Should I stay or should I go?
April 29, 2012 1:42 AM   Subscribe

Husband's mental health problems led him to compulsively spend over £27,000 (about $44,000) while I supported both of us for three years. I know he'll work hard on therapy, but I don't know if I should divorce him. Should I try and forgive? [warning, long!]

I've been with my husband for ten years, married for 3.5 years. I'm 29f, he is 28m. We didn't live together before marriage (his choice, not mine).

My husband's always worked a low-paid job he loves. It pays less than one-third of my salary. He has Asperger Syndrome and while he is very socially aware compared to others with AS, he is rigid in his ways, verbose, very literal, and has some problems with everyday tasks (eg, not flooding the kitchen counter while making tea), among other things.

Like a damnable miracle, though, he inherited £27,000 (about $44,000) from an old family friend just after our wedding. We agreed that he'd use it to finish driving lessons and buy a car to get to more jobs, more easily, and save the rest.

I didn't keep tabs on this, because I trusted him. This was naive, but I knew him to be fairly reliable in other areas, and I thought that meant he'd be responsible with money, too.

I paid most of the bills, as he didn't earn much, and that his savings were, well, savings. I supposed that frugality now would leave him and me a nice bonus for a house, or retirement, or for starting a business.

For the next three years we lived in a small, rented studio flat. This was Hell for me: I hated the lack of privacy and the lack of space. It caused far more stress than if we'd had a proper bedroom and more space. I also scrimped a lot, and didn't go out much or pursue more expensive hobbies.

(I also gave up a Masters in my favourite field, that because of the stress it was causing to our marriage (studying in a studio flat was really tough, and my husband felt ignored while I worked). I am still frustrated about the whole business.)

We did move to a rented one-bed flat a few months ago, and I am far happier. I thought things were on the up.

A week ago he made a confession that he'd spent all of the £27,000. On stuff like gifts, books, magazines, meals out, collectibles, charity donations, petrol, etc etc etc and I blew up at him.

I was furious FURIOUS FURIOUS that I'd been living in a cramped studio flat that made me miserable for three years when just an extra £100 a month or so from him would have let us move to a flat with a bedroom, and that he'd let me pay most of the bills for years while he frittered his money away. There is no end to my resentment and anger right now.

He believes he has compulsive spending problems brought on by trying to escape memories of highly traumatic bullying as a child (I believe this could be the case, and the little he's told me about the bullying scared me witless.) He wants to see a counsellor and work on his problems. (He has successfully already done this over the past year with regards to OCD and Asperger Syndrome.)

But I feel used and hurt and taken advantage of. I know he will work flat out to fix things, but this has swallowed three years of my life when I supported him financially while he was spending freely.

I don't know if I should trust him at all or even try to forgive him. I need a more impartial viewpoint and would really welcome any thoughts.

tl; dr:
Husband's mental health problems (childhood abuse, OCD, Asperger, compulsive spending) led him to compulsively spend over £27,000 while I supported both of us for three years, and sacrificed a great deal. I know he'll work hard on therapy, but I don't know if I should divorce him or not. I welcome any thoughts.
posted by TriparteGoddess to Human Relations (62 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It sounds to me like the money isn't really the issue here, it's just something you feel like it's reasonable to get angry over. The real issue is all the other stuff. Resentment over living in a small apartment, giving up your Master's degree, and living frugally. You may not have felt like those were things it was OK to take issue with. If you want to make it work, you two clearly need to work on communication. It should have been fairly obvious that £650 a month in excess of his usual earnings were being spent.

That's not to blame you, but if you don't talk about things early on, they become big problems like the one you're now facing.

If you didn't notice anything out of the ordinary on the spending front, it sounds like you two need to have a serious look at your collective budget. Maybe he really did spend most of it on frivolity, but it may well have largely gone to necessities and/or generally improving your collective standard of living, even if not in the way you thought most important. Again, clear communication was called for. Perhaps you were explicit about how taxing your living situation was on you, but you don't specifically say that in your post.

This sounds like something you two can work through, but it will be just that: work. And it will take some adjustment in how you relate to each other. You both need to be more explicitly involved in the common areas of your lives. That doesn't mean you guys can't spend your own money or whatever, but the shared assumptions and responsibilities need to be continually examined, which once again requires good communication.

Yes, it sucks he did that. It's incredibly frustrating to feel like all the responsibility is placed on your shoulders while your partner is pulling in the other direction. It's not the end of the world, though. In the grand scheme of things, it's a minor speed bump if you choose to think of it that way. Just be wary of it being repeated. Take whatever steps you feel are necessary to protect yourself in the future. Give it a while and the sting will probably fade. If it doesn't, that's when it's time to think about calling it quits.

Until you have time to really work those feelings out, it sounds like there are definite plans for counseling, so I think there's hope. You should consider couples counseling to help you two communicate more openly and help you both to share more freely with each other, such that something like this can't sneak up on you again. It really is much easier to handle these things in the beginning. A pie in the face is a lot easier to handle than a piano on the head.
posted by wierdo at 2:12 AM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Trust is fundamental to a marriage, and now you don't trust him. It is possible that you will trust him again.

Did he know how much you were sacraficing? It seems he has a lack of empathy that would give me pause.

How could he spend about 750 pounds per month without you noticing? Was he sneaking around behind your back?
posted by Monday at 2:17 AM on April 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Wow, what a tough situation. I'm so sorry you're facing this.

You don't need to make any decisions right now about divorce. If you aren't sure whether you want to stay or not, you are totally within your rights to say "I'm giving it X weeks/months of working on this this with you, and if I don't feel better by then I'm gone," or "I'm going to stay with friends for a week and do some thinking about this in peace, I'll call you after that." It's entirely up to you.

It's absolutely a divorce-worthy situation if you feel that it is, though. You were making sacrifices to pay most of the bills, to live in a place you hated, and to give up a Masters you loved because of how it made him feel, while he was using his savings pot to buy whatever he wanted and live how he liked? I'd be hit-the-roof furious, and that's without the level of deceit that must have been involved. You would probably have noticed if he'd been spending that kind of money openly, so how come you didn't? Was he hiding a lot of these purchases from you? Was he going for meals out daily and then telling you later he'd just had a Pot Noodle for lunch? How many individual acts of dishonesty were there? Can you believe him now when he tells you what he spent it on? Come to think of it, do you know for sure that this money even existed in the first place?

In your position right now, I would be feeling quite conflicted about his childhood trauma/ impulsive spending explanations. I'd be worried and sympathetic about his problems, while also concerned that he might be choosing to frame this in a way that absolved him of responsibility, and I'd also be feeling quite resentful that I was being expected to emotionally support him over this while feeling guilty about that resentment. That might not be how you feel, I don't know. But you want to work this out, I would suggest couples' counselling to deal with where you stand and how you feel, regardless.
posted by Catseye at 3:13 AM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

"He believes he has compulsive spending problems brought on by trying to escape memories of highly traumatic bullying as a child"

One of the wisest things ANYONE has ever told me is this: "i don't give a fuck what your life story is, pretty much everyone knows the difference between right and wrong"

It left me speechless because it was pretty much true. Your husband hid some pretty epic spending from you. It just doesn't add up to me that you didn't see new stuff appearing in your house, calculate that the magazines purchases were starting to become a little indulgent... that there weren't cash machine receipts found in jeans pockets.

I'd be concerned about a gambling problem if truth be told.

But at the end of the day, he knew this was wrong, if I were you I would move in the direction of divorce and count myself lucky that it was his money that he wasted and that I wasn't saddled in debt... I would be concerned that in the long run he was keeping an excuse in his back pocket and that this would happen again- but on credit cards.
posted by misspony at 4:21 AM on April 29, 2012 [57 favorites]

If you have no kids, yes, divorce him, unless you want to be taking care of this "bad kid" for the rest of your life. You are still young, it is not worth it, and he will just come up with more excuses the next time something like this happens. Agreeing with misspony, he had to know it was wrong, and he will do it again when the pressure is off.
posted by mermayd at 4:40 AM on April 29, 2012 [11 favorites]

Well one thing I would consider expecting is that he gets a higher paid job. Right now both of you are prioritising his need to be in a job he loves (that he can't support himself on) over your happiness and need for him to be a partner.

