My husband and I have been married 6 years, together 10.5 years. We have 2 young children. We used to fight a lot every month when the bills would come in, so my husband took over paying all the bills. Then he started getting some credit card bills and bank statements sent to his office.
I have recently found out that my husband has been making large purchases and lying about them. He has bought 3 laptops in the past 2 years. Each time he would tell me they were loaners from his office. He has spent thousands of dollars buying equipment, computer accessories, and PDAs. He came clean after I found out the balance on one of our credit card bills.
He says that he was depressed and that he would go into a cycle of buying, and then sell off what he bought. This way, he wouldn't have to lie to me anymore and we could start fresh. He says that he doesn't know why he did all of this and that he needs help. What kind of therapist/doctor does he need? What can we do to put trust and honesty back in our marriage? Thank you.
I am sorry to hear about the situation that you have been experiencing with your husband. His excessive spending would be distressing enough, but what really harms a marriage is the lack of trust that results because of the lies that always occur when an addiction is present.
He is what is termed a shopaholic. People can get psychologically addicted to any substance, food, or activity. It does not have to be a drug like alcohol or heroin. When an addiction is present, the body changes in a number of ways such that it becomes stimulating and self-rewarding. Adrenalin, neurotransmitters, and endorphins, which are the body's natural morphine increase dramatically. The activity or substance that the person is using becomes associated with these chemicals. Therefore the addictive process is to the internal chemicals as well as the external activity.
There is always an emotional component to addictions as well. Often, people who have difficulty showing their emotions are more prone to addictions. When a person comes from an emotionally, physically, sexually, or spiritually abusive childhood they often turn to addictions with greater frequency.
Addictions are also more prevalent for people who have an underlying chemical problem that causes impulsivity, such as Attention Deficit Disorder or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. If this is the case then medication becomes part of the solution. Because of this component I would seek out a psychiatrist who is an expert in these conditions. However, this shopaholism condition needs more than this. It would be best for your husband to be seen by a counselor who is an addiction specialist. The counselor will then probably suggest that a 12-step program for shopaholics be included in the treatment.
Whenever a person is married to an addict, they experience a world of pain. They often are confused by the condition and feel betrayed, unloved, and lied to. This is normal and natural, although very upsetting. I would suggest that you also seek treatment with a therapist who specializes in addiction and codependency. Codependency is excessive concern with another person. This is unavoidable when involved with an addict.
After the situation is stabilized with individual treatment you both would benefit by marriage therapy. If both of you are willing there is no reason why the marriage can't change and thrive.
Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT
This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.
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