class standards). I bought myself TWO fancy handbags when my recent baby was born. I couldn't take the stress and I burned through quite a bit of credit in 10 minutes. Our new bad habit is we eat at fancy restaurants on date night which we do at least once if not twice a month. Our life is so stressful I order at least 2 cocktails with top shelf liquor because my gag reflex is damaged from college with the cheap stuff. No matter how you slice it when you are stressed out, living down to the wire, you will have to unleash the beast. I agree with Emma that you now have your doctor's wife costume. Wear it proudly and don't forget the fancy sunglasses. Just make sure they are polarized sunglasses or you will burn your retina's looking cute and dainty=)

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    1. It is a hard impulse to fight and I am sure it happens to more people than will admit it. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone! I bought my husband a pair of polarized glasses - I never knew sunglasses could cost so much. Mine have always been $10 at Ross!

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  10. I love your honesty with this post. Thanks for that :) I imagine it is hard to write about the greatness when you have been writing so long about the challenges. Your husband sounds like a great partner and you should feel lucky that he is thinking about BOTH of you AND your family throughout this next, exciting step. You all deserve it.

    The cheating analogy is such a great one (obviously as long as its not true)! Never thought of it from that perspective.

    XO

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    1. He is amazing, and I am a very lucky woman. He has always been very generous and I should have known he wouldn't be able to help himself when he finally had the means to do what he has always wanted.

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  11. I almost started crying after reading this--I felt so, so happy for you (and for your husband because he's obviously been holding back for so long)! I know you didn't need all those things to be happy, but it must be so nice to feel a bit pampered and also be able to breathe knowing these purchases aren't breaking you. My husband and I have been married for almost 12 years, we have four kids, and he graduates with his MD/PhD in June. Only 6 years of residency/fellowship left! He's going into radiology so things won't be nearly as bad for us as they were for you, but I've already told him that he's taking me to Europe for our 20th wedding anniversary!

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    1. I think after 20 years Europe is a great way to celebrate. And luckily you'll have a job by then:-) It was nice to feel pampered, and also to know that I don't need them to do be happy. Somethings aren't as big of a deal as I thought they would be. Thank you.

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  14. Maybe you w should take the Dave Ramsey program class, it is religious based but I took it and I'm agnostic. He has the seven baby steps to financial freedom. Baby step one:$1000 emergency fund if you don't have one. BS2: Pay off the debt starting from the smallest to the largest. BS3: Go back and fully fund your emergency fund of 6 to 8 months of savings. BS4: Starting funding your retirement. BS5:Start a fund for your children's education, BS6: Pay off your home, BS7: Give back.

    If you still have debt or do not have your EF done, you should not be buying gifts, period. Dave classes are fun because he is hilarious and it is great for a couple to do together. You can find a class near you. Check out his site and listen his radio broadcast on Fridays to hear people scream, I'M DEBT FREE!!!!!!!!!

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