So, he gets a much better paying job, you go back to your masters, he stops the crap over you "ignoring him" and he likes it. If he can't put your needs first for once? Well, at least you will know you are never going to be able to pull on the same end of the rope.
posted by saucysault at 4:56 AM on April 29, 2012 [11 favorites]

The suggestion to change jobs/take on more responsibility should come from him, btw, since is it such an obvious solution. If he is expecting you to tell him what his "punishment" is he has put you in a "mom" role and is further avoiding taking responsibly for his actions.
posted by saucysault at 5:08 AM on April 29, 2012 [13 favorites]

I personally would only continue in such a marriage if given 100% control over the finances, which sounds dreary and miserable.

I'm sorry about your Master's degree. Don't do that again. What do YOU want to do now? What kind of life do YOU want to live? Ignoring him and his problems, what does your ideal life look like?
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:40 AM on April 29, 2012 [7 favorites]

Spending all of the money he received from inheritance is an episode of bad human judgment. Forgiveness is typically encouraged for episodes of moral failure.

If lapse in judgment & lack of considerationon the part of a spouse = go straight to divorce, I'm afraid your setting yourself up for dissapointment in future marriages.

As others have suspected, it really sounds like you are tired of your husband's mental illness and financial power - your email is laced with hints of contempt. The solution to that is not to divorce him, but to warn him about what's really affecting your marriage, and then make your decision.
posted by Kruger5 at 5:51 AM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

He sounds like a child. Still has trouble "not flooding the counter"? Now he's blown a nice nest egg?

You can do so, so much better than this overgrown child. Aspergers ain't an excuse for not growing up, please DTMFA and find an adult to be with.
posted by jayder at 5:54 AM on April 29, 2012 [11 favorites]

I don't know if I should divorce him. Should I try and forgive?

Do you love him? You don't really say in your post.

Does he love you? Does he mostly treat you well? Asperger's is no excuse for flat-out being a dick, but if you stay with him you will need to be able to accept that he's going to have some trouble spots. Maybe his is money, in addition to some of the other day-to-day life management issues you describe. I don't see that anything he's done is unforgiveable, especially if he's willing to go to therapy and you believe he will work hard at it.

Him knowing about your unhappiness with the apartment and not making the mental leap that he could and should do something about it, and his not realizing that he needed to sacrifice a bit of his comfort for awhile and accept the temporary difficulties imposed by your schooling could also be Asperger-related, in the difficulty with empathy aspect. Therapy can help with this, as well as improved communication between the two of you. Your communication with him regarding what you need him to do needs to be very clear, and you need to be very persistent in re-communicating the things you've agreed upon when he backslides. Hints will not work, silent fuming will not work and waiting for him to "get it" on his own will certainly not work.

If you want to stay with him you will need to accept that he's going to need this sort of direction and be willing to provide it without resentment. He's going to have to be willing to take direction from you. If he's a stubborn ass who gets belligerent when he can't do exactly as he pleases you're going to have a tough unhappy time with him; but if he's willing to mostly do what he needs to do to make you happy if only given some clear guidance, your relationship can become pretty good for both of you.

As for the money, there are a bazillion marriages out there in which one spouse handles all the finances, and often it is done for the reason that the other spouse is shit at it. The less financially savvy spouse gets an allowance for his or her needs, and agrees not to (or is prevented) from dipping into savings without running it by the money-handling spouse.

This only works well, however, when the spouse's allowance covers their daily spending needs, including some amount to be spent as he/she chooses on things the other spouse might consider frivolous. Things like gasoline, meals out, magazines, gifts, etc. are legitimate expenses that your spouse should be able to make unless money is genuinely so tight that you really need to super-scrimp to get by.

If you've got enough money to get by and the issue is saving a nest egg, there may need to be some compromise. Your need to have a substantial savings does not trump his need to be able to spend as he likes to a reasonable extent, but his need to spend doesn't trump your need to save either. He'll have to spend less than he'd like and you'll have to save less than you'd like. And you shouldn't scrimp by living in a place you hate if a relatively small amount of money could make you more comfortable.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:57 AM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

If lapse in judgment & lack of considerationon the part of a spouse = go straight to divorce, I'm afraid your setting yourself up for dissapointment in future marriages.

Um, there's more to it than a simple lapse in judgement. This went on over a period of years, during which the OP was putting her own wants and needs on hold. I would be out the door in a heartbeat if my partner broke my trust to this extent because there are partners out there who just plain don't do this sort of shit.

As others have stated, Aspergers is not carte blanche to behave like a child. It seems like your concerns about your spouse's serious breach of your trust are met with "It's because X happened to me." I know people with some pretty scarring shit in their past who never use it as an excuse for poor behavior.
posted by futureisunwritten at 6:08 AM on April 29, 2012 [22 favorites]

This isn't about behaving like a child, children know right from wrong. This is about willfully concealing something he knew to be wrong, hence the betrayal.
posted by Neekee at 6:30 AM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm not good at relationships and I'm not married.

But I don't think the internet can tell you whether or not to get divorced.

I think you have to go ahead and be angry for a while and then see, when your anger burns out, what's left.
posted by bunderful at 6:47 AM on April 29, 2012 [11 favorites]

I have cognitive impairment, of the kind that makes daily tasks and finding my way around a grocery store without getting lost (and then finding my car after?) difficult. I don't know if aspergers would cause or be comorbid with this, but I do think it's worth noting that there ARE "excuses" for not being able to do basic things everyone else think are easy. If you spend any amount of time working with disabled kids and helping them master basic easy tasks throughout the years of their development, it might make you think that calling someone with this impairment an overgrown child who "has no excuse" is cruel and unecessary.

However-- I'm more concerned about the statement, "I was abused so I spent all the money behind your back and kept it secrets"

That does not fly. I think it is possible that will power can be damaged by brain problems and trauma can be related to that-- but if this is how he wants to define the cause of his behavior than he is telling you that his disorder causes him to not have impulse control over compulsive behaviors that deeply harm others. This is a different problem than not being able to work a coffee machine, or remember what he's doing while he's doing it, or complete basic tasks that he's trying to do. This is looking at the option of doing something you think will hurt someone you love, deciding to do it anyway, keeping it a secret, and then doing that over and over again. It's closer to the mechanisms involved in an affair than to being clumsy while pooring milk.

The fact that he went that many years doing something he KNEW to keep secret is really upsetting. I don't really believe in will, I think people who are capable of harming others probably DO have something wrong with them. But we don't have any cures for that. There is some process involving interest and desire for making personal change and possibly therapy and/or meds that can facilitate meaningful change for some people but it's not an exact science and no one really knows how to reliably do that yet.

Also, it's perfectly legitimate to realize that you thought you could handle living with someone who is unable to perform basic tasks or manage life and you really can't. It is ok to realize this is not going to work for you-- even if he hadn't secretly blown a giant nest egg in the midst of a financially strained situation.

As a person with diabilities- I would like to know that any partners I had would feel comfortable knowing if they needed to leave and free to do so. Knowing that someone's behavior is because of a disability doesn't necessarily make it any easier to deal with-- and if he's going to go throwing curve balls of "Well actually I just can't control anything because disability/abuse" there is really no way to trust him.

If I were you, I WOULD consult a professional knowledgable about his condition just so that you can firm up in your mind what is related to disability and what is related to choice. While what we call choice may be affected by disability-- it's still a different problem (doing an impulsive behavior deliberately and keeping it secret over and over). Even if he wants to say his impulse control is impaired-- which is the only part that could be valid, he could have told you the first time he did it. You might have been pissed, but if he came to you and said, "I don't know why I did this, I just really wanted to get my friend a gift/eat out/get my feet pedicured--and I knew the money was there." Then talking about brains and impulse control and past experiences and disorders might have made sense as part of the solution. (Although even at that, it would be ok to leave a person with an impulse control problem because even if honest, who knows what that will ultimately mean?)

