Skip

How do I tell my husband about my secret savings account?
December 8, 2009 9:37 AM   Subscribe

Before we were married, I set aside money because I thought I might have to leave him. He changed and I stayed. Now we have an emergency and we need to use the money. How do I tell him where it came from?

Before we were married, he was sometimes emotionally abusive and I was afraid he'd become physically abusive, so I set money aside in case I had to suddenly leave. It was never a huge amount. He went to therapy, got on medication, and we went to couples counseling. He is no longer abusive and I married him. I love him absolutely and am committed to the relationship and this money is not a safety hatch.

He knew about the account before the wedding, because I used it to save for the honeymoon and deposit gifts for the wedding. He has obviously forgotten about it and I have not said anything because I was waiting for a real emergency (he is not very responsible with money and I did not want him to spend it on things we do not need). I have been unemployed for months and he is barely employed. We are scraping by for now but we are going to have to get some cash fast. I only have about one months rent in the account.

We have been seriously stressing about money lately, so he will be furious if I'm like "oh by the way I have this amount saved up that I didn't tell you about." I am not afraid he will be abusive, just angry. I am afraid he won't trust me. I was honestly not trying to keep this money for my own purposes, I was saving it for a dire emergency, and this is it. Now I feel like I've waited too long to say something without him getting upset.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Tell him the truth.

Whatever immediate problems you bypass by telling him anything else are outweighed by the complications and emotional burden of lying.

It'll be a rough conversation, but it sounds like your relationship can take it.
posted by MrVisible at 9:41 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


How do I tell him where it came from?

Just tell him you had a rainy day fund that you set aside when you were working and that you are only willing to touch in the case of a dire emergency. He doesn't need to know "why" you have one, it's an all-around smart thing to do.
posted by spaltavian at 9:41 AM on December 8, 2009 [17 favorites]


Maybe this is a case where simple is best. "I set up this account long ago as a rainy-day thing and it looks like it's time to use it." Don't make a big deal, like it was an supersecret hidden account, and don't be contrite or apologetic, just matter-of-fact. I think it would harder for him to get mad about it then.
posted by 6550 at 9:44 AM on December 8, 2009 [23 favorites]


Do you have family that might have given it to you?

I would not tell him about it unless absolutely necessary. You do not know when you might need it again.
posted by winna at 9:47 AM on December 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


He'll remember it once you mention it, don't you think? Something like, "Hey, remember that fund I set up for the honeymoon, etc? For a while there I was putting money into it after the wedding, in case we had an emergency. I think we're in an emergency now. Let's use it."
posted by cooker girl at 9:48 AM on December 8, 2009 [19 favorites]


Well, as painful as it might be, nothing works better than the truth.

If he knew about the account before you were married (and, I assume, did not go ballistic then), it should not be a big surprise now. You could couch it in a "You remember that account I had before we were married? I had completely forgotten about it..." way (I know...it's not exactly the truth, I guess...)
Unless, of course, you've been adding to it all this time. Then there might be some explaining to do.

If you are truly having an emergency, I should think he'd be grateful for the unexpected financial help. In the end, though, if you truly need to tap the money, you'll just have to accept however he reacts.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:49 AM on December 8, 2009


Your note is making me sad, because I've been there. Even though he isn't emotionally abusing you now, you're still cowering because of his past abuse *and his current willingness to express anger in a way that scares you.* In an ideal, equal, emotionally safe marriage, you wouldn't be so terribly worried about him getting angry at you. Ideally , if he were really all the way supportive now, you could say, "Look, you used to be abusive to me. Isn't it wonderful I don't need this $ anymore, because I'm no longer ambivalent." I think that ideally, he should know that it was because of his abusive actions that you really needed this fund. You did nothing wrong and if he is truly different now, then you will have to stop walking on eggshells. Remember, you did nothing wrong by keeping this account. If you're still afraid of his anger over this, then either you are still a bit traumatized from before, or he hasn't really taken full responsibility for how he treated you before. This is really harder than the question at hand. I hope this helps you think things through without an explicit "trick" to tell him about the money.
posted by fullofragerie at 9:52 AM on December 8, 2009 [21 favorites]


He knew about the account before the wedding... He has obviously forgotten about it

If he forgot about it he doesn't seem to attach a lot of importance to it; also, it doesn't sound like a huge amount of money. If I were in his shoes it would be more of a relief than upsetting to find there was a rainy day fund out there for us.
posted by TedW at 9:53 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


white lie saves the day...

"It's an emergency fund I've had for a long time that I didn't want to use unless it was absolutely the last option, and now we need to use it."
posted by gonna get a dog at 9:58 AM on December 8, 2009


I am usually for telling the truth. But here, why? You don't want him to be hurt. Just tell him you want to put your "rainy day fund" into the mix. He'll be thrilled. There is no need to add drama here.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:03 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I should think your husband would be so delighted to hear you two have more money than he thought that the delight will outweigh any unhappiness over the reason you initially saved it.

