I’m a 62-year-old woman, married for 20 years to the love of my life. I stuck with him through ten years as "the other woman." After his divorce, we married, and he promised me we’d never fight about money.
I’ve worked since high school. I’m a college graduate and experienced manager. Recently, my health deteriorated, and I’ve been unable to work.
His promise about money also changed since my illness and his retirement. We own two properties, have investments, but he’s taken away all of my financial freedom.
I’m facing imminent major surgery and am hoping to receive long overdue disability benefits. Meanwhile, he’s taken my debit card away and I have to ask him for money for gas and everything else. It’s very demeaning.
When I try to reason with him he goes crazy. I have nowhere to go and will be facing months of recovery.
Worried and Upset
You haven’t stated whether you have your own bank accounts and whether when you married you signed a pre-nuptial agreement e.g. such as granting your husband full ownership of the house.
But I would hope that you do have some money of your own and legal rights to the assets gained within your marriage.
You can learn your banking situation by calling your bank manager, and a lawyer would tell you your financial rights within the marriage. Even if you were bedridden for a while, I’d hope you could call and/or email these two sources of information.
If you have any close relative or friend you trust, get support for insisting that your husband return your debit card and help reaching advisors. If his controlling behaviour increases, notifying a lawyer may become even more necessary.
Also research where there’s a government ombudsperson’s office that deals with seniors’ concerns that you can contact.
There’s another perspective on this, that I ask you to consider: If this is a major change in your husband’s treatment towards you, after many less-conflicted years, he may also be undergoing his own changes, e.g. increased anxiety, worry about your health, some negative effects on his own mental health.
I’m not making excuses for him, just adding possibilities as to why he’s behaving this way. If you do get into a legal wrangle with him over your access to funds, you may have to insist that he get a medical checkup.
For now, put your thoughts to healing from the upcoming surgeries. It’s natural that you’re feeling most vulnerable at this point, but you’ll be able to deal with these issues better when you’ve regained some strength, physically and emotionally.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the growing problem of Parent and Grandparent Alienation:
Reader – “The heartache that one feels, resulting from not seeing a beloved grandchild, is so wrenching!
“You have no idea how difficult and literally impossible it can be to work at the relationship with adult children who deny access to your grandchildren, once an estrangement has taken place.
“I belong to a Grandparent Alienation Support Group. There are 100,000 grandparents in Ontario, Canada alone and 300,000 grandchildren who are being deprived of contact.
“This needs to be out in the public more so people can be educated.”
Ellie – This problem has also become widespread in the US, where 1.7 million Americans become grandparents every year, according to Alienated Grandparents Anonymous Incorporated.
It’s website states, “Alienation is about power and control, considered mind control within the family.” The group believes that it begins with the “undermining daughter-in-law, daughter, son-in-law, or son.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the ex-husband who’s inconsistent in seeing his kids and making child support payments (Oct. 6th):
Reader - “It was suggested that the divorced woman re-visit the court, even though it’s “costly, time-consuming and frustrating," without noting that the family court system is very broken.
“It doesn't have the clout to ensure children are cared for financially because there's no follow-through.
“Meanwhile, the ex is the instigator! His passive aggressive behaviours are totally his choice. American author and domestic abuse consultant Lundy Bancroft in, Why Does He Do That? says, "He learns how to hurt her through what he doesn't do, instead of through what he does."
“Neglect is abuse. He does it because the system allows it. He doesn't even have to arrange his payments.
He needs to support his children, financially (and relationship-wise). That's what courts should be ensuring without the victim having to go after the perpetrator.”
Tip of the day:
Being controlled financially calls for getting legal/financial advice.