I don't manage money well so I don't have credit cards, or checks-- which means I have to deliberately go to the bank and plan out how much I need and look at the balance when I take money out.
Impairment managing money/impulse control around money=possibly legitimate brain problem
dishonesty and refusal to face the problem and try to find a solution and hiding that behind your partners back for years= different kind of disorder

Basically-- is ALL harmful behavior the result of trauma/brain chemistry/something? Maybe. So what? That doesn't get us anywhere productive. We experience something like free will and we need to know our partners are on the same page with capacity to use that for an agreed on criteria of how to treat each other.I do agree with bunderfuls statement above though. Who knows what needs to happen. I surely don't know what your relationship means to you or whether it will be worth staying.
posted by xarnop at 6:59 AM on April 29, 2012 [21 favorites]

I think the core question is: For these years your desire to do a Masters was on hold and you thought there was a pile of money around, why is it you both were not talking about it?

Any problem, pretty much, can be worked through with communication and goodwill. But you need to perceive yourselves as a team. It doesn't sound like you have been; do you want to be?
posted by Zen_warrior at 7:21 AM on April 29, 2012 [9 favorites]

Run like the wind. If you forgive this, then the rest of your married life will be hell. He'll hide more and more things from you, you'll work harder and longer so you don't have to come home, and you will never have a pot to piss in. He's acting like a child, not a man, and if you want to be a mum, great, but babies are lots cuter.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:23 AM on April 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

What in heaven's name are YOU getting out of this marriage?
He's getting financial and emotional support --- you get to give up your privacy, your studies, your financial peace of mind..... I ask again: what are you getting from this marriage?
posted by easily confused at 7:48 AM on April 29, 2012 [13 favorites]

there's a lot of ill-informed answers here, with the dyspraxia that is often associated with the condition called "childish" and suggesting your husband "needs to grow up" as if Asperger's were some kind of Peter Pan thing.
I have been married to an Asperger man for 21 years, together for 27 years. My son is also also on the spectrum and I would say I'm very familiar with the difficulties you describe. None of what you wrote here surprises me and I feel your pain. I've been in very similar situations and have been thought about leaving several times.

I have had to give up one profession, 2 jobs, one country and several friends as a direct result of the syndrome and I have learned to live with those choices, some unwilling. But I have never managed to completely put away the bitterness and it sometimes boils over, as your does right now.

with these specific circumstances, I can quite easily believe it was possible for your husband to spend that amount of money without you being aware of it. The Aspies I know are not great at managing money. If he has in his head that he inherited it, and it was his money, when he wanted something I can see him using it despite what you feel you agreed.

Here's the rub, bullied Aspie's develop a coping mechanisms with NT's that frequently means they agree with something for an easy life, rather than really agreeing with it or buying into it. So while you thought you had an agreement that the money be used for X, that is not really what he bought into. You may get as angry and bitter about this as you clearly are, but if your intention is to stay married to this man then I suggest you try to deal with him as he is rather than how you would like him to be. There are changes he can make but they mostly relate to learned behaviour and re-arranging your life and finances to deal with the condition. You might, for example, ensure that you have control of the accounts and transfer what he needs into a separate one. Aspie's tend to think in quite binary fashion, things are black or white and once they are in one category, no amount of communication or discussion can put them into another.

At no stage did I get the impression reading your question that you conveyed to him exactly how awful your living conditions are to you. Aspies don't do well with indirect communications, you really, really have to be explicitly clear about your needs.

I also didn't see any respect or love, even searching through your anger and bitterness, or any evidence of what is it he brings to your life exactly that made you want to marry him. I know exactly why I stay with my husband, and I know that despite the fact they are still very painful, the sacrifices I made are worth it. But I honestly don't know how we survived the early years when rather uselessly I thought he could "learn" to behave in a more NT fashion. He can't, it's not he doesn't want to, or he doesn't see the pain his actions sometimes cause me, he simply can't. In that sense it's been useful seeing my son grow up and understanding how Aspie's tick because I didn't find the literature very useful. (There's a book called Married to Mr Spock which you might find useful).

my tl;dr for you is: carve out your own needs in this relationship. Put your needs very explicitly first. Do NOT do the NT female thing of indirect communications "Darling don't you think it would be great to have a bedroom?' meaning "I need a bedroom". Just do it. Tell him what the non-negotiable or dealbreaker things are and stick to them.
Decide if the positives of being with your man outweigh the possibility that something as difficult to deal with as this will happen again, because about the only thing you can be sure of is that living with an Aspie will bring challenges like this again

On the plus side I have found the loyalty, honesty, directness, respect, acceptance, love, friendship, shared interests and values enough to outweigh the totally infuriating parts of loving my husband. [I just finished a conversation with a friend of ours who started with, "don't tell me, he missed the flight again, right?]

The one thing about individuals with Asperger's is that they are like tapestries, made up of so many threads of different colours, so many strengths and weaknesses, but all individual. So I don't know how much of this will be useful to you.

He can try meds for the more OCD parts, for example, they might make a significant difference. But at the end of the day living with Asperger's is like living with someone in a wheelchair and insisting in living in a three story house. Nothing will get him walking up a stairs so you install a stairlift. Right now there are huge sensitivities about labelling Asperger's as disabled and I do see great sense in seeing it as a different way of thinking, with some clear advantages over NTs. But to deny that living with an individual with Asperger's can drive an NT person to violence or drink is to bury your head in the sand.

Do you fundamentally respect this man and feel your life was better with him before you discovered this? And I mean RESPECT, as opposed to love? Really think about this.
If even before this you loved him but couldn't hand-on heart say you fully respected him then I do feel you need to start thinking that this relationship will bring you more tears than its worth.
posted by Wilder at 7:49 AM on April 29, 2012 [32 favorites]

I don't know how credit cards and credit histories work in the UK, but if you were in the US I would counsel you urgently to check your credit history and put a freeze on any new cards/transactions so he can't fuck you over further using your own good credit for his bad decisions.
posted by elizardbits at 7:50 AM on April 29, 2012 [8 favorites]

Look. I don't know you. I don't know your husband. I'm a stranger on the Internet who is hardly qualified to pass judgement on your situation. Let alone offer absolution for whatever decision you make. Especially with only one side of a story with a lot left out of it, e.g. where you husband lived before you were married and how that arrangement was paid for. To whatever extent I misinterpret what you've written and therefore get the facts wrong, please accept my apology in advance.

With these caveats, this is how your story reads to me:

You knew your husband had developmental disorders before you married him. You married him knowing that, for example, he couldn't make tea without making a mess. Soon afterward he inherited a sum equal to perhaps a few years worth of his wages. One presumes he finished his driving lessons and bought a car as agreed. Leaving what? £20,000?.

When it came to the rest of the money, for whatever reason, you believed a man with Asperger's Syndrome and OCD, who can only hold a job that pays less than a third of what yours does, could be relied upon to make a sound investment with an amount equal to years worth of his pay packets.

Instead, over the course of the next three years, he proceeds to spend the remaining money. Some on necessities, some on trying to make himself feel better by buying things he wants or through generosity, either to charity or otherwise. Which sounds like exactly the way a man with Asperger's and OCD could be expected to spend such a windfall. Not to mention that one presumes that you weren't entirely excluded from the gifts, dinners out, and other ways the money got spent on other people.

In the meantime, you dropped out of your Master's program at least in part because your flat was too small for you to get your schoolwork done. Still you never once asked for him to make a bigger contribution to the household either out of his inheritance or from his wages, even though just £100 a month would have made a tremendous difference in both your home life and your ability to stay in school.

Then a week ago he confesses the money is all gone. Out of the blue? Or because he asked you for money and you said he should spend some of that £20k he had saved? Or vice versa?

In any case, the money is now gone and you're angry. Mostly at him, and maybe a little at yourself. Yourself because you either didn't notice or ignored the fact that he was spending an extra £500 or so a month. Him because you've lived someplace you hated for years, didn't complete your Master's, and spent your money on bills while he "spent freely." Not to mention having to deal with whatever it was that caused all this to come up last week.