But that you should feel this anxious over disclosing the information is worrisome. I hope that you aware of any ways in which your marriage may still be lacking and that you two find your way to being able to trust each other more fully.
posted by orange swan at 10:07 AM on December 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


I would tell him something along the lines of just what you laid out to us in your post. Your reasoning seems respectful of your own doubts at the beginning of your relationship (which he most likely came to accept during therapy), it seems respectful of his reportedly honest and successful attempts at changing, and the reasons for your saving the account seem respectful to your current marriage and situation. What more can you do really, than try to be honest and express your respect for all involved and the situation?

In relationships, there are lots of tricky and less than ideal situations. It's complicated terrain and perfect decisions are almost always beyond reach. That's OK. No matter the level of complication, your best decisions will always include respect, honesty, and communication.
posted by nickjadlowe at 10:10 AM on December 8, 2009


If the amounts we're talking about are really so small (and one month's rent isn't much!), then could you tap the fund gradually and use it to pad the family finances in inconspicuous ways-- paying cash for some groceries, for instance, or paying off the electrical bill or whatever? Depending on how strictly he keeps track of the budget, he might not even notice the influx of cash except as an imperceptible lightening of the cloud. Or could you, as Winna suggests, get a family member or friend to "lend" it to you (letting them in on the secret, of course) "upon promise of repayment at some later date"?

I'll go ahead and disagree with those here who're recommending that you just come clean about the whole thing, or present it to him as an emergency fund you've been secretly saving. If your relationship already suffers from trust issues centred around money, then it'll be a good idea to work those out in therapy at some point in the future, but you don't need everything to come to a huge ugly head in the middle of what's already a stressful time for you both. Besides, once you've admitted to being in possession of secret wads of cash, how do you know he'll believe you that this is the end of it? Do you really want to go ahead with a partner who always vaguely suspects that you've got lots of money around that you could give him, but won't?
posted by Bardolph at 10:11 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just tell him you want to put your "rainy day fund" into the mix. He'll be thrilled.

I should think your husband would be so delighted to hear you two have more money than he thought that the delight will outweigh any unhappiness over the reason you initially saved it.

I think that it sounds like he will be at least somewhat upset, even if he doesn't suspect that this was money set aside in case of a breakup. It sounds like at this point he operating under the assumption that they are sharing all of their finances and that there are no secret accounts, even secret accounts that turned out to be useful.

To use an analogy, imagine that two people were lost in the woods for days and eventually almost completely ran out of food. Then, after a while of desperately trying to get by on what little food they had left, one of them admitted that they had kept a secret stash of food the whole time. The other person would be happy that they had more food than they thought, but also would probably feel upset that it had been kept from them, and maybe would even have lingering doubts about whether or not the secret stash had been meant to be shared with them at all.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:30 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm with the others that are worried about a possible temper tantrum over what is, ultimately, a good thing. You should have no cause to feel like that. That said, if you're really scared of his reaction and need to lie to protect yourself, I'd present it in a "hey, I remembered that account from back when, so I checked..." Maybe say you had it fed on auto-withdraw making it easier to forget about?
posted by medea42 at 10:38 AM on December 8, 2009


You don't have to mention the account. Get the money and tell him your mom reminded you about some savings bond your great aunt left you that you'd forgotten about. It's a white lie.

You should always keep that savings account on the side. Don't tell anybody about it.
posted by anniecat at 10:40 AM on December 8, 2009 [4 favorites]


If he forgot about it couldn't you have too? "Hey, honey! I was freaking about our bills and going through everything I could find and I found this account. I am paying next months rent with it!"
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:41 AM on December 8, 2009


He doesn't need to know the original motivations behind this savings. I think straight-forward, nonchalance ("I guess it's time to break into that emergency fund") is the best route here. I also think it's valid that you have a private savings account that's yours alone, providing it was funded with your discretionary money and could just have easily been spent on non-essential items like books, music, and non-work clothes. Even in shared financial situations, each person usually has a portion set aside for their personal use alone & is not expected to provide an accounting of how they are managing and spending it. Also, even though it will be life-changing money in your current situation, it's not like we're talking about a huge sum of money, either. At most your rent is probably a few thousand dollars which is a far cry from anything above $5k.

There is a possibility that he might be upset you kept it from him and that you would be the one to decide if and how to use it, but I think the way your present it will greatly influence just how upset he will be. Honestly, for the most part, I don't feel like you've done anything wrong here. If this is the money that would have been spent on a whimsical or "luxury" item, & instead you chose to put it away into a savings account, that's completely your right, and good for you because it's going to save the day for you and your husband.
posted by katemcd at 10:48 AM on December 8, 2009


As someone above said, the fact you're so worried about how badly he may react to what is essentially good news makes me wonder about how he's "changed" and he's no longer abusive.

