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Car Nut

Question:

Got married last month to my boyfriend of 3 years. My 2nd marriage, his 3rd. Just found out that he bought a $30,000 car and kept it hidden from me since the day after we got married. When I discovered what he was up to, he didn’t know what to say except that he just HAD TO HAVE this car and knew I would not approve so he decided to keep it from me as long as possible. He says he loves me and he is sorry. I gave him an ultimatum. Told him I can forgive him for his deception and work things out if he gets rid of the car. He said no way. “Don’t give me ultimatums – you will always lose.” He says the car is none of my business, he pays for it with HIS money and I have nothing to do with it. “Either forgive me and get over it or I’m leaving.” I feel that another $ 600 or so expense per month IS my business and cannot understand him at all. I thought I was being generous for offering forgiveness for what I feel is a huge betrayal, but I just need some reassurance that I’m more important to him than a car. He says I’m being stupid willing to throw everything away over “one mistake” – I say I’m not the one throwing anything away, he is. If he’d “fix” his mistake I’ll still be here. Any thoughts?

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  • ‘Anne’ is the pseudonym for the individual who writes this relationship advice column.
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Answer:

Your husband is just wrong when he says that he will pay for the car “with his own money”. A marriage is about the merging of resources between two people who love each other. Your husband may earn his salary on his own – but the money he receives is owned by the marriage. Both parties to the marriage have some say as to how it is spent. That your husband hid his purchase from you until after the marriage suggests that he has withheld a significant portion of himself (and his money) from the marriage and has no intention of actually partnering with you on decisions that affect his happiness or freedom. He seems to have no problems, however, with selfishly strapping you with his debt load. He seems more of a child than a man. You seem to have (understandably) reacted to the whole thing with anger. Your interactions with him have been colored by your anger (e.g., your ultimatum, your demand that he sell the car, etc.). While I believe that you are on the right track with standing up for yourself, I don’t think that the angry confrontational approach will get you results. Rather, I think that your assertive suggestion that he is approaching the entire marriage in the wrong way might get better results. Tell him that you love him but that you and he seem to understand what marriage is all about in very different ways that are incompatible. Tell him that the two of you ought to go for marital therapy so as to get on the same track. I can assure you, the car is not the problem; his attitude that brought him to purchase the car without telling you is the problem. The car will NOT be the last problem you will have if your husband’s attitude towards the marriage doesn’t change. Good Luck, – Anne

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