On the question of forgiveness, it seems to me that, naturally and as usual, there's plenty of blame to go around here. Should your husband have been a spendthrift? No, of course not. Should he have been trusted with £20k? Apparently not. Should you have known that? I think so. Should you have asked for him to make a bigger contribution to the household so that you could have lived more comfortably and stayed in school? Yes. Should you have known that your husband had money management issues when you got married? Hard to say for certain, but you apparently knew enough to leave him out of the household finances for the most part. All of which is to say, should you forgive him? I think that, under the circumstances, you kind of have to. Unless you want to be the kind of person that carries a grudge over not quite enough money for a house down-payment being spent instead of saved by someone with a developmental disability.

Now, as to whether or not you should file for divorce, I think the answer is yes. One must presume you love this man, or else you would not have stayed with him for a decade and married him despite his apparent flaws as a mate and partner. Still, you're young enough that you may not have been fully cognizant of what you were getting into marrying a man that has the kinds of developmental problems your husband apparently does. If you can't or won't sign up for that, I think you owe it to both yourself and your husband to end it. It will be difficult emotionally, but unless you're willing to care for him to the extent that it's necessary, it's what must be done.

Good luck no matter what you choose.
posted by ob1quixote at 7:54 AM on April 29, 2012 [18 favorites]

I think Ob-one quijote pretty much nailed it for me, I re-read your question, poster and I was struck by, "I thought" and "I supposed". You cannot assume anything. You must be explicit and communicate everything very clearly.

Does your husband have a formal diagnosis? If so contact your GP and ask for a referral to a specialist centre. Baron-Cohen in Cambridge would be ideal if you're in the UK and nearby. If not, get a referral to get a diagnosis, there are resources available through the NHS, although waiting times are slow.

Explain the strain it's putting the marriage under and see if you can get a recommendation for a therapist who specialises in dealing with marriages like this. You need to read up a lot more about how to communicate with someone with Asperger's to avoid more pain down the line. And if you are thinking of having kids, don't until you've worked out how to ensure communications are stronger, seriously.
posted by Wilder at 8:05 AM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Re: My use of the word "disability" above:

Wilder: "Right now there are huge sensitivities about labelling Asperger's as disabled and I do see great sense in seeing it as a different way of thinking, with some clear advantages over NTs."

I was unaware of this and I regret the error. Please accept my apology.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:06 AM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Money was his. He spent it. He failed to tell you what was going on, you failed to communicate your needs directly. Doesn't sounds like there is a lot of trust or a lot of love in your relationship, and the money really has nothing to do with it.
posted by Happydaz at 8:07 AM on April 29, 2012

Happydaz: He failed to tell you what was going on, you failed to communicate your needs directly.

The OP: We agreed that he'd use it to finish driving lessons and buy a car to get to more jobs, more easily, and save the rest.

The OP was clear what her needs were.

I agree with Wilder, this has nothing to do with whether Aspergers is a disability. Aspergers is in no way an excuse for the squandered money. It's an issue of trustworthiness.
posted by jayder at 8:23 AM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'll be blunt: I don't believe his story of where the money went. £27000 buys one hell of a lot of magazines. If I were in your position, I'd be sniffing around for another explanation - gambling? drugs? another woman? Who knows.

Whether or not you decide to divorce, I think it would be worth talking to a solicitor to find out where you stand and how his actions might affect you legally and financially.

And go finish your master's. Make it happen. You owe it to yourself.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 8:32 AM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

Regardless of whether or not you break up:

(a) Your husband is not capable of taking care of/supporting a partnership. Or money. If you stay with him, you have to take control of him/money like you're his mommy. Clearly he has broken your trust (and I agree with everyone that mental issues/bullying is no excuse to do this wrong for 3 years, and he knew that) and I wouldn't trust him with money again whether you stay or not.

I would probably be inclined to break up with him about this, but he sounds somewhat dependent on you and maybe that's an issue that would make you inclined not to leave, I don't know.

(b) Stop doing years of self-sacrifice on your part--which has clearly made you miserable--all for him. That's where the betrayal comes in. You have been making yourself miserable giving up what's really important to you all for him, and it meant nothing. Stop sacrificing yourself so much for this guy. At the very least, self-sacrifice can make you bitter as hell if you're going hungry so he can eat--and meanwhile he's been sneaking trips to fancy restaurants and you weren't invited.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:39 AM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

It sounds like to stay together, you and your husband would need to have very explicit rules about finances that didn't exist previously. Most married couples either agree to have joint finances and share everything, or to have separate finances, or some combination of the two (i.e. one joint account which pays the bills and everything else separate).

If you could be happy with separate finances and truly not be bothered about what he was doing with the rest of his money as long as he was paying whatever bills you had agreed he needed to pay, then I think you could consider staying with him. From what you have written though, it sounds like you want to have joint finances and that you will be bothered if he doesn't manage to keep savings the way you want or spend whatever he earns the way you want (and of course this assumes that he is paying a fair share of the household expenses). I don't blame you for that as that is the way I prefer things as well. If this is the case then you should leave him, because I don't see that as workable with his situation.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:48 AM on April 29, 2012

Maybe wait and see? You don't have to make a decision right now, do you? Give yourself time to cool off, give him time to try therapy. If in 6 mos or a year, he doesn't seem better or the damage seems irreparable then you can leave.
posted by bananafish at 8:49 AM on April 29, 2012

I think phrasing it as trust is a bad start. You seem to have had a lot of distinct problems with this that existed long before you knew about what he'd done with this money, and what happened here is not inconsistent with the things you already knew about his behavior. Don't worry about trusting him with money; you can't, but you don't need to in order to have a working relationship with him, as long as he can trust YOU with the money. Worry about whether you can accept a long-term relationship with someone with a disability.

I don't think Asperger's is, categorically, a disability. However, if one is non-neurotypical to a degree that prevents holding gainful employment at a living wage, that's disabling. And if you made 3x at much and couldn't even afford a 1-bedroom on both incomes until recently, it's practically delusional to look at his job situation as just something he happens to love, to be honest. You fell for him--there's got to be a reason for that that you aren't sharing, but his contribution to this relationship is never going to be money. The nest egg was always going to be used up at some point.

Given that I'm guessing you would have noticed if he didn't buy the car, at the very least, what you have left is honestly an amount of money that tons of American college students could crank through very easily in nearly four years, without ever making any individual purchase that was obviously unreasonable. Unless he has another apartment somewhere full of hundreds of bottles of laundry detergent or something, it doesn't sound so much like compulsion as just like following a budget requires something he doesn't have. If that planning ability with complex tasks just isn't there, it isn't a violation of your trust. You just happened to not know. You two can plan better for the future, if staying together is something you really want to do, by making sure that things like financial planning are in your court, by mutual consent... but I think you need to accept that he is never going to be a significant financial contributor to the household, and that is going to mean living a lifestyle markedly different from your friends and coworkers.

If he's worth staying with despite that, stay. From your description, you sound like you were deeply unhappy with the finances long before you knew about this, and if that's true, then don't keep waiting around for things to get better.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:15 AM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

you're good to him, you pay the bills, you have the approach of "we're in this together." He doesn't. He inherited money, he spent it. What's yours is shared, what's his is his.

Stop assuming he, or anybody, will do the right thing by you just because you would do the right thing by them. You gave up your degree program. You accepted the small apartment, etc. Decide what you want, what you will and won't give up, what you will and won't accept, and then move forward.

If he's good to you - kind, good sex, fun to be with, etc. If you're better off with him than without him, then stay married, and learn to take care of your own needs more. He, and most people, has baggage. Accept it, do what you can to help him deal with it, but don't let his baggage run your life. Find a boundary, and enforce it.
posted by theora55 at 9:54 AM on April 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yikes. I understand how angry you are - I have been in a very similar situation. Different details, different diagnoses, but yeah. It sounds like you are very used to making do, making sacrifices, and putting other people's needs before your own. I strongly encourage you to get some counseling for yourself! Not couple's counseling, but individual. You need some help in figuring out how to build the life you want.