Please don't think you are going to somehow trigger or cause him to revert to that behavior. If it happens, it was always there.
posted by rokusan at 10:49 AM on December 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


So you waited too long and he's going to be upset? Big deal. Since you're coming forward with it now, in a moment of crisis, he'd be wise to get over his anger fast. You deserve a pat on the back. Sticking to the truth will be better than trying to invent a story about where it came from. Being evasive now would be the one way to undermine his trust in you.
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:50 AM on December 8, 2009


I'm with spaltavian - surprise him with the good news that you're a good saver, and you're prepared for the rainy day that you thought might be coming. You're not even lying, in my estimation. You're just generalizing the original concept of "rainy day" that you've imagined.
posted by Citrus at 11:00 AM on December 8, 2009


Nthing much of what's been written above: Be non-chalant; invoke the "rainy day" fund; explain that you were hoping matters wouldn't come to the point of spending from it, but now they have; don't specify that you had collected it because you thought you might need to suddenly escape from him.

> so he will be furious if I'm like "oh by the way I have this amount saved up that I didn't tell you about."

That's really not a good reason to be furious. No-one's perfect, of course, but if you expect fury to be his response to unexpected good news, it sounds like there are some additional issues to consider, once this crisis passes.
posted by darth_tedious at 11:27 AM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


The other person would be happy that they had more food than they thought, but also would probably feel upset that it had been kept from them, and maybe would even have lingering doubts about whether or not the secret stash had been meant to be shared with them at all.

Yes, but the fact of the past abuse changes things. I think that part of truly changing is fully understanding how he treated her back before their marriage, and understanding that there would be consequences from that, including her not knowing, at the time, whether he would change, or whether she'd have to leave.
posted by palliser at 11:49 AM on December 8, 2009


Tell him the truth . It might be rough in the begining but will be much better in the end.
posted by majortom1981 at 11:55 AM on December 8, 2009


You don't have to mention the account. Get the money and tell him your mom reminded you about some savings bond your great aunt left you that you'd forgotten about. It's a white lie.

You should always keep that savings account on the side. Don't tell anybody about it.


I agree with this. I hate to be paranoid, but what if he goes off his meds? He's not that responsible with money, either. Love him with your whole heart, and love yourself too by protecting yourself.

Good luck.
posted by kathrineg at 12:24 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


He already knew about the account.

Just be honest: "Honey, remember that account I used to pay for the honeymoon? It still has a bit of money left in it that I was saving for an emergency, and I think now is that time."

What is the problem? If he really forgot about it, it's clear he doesn't care that much about it.
posted by asciident at 12:46 PM on December 8, 2009


Some of the advice from people who seem not to have experienced emotional abuse is staggeringly bad.

I've suffered some of the cruelest behaviors at the reminding of something that my abuser had forgotten. Or just decided was important at a time convenient to their purposes.

This question isn't about the money, it's about eliciting a specific response from an individual with a history of exhibiting abusive behavior.

As they say, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Honey, this wad of cash is not a wad of cash. I know you want to never need it, but if you're certain that he'll be angry about it's existence, you still need this account.

I'd be less freaked out on your behalf if you were saying, 'we had a rainy day fund but I spent it. How do I tell him?' because then he'd have a right to be disappointed.

Having been through the wringer of emotional abuse, I need to remind you that as far as your telling of events, you didn't screw up. He did.

I hope you find a comfortable solution to this financial issue. Feel free to send me a me-mail, or to use a throw away email to contact me. This isn't your fault. No part of this guy's anger problem is your fault.
posted by bilabial at 1:17 PM on December 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm with bilabial here. You seem to be walking on eggshells, as fullofragerie said. You're scared of him getting angry about the account, and it's important for you that we think (and maybe that you convince yourself or mentally prepare to convince him) that you're 100% sure you don't need it and that you weren't saving it for your own private use.

I think it's always smart to have at *least* a month's worth of cash saved up just in case, in your private stash - in case your partner snaps one day, or for another emergency of a personal nature where you might not be able to rely on him (especially in your case given that he's a spender!).

So, my advice is to keep your savings and instead find some way to make a little extra money to contribute. Take a survey in exchange for cash, scour Craigslist, take jobs that are "below" you or part-time or short-term, sell some stuff you don't need, maybe use credit cards or take out a small loan (I just heard about peer-to-peer lending sites like Prosper and Lending Club, which may or may not be a good route).
posted by lorrer at 2:15 PM on December 8, 2009


I would be upset if I were to find out my wife had an account secret from me. I would also probably have trust issues later about our account balances and where our money was going - more secret accounts? Saving up for up and leaving me one day? I know the answer is no to that one, but knowing sometimes can't erase a nagging irrational fear.

I'm going to suggest acting like you thought he was aware of it the whole time, and that like you, he wanted to keep it in reserve as long as possible. One day while making out the bills, say, "Well, it looks like we may have to finally use up that honeymoon/etc fund. I know we wanted to save that for emergencies, but I think we're in one. What do you think?" That makes it about the use/don't use question and not about "I've got a secret." Be surprised (but no overacting) that he forgot about it, then all "bonus, free money! I'm so glad you aren't mad at me for wanting to use it, I was afraid to mention it."
posted by ctmf at 6:24 PM on December 8, 2009


« Older How to spend part of a short t...   |  How can I get writing and edit... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.


Post