There are unique challenges within DA when it comes to dealing with money and relationships, be it with a partner or children. It’s been proven that money squabbles can actually lead to divorce. A 2009 study showed that couples who reported disagreeing about finance once a week were over 30 percent more likely to get divorced than couples who reported disagreeing about finances a few times a month.
Among the issues that can affect any couple, whether in or out of Debtors Anonymous are:
- One partner spends excessively
- One partner lives in deprivation due to fear and won’t let the couple spend
- Disagreements on where to spend money, such as on a bigger house, what type of car, etc.
- Savings vs. spending
However, there are multiple layers to the difficulties within a recovery program that don’t affect couples otherwise. There are two scenarios:
- Both partners are compulsive spenders/debtors and only one gets into recovery.
- Only one partner is a compulsive spender/debtor and gets into recovery.
(A third scenario, where both partners are in recovery, will still have hurdles, but they will be different as they are on the same path.)
In both cases, a common phenomenon is that the partner not in recovery feels threatened by the recovery efforts of the other. Change, even for the better, can feel scary, an upsetting of the status quo, no matter how dysfunctional. Even with a “normal” spending partner, there may be efforts to thwart or sabotage the recovery efforts, which may not be conscious.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) actually devotes two chapters to this subject: To Wives and The Family Afterward. We, in Debtors Anonymous, use AA literature because we understand that our addiction has the same solution as that of alcoholics. (Even though the one chapter is entitled To Wives, don’t let that deter you if your partner is a husband. It’s the concepts that are important.)
As an example, I, myself have had issues with my spouse, who is very frugal and actually writes down his spending daily, rounding up to the nearest dollar, as a matter of habit. He has gotten extremely frustrated with me because, in recovery, I need to account for spending to the penny. Because he doesn’t, this has caused a furor in the house when I have needed to do so. Such a small thing, right? But was it really about the pennies?
For me, it is important that I stick to what works for me, no matter what, but to remember that there is pain in change, not just for me, but for those whom it affects. This is where patience is important and remembering that this person also put up with me when I was in full-fledged disease mode.
In the next post, I will give some tips on how to work your DA spending plan when you have a partner and/or children and how to handle some difficult situations.