I will tell you what my therapist told me: "It is good to want more out of life. It is good to not want to be poor and struggling all the time. It is good to want a partner who shares your values."
posted by stowaway at 10:15 AM on April 29, 2012

I would leave him. For 3 years he lied and hid things from you, and ignored your misery. This is a major sustained effort and probably took a lot of work, especially from someone who struggles with daily life. It also means he was thinking of himself only, and not once you. Whatever his troubles, his selfishness is overwhelming. People get away with ridiculous things in life because others let them. Leave him and find someone great who deserves you.
posted by meepmeow at 11:16 AM on April 29, 2012

It's very difficult to say whether you should stay or go because you haven't given any reason why you might want to stay. You've talked about all the things you've given up for this relationship (your education, financial stability) but you haven't said what you've gotten out of it. Are you getting much out of it? Or are you with him because you've been together since you were teenagers and you don't know that there is a more satisfying life out there for you?

Or are you with him out of guilt because you know his life won't be as good without you in it? I ask because you strike me as a giver, someone who is selfless to a fault and who struggles to even know what they want. Are you sacrificing too much for him without getting much in return?

So I think you should try to imagine what your life might be like without him. How do you feel when you picture yourself living alone, supporting yourself, having time to study, having control over your finances, and not having to clean up after someone else? If you want to leave, that's completely acceptable, and that's what you should do.

And I also think it's strange he was able to spend so much money without you noticing. That's almost £25 PER DAY that he spent which is a hell of a lot of money. Are you absolutely sure you have the full picture here?
posted by hazyjane at 11:41 AM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

He doesn't sound like a safe person to have children with.

You are young. Reset and find someone more compatible.
posted by jbenben at 11:42 AM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

He believes he has compulsive spending problems brought on by trying to escape memories of highly traumatic bullying as a child (I believe this could be the case, and the little he's told me about the bullying scared me witless.) He wants to see a counsellor and work on his problems. (He has successfully already done this over the past year with regards to OCD and Asperger Syndrome.)

Wow, it's very convenient for him that he realized all about his deep-rooted trauma right after you caught him doing something inconsiderate and selfish which hurt you tremendously! I look forward to the future psychological breakthroughs he'll experience once you discover him cheating on you.

All sarcasm aside, you're being incredibly naive. If his "compulsive spending problems" were truly caused by trauma, he would have figured it out sometime in the past three years, not immediately upon being caught.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 3:23 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I kinda feel like, "Should I divorce him?" is always a question with one answer -- yes. Because otherwise you'd be asking a different question.
posted by spunweb at 3:33 PM on April 29, 2012

Holy fuck, most people answering here have no clue how someone with Aspergers feels, thinks, responds.
that's not unusual but PLEASE do not treat this as a failure of trust, it is a failure of communication!

think of this like the difference between "chewing the cud" "shooting the breeze" and a legally notarised document, because that's what I see as the difference between being explicit with an Aspie and being indirect. You had not tied down the importance of the disposition if HIS inheritance to your own satisfaction; that is clear.

and for the same people who believe you will find out he's cheating on you, wow! if he is then I can categorically confirm he is not Aspie! In my experience he is more likely to ask your opinion of which woman he should have an affair with.............but hey, I only live with someone like this, the other commentators are projecting based on living with NTs.

Obi one quijote there is no need to apologise, your parsing was fantastic, I'm firmly in the camp that Aspergers is a disability in the same way that being born female in a patriarchal culture is a disability: it varies wildly from rural Afganistan to Seattle.

the commenters for the most part assume Seattle or New York standards when your husband might be closer to rural Bulgaria in communicative terms. That's what I meant by Tapestry.
posted by Wilder at 3:52 PM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

@wilder, really this isn't about how someone with Asperger's feels or responds. This is about whether the OP wants to spend the rest of her life with someone who's like her husband. Just because he's got Asperger's, and that explains his actions, doesn't mean she's obligated to be with him as his wife.

Right now you have a poster who's saying that they're not sure how they feel about a partner who they feel has abused their trust,who they feel has taken advantage of them financially, and who they feel has derailed their professional/academic career. They are asking if they should stay or go. Right now? The answer is no, chica, get the hell out of Dodge, because feeling those three things in an intimate relationship is just toxic.
posted by spunweb at 4:39 PM on April 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

That certainly is a long list of reasons why you are not happy in your relationship.
Do you have a similar list of reasons you are happy in your relationship?

If all you think of this relationship is how miserable it is making you and all the dreams you had to give up to be in it then it sounds like you should leave.
posted by munchingzombie at 5:29 PM on April 29, 2012

I agree that you have profound communication, expectations, and trust issues here. It seems pretty clear to me that you aren't good at establishing, communicating, or maintaining boundaries in an intimate relationship, and that you need a LOT of education on what Autism-spectrum disorders, PTSD, and OCD entail both for the patient and their family.

Let me put it a different way: I'm not on the spectrum (though I have some of the associated features,) and there is no way on earth that I would have navigated a situation like this successfully. I would have bought books and MP3s and chocolate and random stuff - some of which would be bought but never make it to my home, because I'd forget them somewhere - and I would have kept it secret because it was hard to admit I'd screwed up again, and I didn't really feel all that bad since it was my money, right?

It's very easy to justify all kinds of things to yourself when you're perfectly healthy emotionally, but a mood disorder or anxiety disorder can turn that into not even realizing you're doing it. I can tell, in retrospect, that I was hypomanic because I thought everything made perfect sense, but it clearly was non-sensical. I just couldn't perceive that at the time. Similarly, I have a lot of trouble telling whether it's a good idea to buy something or not, and a very hard time paying bills - there are so many steps that I get overwhelmed just thinking about it, I can't remember if I can afford things or not, I don't know if I already have six of the thing I'm looking at, I never remember I need to pay a bill except when I'm in the car driving someplace.

And on top of this Aspies tend to not even notice that they should have felt guilty, or alternatively find it impossible to properly express remorse and fix the situation appropriately. You have to communicate expectations repeatedly and very, very clearly. You may also need to talk through situations that you wouldn't have to with a typical, healthy adult.

Which is not to say you have to put up with this at all.

One of the reasons that I am not in a romantic relationship, besides the overwhelming demands of my illness/recovery and social skills problems, is that I worry a lot about the burden I would place on whoever I was with. Being married to someone with bipolar, or OCD, or PTSD, is really hard. It takes a lot of work, and it's often not fun.

You clearly have a pretty serious issue on your hands, and you seem very stressed out about it. Your husband doesn't have to be bad, and this doesn't have to be an intentional betrayal, for you to choose to leave. I think you'll be able to make a more sensible and emotionally satisfying decision if you talk to an individual counselor and give yourself a few weeks to process this, though.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 5:30 PM on April 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

wolfsdreams01, there is nothing in the OP that indicates that her partner ever lied by commission. Omission, perhaps, but unless there's something more to the story, the OP could have been aware of the level of spending had they chosen to be. Something done completely in the open is not a lie, even if not explicitly stated.

Is that a good way to run a relationship? Hell to the n-o. But that doesn't mean there were any lies involved.

On the bright side, this thread illustrates quite clearly why so many relationships fail because of money. People think about it in different ways and don't communicate about those differences and when they come to light it's all "you lying liar who tells nothing but lies" when the problem is actually that neither partner bothered to communicate.

If my SO and I split because of some unspoken assumption we failed to reach an understanding about, we'd be divorced five times by now. That's not to say that it's in the OP's best interest to stick around. That's something she has to decide for herself, but in the main these things can be dealt with through frank and explicit communication. My understanding is that Aspies are able to relate to that style of communication well enough to get along in a relatively normal relationship.

Obviously, none of us know either of them, so we can't really say he's an irredeemable asshole who happens to have Asperger's or is so stricken with it that the two of them can't have a relationship. We know they can't have a good relationship so long as they continue to relate to each other in the way they have been over the past 3.5 years, but that doesn't mean that it's OMFG DOOOOOOMED!!!1!!!one
posted by wierdo at 5:31 PM on April 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Intellectually, the two of you may have agreed that he would spend the inheritance money on a car and petrol and put 'the rest' in savings. That makes sound sense. But before you were married, your savings and expenses were separate, right? So he basically bought whatever he wanted with his own money, and you did the same with yours. Then you get married and he inherits the money very close to that time. So the two of you actually hadn't done a lot of working together with a combined budget before.

