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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Money Conflicts In a Blended Family

Written by  Patricia Lawrence Pomposello, LCSW

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QDear WholeFamily Counselor,

I've been in my current marriage for 12 years. I had two children prior to this marriage, and they left home years ago. We have two small children in the current marriage ( 8 and 11).

My husband recently told me that he wanted me to agree to a Will, whereby he would divide our assets in thirds (upon his death): 1/3 to our son, 1/3 to our daughter, and 1/3 to me.

He has this awful accusation that he states frequently -- I love my older children more than my younger ones, and he is afraid I will give them his money that rightfully belongs to his children.

He insists that our money is his since he earned more than I throughout the marriage. He is also bothered that I recently took a year off from work because I was not feeling well (rheumatoid arthritis), and he constantly complains to everyone that I should go and get a job (even though he had originally said this was ok).

I feel very betrayed, because he doesn't tell me where our money is and I trusted him to do the best for us. I am also worried about being crippled and left with no funds some time in the future. When I told him that OUR assets were not his to give, he cursed me out.

We really don't have a great marriage in other areas either. I feel like he only values me for the money I bring in. I love my children equally. What do I do?

ADear Worried,

I am feeling the sense of betrayal and frustration that your letter so clearly conveys. You trusted your husband to handle your joint finances, and now you are left in the dark as to where the assets are. Furthermore, he wants to make sure that you will not have control over much if he were to die. He wants to cut out your older children from his will since they are not his biological children and he is no longer willing to be sympathetic to your need to take time off from work due to your illness.

When you told him that the assets were "ours" rather than just his, he became verbally abusive. You don't say what state or country you are living in, but I know that states vary in their view about shared assets. I would suggest that before you sign anything, you obtain some good legal counsel to help you know what your rights are as a wife. Too often, women are in the dark concerning finances. This definitely stands in the way of mutual support in a marriage. It is important for both people to understand where the money is and how to allocate it together. Since he is unwilling to share this information with you, you need to learn what your legal rights are in order to know what your negotiating strength might be.
Too often, women are in the dark concerning finances. This definitely stands in the way of mutual support in a marriage.

Too often, women are in the dark concerning finances. This definitely stands in the way of mutual support in a marriage.

You say that you don't have a great marriage in other areas either and I am wondering if you have done any couple's counseling or even if your husband might be willing to do that. Do you love him? Do you want to work on finding a way to make this marriage grow into its potential? Perhaps you might write him a letter. You can find help with this in our letter-writing section. Only if it is true, you might tell him that you deeply love him and you want to find a way to work on your marriage so that you can both have what you want. Suggest that you find a counselor who can help you reestablish the love and tenderness that you once felt together and negotiate through the difficult tensions around money that are getting in the way of your being close to one another.

I would not suggest trying to talk this over with him on your own at this point given that he has shown that he can become quite abusive if you disagree with what he is saying. In order for a negotiation to be successful, both parties have to be willing to be open to hear what the other is saying. Your safety is of the utmost importance. Talking this over with the guidance of a counselor would offer you a calm presence to help him remain calm as well.

In any case, I would urge you to find yourself a good therapist to talk with who can support you in making decisions and facilitate your growing in the areas that you have set aside in lieu of making peace in your family. I wish you all the best in your journey. Please keep in touch and let me know how it is going.

Sincerely,

Patricia Lawrence Pomposello, LCSW

Last modified on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 11:41
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Patricia Lawrence Pomposello, LCSW

Ms. Patricia Lawrence Pomposello is a psychotherapist, specializing in couple and women issues

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