You move into this tiny studio flat you hate. You decide to get your Master's. You didn't do that before you were married, but after, so you were planning to use this combined income for your schooling, right? So you made a choice to live there and go to school rather than live in a bigger place. I don't think you can hang all the blame on him for your being miserable in the smaller flat, then.

Also, when it got too tough to study, you quit your Master's--at the time, did you consider moving to a bigger place instead of quitting? Did the two of you talk about that, and decide you couldn't afford it? Did he actually pressure you to quit pursuing the Master's, or pressure you into all the frugalities, or did you just assume you had to do these things?

I know you feel you were making sacrifices for the sake of your marriage, and I respect that. I know it must have been very hard on you to do without so much, and now you feel bitter that you did so while apparently he was living it up or whatever. But if you did these things because you felt you should, I think you have to take some agency for the choices you made even though you (rightly!) feel you got the short end of the stick here.

Your husband may have been deliberately lying, or he may have just been living the way he'd always lived before the two of you married, when he bought what he wanted when he could afford it. He knew he wasn't saving it all, and he was lying by omission, but he may not have realized how much he was dipping into that inheritance. And he did admit what he'd done when it was gone.

The biggest problem is that it doesn't sound like, even with all you did put into the marriage, either of you really put a lot of effort into communicating with each other until all this came to a head.

I'd suggest you go to counselling together. You need to be able to vent every bit as much as he needs to. He didn't tell you about the bullying or spending the money until it was too late. Why? You were miserable in your tiny flat and you gave up your educational dreams for him, and you need to speak to him about that, and how much his selfishness hurt you. And the two of you need someone to help you figure out if there is any way to salvage your relationship.
posted by misha at 6:46 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Hey, everyone: please don't break off into one-on-one debates among yourselves. Go ahead and offer your advice to the OP, which may be counter to someone else's suggestion, but you don't need to point out that you think member X is wrong, or debate with another commenter. We're here to help the poster.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:44 AM on April 30, 2012

You were 19 when you met an 18 year old. That's very young. You've invested 10 years in a relationship.

you told us why you are really furious right now and asked if you should contemplate divorce.

I too was 19 when I met my partner. My best friend once asked me: "if you knew then what you know now about the pain it would bring, would you have stayed?"

In trying to answer her I realised what an impossible question this is, like your question, there really isn't an answer.

If you leave this man and find someone who is NT, earns three times what you earn, communicates pro-actively with you, insists on funding your Masters and makes you feel loved and cherished.... and then 5 years on becomes chronically seriously ill....would you leave him because coping with a serious illness on a day-to-day basis is so hard?

no matter what you choose life throws curve balls and we humans always think the grass is greener on the other side.

from my experience I suspect you'll start to find and answer to your question in the real reason why you married him. Really think about why you did that.

feel free to memail me if you think it will help
posted by Wilder at 1:30 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I also saw no lies, and any derailing of a Master's is not clear. In the absence of clear communication AspiePartner will have accepted whatever reasons NTPartner gave for giving up study, and even a statement like " I just can't study successfully in this small studio-space" will not have been read as "we really need to get a bigger place".

I find it heartbreaking that if the poster had said " Let's use £100 a month from your inheritance until I finish my Masters so I can have my own space" the answer would probably have been "Sure".

All of the literature and freely availible online resources (e.g. Wrong Planet is awesome and the front page today is about bullying) clearly emphasise being utterly, utterly explicit in what you need from an Aspie partner.

you need to be careful if you choose to join online forums as many Aspie's have been so badly burned they can be hostile to NTs joining but there is a world of useful information out there to help.

Couples counselling with someone not specialist in the ASD spectrum is a total waste of your time if not money.

The first lesson everyone goes on about in choosing ANY partner is "Don't think you can change them" and that remain true regardless of ASD.

all the very best of luck
posted by Wilder at 1:37 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

He sounds like a child. Still has trouble "not flooding the counter"? Now he's blown a nice nest egg?

I'm not Aspie, but I am dyspraxic (and I have bipolar disorder if relevant). I struggle to do anything without making a mess. I don't own any black wallets or bags, because I will leave them in places. I keep kitchen roll on my desk at work because I knock over my water glass at least twice a week, and I often spill food on the table or on me. Without going into detail, this and being bad at school sports led to a lot of unhappiness for me as a child and still causes issues as an adult - I've been with my SO for some time now but if I can't work out how to do some things differently living together will be frustrating for both of us.

Now, I've also had issues with compulsive spending in the past. During a particularly depressive period, I somehow spent £4k on one particular type of item, none of which I still own. I know it is easy to let money disappear and excuse it. But if I were handed a large sum - enough to, say, get a deposit on a flat in some parts of the country, even then I think I would have taken steps to avoid frittering it away. (A relative of mine won £20k on a scratch card in 1991, which would be worth, what, £40k today? I have no idea what he spent it on. He doesn't own a house, a car, or any other things to 'show for it'.) I would tell my partner so I could get advice on what to do with it - which it sounds like he did here. I think if you know he has compulsive spending issues, you need to watch him like you'd watch a cat with stitches. Whether you're prepared to do that for the foreseeable future is another thing.
posted by mippy at 5:39 AM on April 30, 2012

OP, I have to disagree with those who are scolding you for (allegedly) not fully understanding your husband's Asperger's or not adjusting your communication style to match his needs. If you were his employer, you would be legally required to make reasonable accommodation for his condition, but you face no such requirement as a spouse. Some people are happy to be the caretaker or responsible person in a relationship, but you seem to want a spouse who will be as supportive to you as you are to him. That is an entirely legitimate desire, and it seems that your husband isn't fulfilling it. It really doesn't matter whether that's due to his disability/"difference", or simply to his personality, or indeed to yours.

If you can't live with what he has done, then you can't; it doesn't matter why he did it. If you don't want to make drastic changes to your natural communication style to suit him, then you are entirely within your rights not to do so. Guilt is a terrible, terrible reason to stay in an unhappy relationship, and political correctness an even worse one.

tl;dr: You're his wife, not his social worker. Act accordingly.
posted by Perodicticus potto at 8:29 AM on April 30, 2012 [9 favorites]

Another datapoint that might be useful to you in terms of weighing up his bullying/Asperger's with his responsibility towards you as a partner, TriparteGoddess:

I got tangled up with a compulsive liar once. And I mean a compulsive liar, not just someone who lied for his own benefit. He lied repeatedly and reflexively about all sorts of things, even when it would have been (from my perspective) easier to tell the truth. Compulsive lying often originates in childhood trauma, and this was certainly the case for him. He'd been through some awful stuff in his childhood, he had ongoing mental-health issues as a result, and even though the lying frustrated and upset me, I realised it was learnt behaviour and I tried to be sympathetic and understanding and supportive. I did this with other ways in which he was a bad partner for me, too, because I understood that his behaviours were coping mechanisms for bad situations and mental illness.

And I shouldn't have. I was right that his behaviour originated in childhood trauma; I was right to think that he needed support and sympathy to work through that trauma; but I was wrong, wrong, wrong to think that 'support and sympathy' meant me accepting behaviour that was hurtful to me and detrimental to our relationship. I am, to this day, ashamed that it took actual abuse for me to realise this. (Would he have become abusive if his childhood had been different? Probably not. Did that mean I should absolve him of responsibility for the abuse? Definitely not.) Adults in relationships are responsible for their own behaviour, and that includes taking responsibility for their own dysfunctional coping strategies, whether that responsibility is simply stopping or seeking professional help to find better methods of coping. We understand that an addict's behaviour is driven by their addiction, and that the addiction is often driven by past trauma. We still hold addicts responsible for their own behaviour. We do this for their sake, as well as for ours.

From the way you've phrased this, both you and your husband see this is a case of him genuinely and knowingly doing something wrong, and not just a mixup in communications where he didn't think you'd have a problem with it. So, where does that leave you? I wouldn't tell you what decision to make about your marriage, but I would caution you very strongly from my experience not to fall into the trap of thinking that a reason constitutes an excuse. His calculations for decision-making might be very different to yours, and there might be good reasons for that - but if you're willing to treat him like he's incapable of factoring you into those decisions, you're letting yourself in for pain and trouble.
posted by Catseye at 9:50 AM on April 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

That's almost £25 PER DAY that he spent which is a hell of a lot of money. Are you absolutely sure you have the full picture here?

I have to run a very tight ship. If I leave a few minutes late in the morning, I can't get into the cheap parking lot where I have a monthly pass because it's too full, and I have to pay £4.80 to get into the main parking lot. If the trains run just a little slow or I'm just a little bit delayed leaving my desk, I don't get home until 9:30pm and then I have to decide which of my chores, including packing my lunch, to drop in order to get to bed by 11 for a 6am start. A cafeteria lunch runs around £7, and if I don't have time to eat before I leave the house that's another £3 or £4 for breakfast, never mind random coffee.

See? I've just spent £15 or so and I haven't done anything. I try to wait to eat until after I get home, get ready for bed, and get things together for work the next day and have done my chores - but sometimes I weaken and spend money on food, because it's hard to be out and about for 16 hours a day and not eat anything that I haven't brought from home.

So where did that other £10 go? I can point to some magazines and books that I bought along the way - pretty foolish of me.

What's my point? My point is that £25 per day can run through your fingers very very easily, just by imitating the people around you (who all buy their lunch) and by sometimes taking the easier option. My mother insists that surely it's reasonable to buy a cafeteria lunch, that employers ought to provide cafeterias for their staff, how can a person be expected to spend time packing a lunch. And then she also wonders why I never have any money. But the reasons why are because of daily small failures of discipline, not because I have a gambling problem. And there certainly wouldn't need to be any deception involved. Just a lack of explicit planning. I don't want to paint the wrong picture here, because I really am extremely bad with money, but at the same time it seems to require so much focus and intent to do so very little.

I see other people around me eating cafeteria lunches and buying coffee every single day, and presumably not all of them have completely cut out things like "gifts, books, magazines, meals out, collectibles, charity donations, petrol" - I am not suggesting this level of spending is good, but calling the husband an "overgrown child" or saying that he must have a gambling problem or is inevitably going to be having affairs and that he may be too much of a mental case to sustain a marriage - that seems a highly emotive, judgmental and loaded way to look at it.

Especially when it is not clear whether the OP actually said "okay, I will give up my Master's and although I am miserable about it, I am making this sacrifice so we can live in a flat small enough to enable you to continue doing that job without our having to dip into your savings." It is not even clear that they explicitly agreed that the savings would be for "a house, or retirement, or for starting a business" - only that the OP "supposed" that it would be, while the husband may have been "supposing" that it was appropriate to use his own savings for petty cash.

Without more information, I can't conclude that this lack of communication is not a two-way process, or support anyone who's saying that the OP's husband is the only one at fault here or that the OP would be right to divorce him because he's too disabled to sustain a marriage. And I notice that HE has agreed to go to counselling for HIS problems - I wonder if this really is solely his problem or whether he assumes, because of his disability, that the OP is automatically more right than he is. I see a lot of splitting it black and white, which, outside of abuse scenarios, is not usually that close to reality.
posted by tel3path at 10:02 AM on April 30, 2012 [8 favorites]

Perodicticus potto I favorited your comment as (obviously) I think it's a very valid one. One therapist I spoke to pointed out that the only successful Aspie/NT relationships she had seen in 30 years of practice were when the male Aspie was married to a female of a different nationality.

There's something about (initially I would argue) putting up the the communicative difficulties you see with intercultural relationships that allow you to fall in love with an Aspie. Once you fall, it's as if the one you love has any other health issue happen to them, the "for better or worse" part kicks in.

at no stage should you stay in a relationship because you feel you are a carer, a martyr, politically correct. You stay in a relationship because you feel valued and cherished. You stay in a relationship where for the most part BOTH PARTIES needs are being fulfilled

(I also want to point out that you have to really sift the online sources to get to ones that might resonate with you poster, there's a large amount of anger from Aspie about NTs expectations of them that can be difficult)
posted by Wilder at 10:04 AM on April 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I should echo the warning not to waste money on counselling with someone who's not an expert in Asperger issues.

I know someone who estimated that he'd wasted £80,000 pounds on therapy that proved ineffective because of the therapist's lack of expertise, so it's not a minor consideration.
posted by tel3path at 10:19 AM on April 30, 2012

My last comment was deleted for relating to what specific commenters said, so I'll broaden my scope to make it relate back to the question better. Does it really matter whether he hurt you deliberately, or whether it was because his Asbergers made him incapable of empathy towards how you feel? That's fundamentally a "sociopaths need love too" kind of argument, and it's logically absurd. Is he on the sociopathic end of the spectrum? If so, then run away. If not, then he owes it to you to manage his own condition better - you're only responsible for being a good wife, not for making sure he's a good husband.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 11:02 AM on April 30, 2012

Look... plenty of non-Aspies here, so there must be plenty of empathy, too, right? Try looking at it this way:

Just yesterday there was a thread about "how do organized people do it" - that means a lot of people here are not organized, and I'm sure it's caused problems, large or small, to some of us; no-one here is "all that".

When you frame it as him spending £27000 of course it's shocking, but when you subtract the cost of the car and driving lessons (mine cost me £7000 in all) and spread it over several years, it becomes more like £25 a day or whatever. As I tried to show, it's depressingly easy to spend £25 a day, just by not being organized. This sounds more like something that could happen to anyone, than the picture of embezzlement, deception, and pathology that a number of people are trying to paint here.

Factor in stuff like needing to conform - it's hard for the most normal amongst us to decline to buy a round for a colleague's birthday drinks or chip in for a charity collection. If my colleagues go to lunch, I'm the only one with a bag lunch. That is the kind of difference that gets you picked on as a child, and even sometimes as an adult - I've met with some real disapproval of my perceived stinginess when yet another envelope came around for the birthday of a colleague I'd never met.

Meanwhile, from what has been spelled out here, it looks like the OP was harboring an assumption about how the savings were to be used but may not have communicated that. This could be galumphing insensitivity on the husband's part to have used the money in this way, but maybe her expectations just weren't clear to him. Everyone is jumping on him for lack of empathy, which it could be, but it also could be something that could happen to anyone. Do assumptions and suppositions always work and never cause conflict in most marriages? Even to your average NASCAR dad or whoever?

It seems to the OP that she's been suffering to support every aspect of the husband's pervasive, unyielding pathology for years, AND NOW THIS. And he's so uncoordinated that he can't even make a cup of tea without spilling it! She's the competent one, she's the carer who sacrifices to look after him, and now his pathology has gotten too big for the marriage to handle. I have no doubt that the OP sees it that way, and I'm extremely sympathetic to how overwhelmed and furious she must feel (Aspie relatives, so believe me, I know, from both directions).

But what if the husband had written this? It would be that: she knew you had a disability when she married you, and now she is using that to put you in the wrong, all the time? She had secret rules for how *your* money was to be spent and now she's threatening to leave you unless you go to therapy - ALONE - to get *your* pathology cured? DTMFA!!!! And that response would be about as balanced as a lot of the responses here, frankly.

I find it pretty troubling that the husband has been so contrite and has agreed to go to therapy on his own, as if he's the only one with the problem because he's the Aspie. I don't buy that these problems are SO exotic that they could ONLY come from HIS pathology and couldn't spring from the kind of mistakes that anybody might make.

I'm not saying the husband acted responsibly here, but then, it's also somewhat irresponsible to marry someone, knowing their diagnosis, and then less than five years later consider divorcing them because they, and only they, are the cause of all your problems and are damaged goods. Meanwhile, knowing what his diagnosis was, and therefore knowing that communication has to be explicit and not based on assumptions, the OP nevertheless did make assumptions and also (apparently) held back from communicating her wishes for several years during which she could have asked for £100 a month from him (whether from the inheritance or through asking him to get a better-paid job) for the sake of her sanity, but didn't. This is not a reason to condemn the OP, but it's also not more responsible than nickel-and-diming away your inheritance over several years.

It's true that she's not responsible for being her husband's carer or social worker, but where does it end? If they have children and their child has problems, will we say "you're not a social worker, kick that kid out of your house"? This guy is her husband, isn't that supposed to mean DTMFA is a last resort to be contemplated only after such measures as, say, couples' therapy to solve the problem together as equal partners, not solely by him going to therapy alone to fix him because he's unworthy of her?
posted by tel3path at 2:34 PM on April 30, 2012 [5 favorites]

If it was me, I would divorce him. I always go through my accounts once a month when I pay my bills, double check everything is as it should be, check all my accounts (including savings), go through my list of credit purchases to make sure they match my receipts, get all my ducks in a row. For someone to have frittered away that amount of money, they would have to have been actively deceiving me and hiding their trail. It would have been some effort on their part to manage that for three years.

Are your finances completely separate? How did you spend three years and at no point notice his savings have been disappearing? It's not clear from your questions if this was a massive web of lies, or if you both never talked about money and you could have found out about this easily. One of those is workable, the other much less so.

People aren't born knowing how to manage money, and the majority of parents don't teach it, schools barely touch on it. I recommend taking some courses, reading books, find out how to manage your money. That amount of cash shouldn't have been sitting in a savings account, there are a lot of options for low risk investments and myriad ways of making it work for you.

And if it's possible to get back into graduate school, do it. There is absolutely no reason why you would ever want to exchange his short term feelings of loneliness with your long-term feelings of resentment. Especially when it's your career that is supporting the both of you!!
posted by Dynex at 5:14 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

But what if the husband had written this? It would be that: she knew you had a disability when she married you, and now she is using that to put you in the wrong, all the time? She had secret rules for how *your* money was to be spent and now she's threatening to leave you unless you go to therapy - ALONE - to get *your* pathology cured? DTMFA!!!! And that response would be about as balanced as a lot of the responses here, frankly.

But it seems like if the answers to both "sides" would be DTMFA, DTMFA is pretty solid advice.

I mean, yeah, ideally they'd go to couples' counselling. But I feel like if the OP was willing to go to couple's counselling, she'd've said so. Right now, she seems kinda done and angry and resentful... and that's a legit, real feeling that's as real and worthy of consideration as her partner's AS.
posted by spunweb at 6:51 PM on April 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

The AS is a fact, not a feeling. The resentment is a feeling, which is a priori legitimate, but the facts don't support the interpretation that the OP is the source of all benefits in the marriage and her husband is the source of all costs. Maybe the OP's contempt has just simply passed the point of no return, but we don't know that yet.

It is true that the OP is not her husband's employer and she does not have the legal obligations to accommodate him that an employer would have. I would argue that it's immoral to encourage the OP to use her husband's AS as an excuse to hold him in contempt and a reason why he's not worthy of a serious effort to honour their marriage vows (by a serious effort, I mean counseling for them as a couple, not just him).

I also don't think it makes pragmatic sense to suggest that the OP's problems will go away when her husband does. Miscommunications and financial screwups happen even with nice, normal men, who are not necessarily going to handle them by taking all the blame and volunteering to go to therapy to make themselves worthy of the OP. The green grassy fields ain't exactly abounding with guys like that, in my experience, not that I'm suggesting they should be, but I wouldn't want her to hop over to the other side of the fence (a side she hasn't been on since she was 19), and get a surprise.

If this is actually a matter of systematic deception rather than miscommunication then I eat my words fully. But if I hadn't said 'em, I wouldn't be able to eat 'em.
posted by tel3path at 8:06 AM on May 1, 2012

Oh please, just one more. I'm not sleepy.

What I think has happened is that the OP and her husband have fallen into a pattern where the husband is in a childlike or 'client' role and the wife is playing the parent or 'senior' position. I think this probably happened very unwittingly.

Taking a lead, and remembering I'm fscking forty-two and don't need to be infantilized, is something I constantly have to deal with. Some people have described me as 'submissive', which is telling, but it seems to be a hazard even with people who aren't obviously seeking to dominate others, even when I think I'm just trying to be appropriately humble and/or empathic. When I thought of myself as inherently defective and unworthy of human society, it was worse. And it also inevitably sped the process of people getting sick of me and coming to despise me.

Unfortunately the OP seems to have this view of her husband, her husband seems to agree with it, and now MeFi is affirming this view and insinuating that considering any different view amounts to "accommodating" him. She's not left with two choices: accommodate him or leave. I think they might both, through no fault of either of them, gone down a path to unequal partnership when there are other ways they could have gone and maybe could still go. But it is essential that they both get another vantage point on their situation.
posted by tel3path at 8:54 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ah! I see more what you are saying. Thank you for clarifying -- I think you're right, and agree that if the OP still loves her partner and wants to stay married, they should both go to couples counseling.

What I'm still stuck on is the "wants to stay married" part. In my experience, if someone is posting to strangers on the internet about getting divorced, and hasn't mentioned love or couple's counseling, they've already made up their mind and just don't know it yet.
posted by spunweb at 11:33 AM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

For someone to have frittered away that amount of money, they would have to have been actively deceiving me and hiding their trail. It would have been some effort on their part to manage that for three years.

I agree with the poster above who says it's very easy to spend £25 a day without noticing. If I go out at lunchtime, buy a pre-made sandwich, a lipstick or some shampoo, or a magazine, maybe a coffee or a travelcard to get home, that's easily £25. I can do all that, without any deception involved or hiding things away, within an hour or two of pottering around and not thinking about what I'm doing. If you aren't someone who remembers that Things Add Up, that's how easily it can be done. It's not ideal, and it isn't very grown-up behaviour, but it can be done easily without malice or deception. It's an astonishing achievement for that to happen to £25k, but if you aren't wired to see the bigger picture, then money is just something you exchange for a bunch of stuff.
posted by mippy at 8:54 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm coming late to this, but I think I can offer another perspective.

I have this friend who's been married for about 15 years, has two kids, and a happy marriage.
He does not have Aspergers, but he has a kind of happy-go-lucky attitude toward life which doesn't include the ability to think strategically about long term planning (even though he's an engineer!). He knows this about himself, so he and his wife decided when they first got married that she would handle all the finances. If he has spending money on any particular day it is because she has given it to him.

He and she are very happy with this arrangement. If they hadn't made this agreement and had a situation like yours, the result would have been exactly the same and she would be just as angry (or angrier!) than you are.

So ask yourself, if you had made this arrangement at the start of your wedding and had taken control of the expenses, including his inheritance, would you be angry with him now?

If not, and if he, like my friend, would be completely happy with the financial arrangement, then there's the possibility, after your anger has dissipated, to reboot the marriage and start afresh. To really restart your marriage you've got to completely forgive and forget.

Once a marriage has gone to the "I'm so ANGRY with him/her!" stage, can be really, really hard to take a dispassionate look past the anger and toward a solution that leaves recriminations behind. But the benefits can be amazing.
posted by eye of newt at 8:30 PM on May 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

I believe that the person experiencing a problem is the person responsible for solving that problem. For example, your husband has a problem with his mental health as a result of childhood trauma. He is currently seeking therapy. This shows intelligence and a capacity for self awareness that not all of us possess. This is good. Your problem is that you can't decide if you should leave your husband because while you've "suffered" living in a small flat, he chose to slowly spend his savings on "insignificant" things. While he identifies his problem as being something he has an ability to try to solve, you've identified your problem as something you have no control of, his actions. I think your real problem is your choice to be unhappy then blame it on your husband. If we give someone else the responsibility of making us happy we've put ourselves at their mercy. And if we allow others to put the responsibility of their happiness on us, we can't complain when we've done stupid things like given up a masters degree for "their happiness". Anyway you look at it, there were choices you've made that got you where you are and the only thing to do to make it any different is to make some different choices. I would argue that your first one would be to take responsibility for your own happiness. Next let him know you're no longer going to give up things that are important for you to make him happy. Next put love into action. Love is a verb not something that just happens. The hormones that get released when we are loving and allow ourselves to be loved is our reward.
posted by canalien at 3:38 AM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

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