Are You Hiding Debt From Your Spouse? Yikes! Suze Orman On The Oprah Show

Did you happen to see Oprah today? (I rarely watch her show – but my wife was watching and she called today’s show to my attention.) Oprah interviewed a woman who had hidden – wait for it – more than $50,000 in debt from her husband. (I was going to write an article about the show, but Dedicated to Financial Freedom has already done a nice job of recapping.) If you want to see clips of the show, click here to visit Oprah’s site. (By the way, I’m not a big fan of Suze Orman, and I think she was a little harsh on the husband – but she does a very good job of setting this couple straight.)

After watching the show, I was left with huge questions –

Do you hide money / purchases / debt from your spouse?

How could she spend thousands of dollars a MONTH and her husband never notice?

Is there really THAT much pressure to “keep up with the Joneses”?

Is the fact that my wife and I sit down and discuss our finances THAT rare of a thing?

Do we have an entire generation of couples / individuals / students who are addicted to credit and debt?

I know that folks struggle with debt, but I figured (naively, I’m sure) that most couples were struggling together – for richer, for poorer and all that jazz. Wow.

16 thoughts on “Are You Hiding Debt From Your Spouse? Yikes! Suze Orman On The Oprah Show

  1. I saw part of the show today. Unbelievable.

    I struggle with the same questions you do. My husband and I have joint accounts, and I can’t imagine ever hiding anything from him or he from me.

    I feel bad for people who seem to try to get their self worth from their image and how they look to other people. I can’t imagine trying to live up to that.

    I may not have a lot of money, but I’m secure in who I am and in my relationship with my husband. That’s enough for me.

  2. That must be very hard for both of them. I hope they can work it out together with marital and financial counselors. I don’t hide purchases, though we don’t discuss every little thing…we just collect receipts and talk about our general spending habits.

  3. I hope that they do check up on the two families. Phil seems stuck on staying in California. I hope they do improve their financial situation for the children. Hep them by getting health insurance, showing what self worth is, and teaching them financial skills.

  4. She’s not keeping up with the Joneses. She *is* Mrs. Jones and everyone else in her neighborhood is agape at her. They all know what she spends for Pete’s sake because she sells the clothes every 2 months for a buck. Good freakin’ grief.

    I didn’t see the episode since I don’t have a TV, so I’m not sure where this family lives in CA, but I don’t think moving to Seattle is that great of an idea since housing can be just as expensive as Silicon Valley. Just because you can give yourself a raise by paying less income tax doesn’t quite make sense. WA has a high sales tax, higher than parts of CA. (It varies county to county in CA.)

    I do think that Felice needs to go back to work. She will spend less because she won’t be so bored all day and fill her time with shopping.

    Ugh. I’m glad Suze laid it into the husband too. He’s an idiot for not saying something sooner to curb his wife’s spending. Moronic. Completely moronic.

  5. Some people don’t know how much stuff costs. If you have a spending problem, you are liable to hide it much as you would if you had a problem with gambling or alcohol. These are not things that people want to admit to.

  6. If everyone is like the people on Oprah, we’re all addicted to drugs/cheating/being molested. It’s drama–the extreme cases.

  7. Well, I was that husband once, and I agree that Suze was way too harsh on him. Now, my wife at the time was not racking up debt in at quite that level, but things were getting missed that caused (as is still causing) lots of financial disruption. My main argument against Suze was that there has to be a level of trust for a marriage to work. If my wife was in charge of paying the car insurance bill or the mortgage (which she was), and I asked her if they had been paid (which she affirmed), and then I said, “Let me see the receipts”, well, anyone can surely understand where the conversation is going to head after that.

    True, there were plenty of things that did not add up – the shopping, the exorbitant spending on children’s parties – things the oprah hubby should have seen – but the minute the questions start coming, the defenses go up, and many men choose not to fight for the sake of the little eyes and ears in the room.

    I am sorry, but that marriage I am afraid is doomed without a radical shift on the mom’s part. She seemed almost giddy at the idea of moving to Seattle, but she had nothing to lose and everything to gain. She didn’t seem to care about the prospects of uprooting six school-aged children and a husband whose family lived in the area. She was looking for another bail-out, and moving in her eyes would help her find that momentary peace.

  8. Funny how “adults” can be so childish.

    I did not see this episode.

    I am not yet married, but my parents went through something like this. Not excessive spending, but a business doinng poor and other issues.

  9. One of my coworkers hides debt from her husband…it just seems like a disaster waiting to happen.

    She has credit cards he doesn’t know about, and has the bills sent to the office–because she pays them late, they are at 32% interest…

    He on the otherhand types out a list of what she is “allowed” to spend each week, and puts it into her wallet.

    They are on totally different pages—have been married for 16 years too—

    It’s like they are both walking around with blinders on.

  10. Hmm…there might be a very good reason why he makes a list of what they are “allowed” to spend. Maybe it’s a part of her spendaholic treatment that she’s clearly skirting around!

    You really have to be honest with your spouse regardless of the consequences. If you’re lying to your spouse your marriage is in trouble.

  11. @ Chris:
    I don’t think you can make someone stop spending by micromanaging their finances. I think its more likely to cause the sort of behaviour that MSMomsmoney describes.

    You’re right that if you are lying to your spouse, then there is almost certainly a general problem.

  12. That’s funny – I’m that husband! For the third time in our seven year marriage, my wife has racked up multi-thousand dollar credit card debt behind my back. This third and most recent time amounted to 53K, the rate on some of these cards is 31% and combined minimum payments are more than my mortgage. It is the single most dehumanizing experience to a)find out that your spouse has lied to you repeatedly about a spending issue you thought was behind you and b)your back in the hole again for the forseeable future. Oh yeah, and let me add c)my credit rating is in the tank too. She took out two cards in both of our names that I was not aware of. Here I go again, into the debts of Hell.

  13. Hi-

    HIDING DEBT from your spouse is in the SAME category as CHEATING! It is a deception, a breach of trust on the same scale. No, your spouse does not run the risk of bringing home cooties, or getting some bimbo knocked-up as in the case of an adulterous affair. However, your spouse will most likely bring home hardship, disgrace, instability, struggle, distrust, great expense, and the ringing of bill collectors all day and all night. Oh yeah, and don’t forget all of the missed opportunities that go by while your working two jobs to pay back credit card companies at 29% interest. Worth it? C’mon people, has the collective character of our great country stooped so low in recent times? Are unnecessary goods, services, and keeping up with the Jones of more importance than the psychological, financial, and emotional stability within your very home?

    I am what you would call a saver. This is the fashionable distinction to make these days; either you’re a SPENDER or a SAVER…whatever. Let me just say that I think this distinction is a load of crap. Either you are a responsible adult accountable for your actions, or you are behaving like an out of control child. The laws of money are based on simple mathematics that you learned in grade school. Apply them and you will reap success, forgo them and you will suffer more or less like those other fools out there right now getting foreclosed on. The banks and credit card companies don’t care how emotionally needy you were while you drank your $6 latte’s, bought a hummer, or just had to impress the neighbors with this, that, and the other thing. Unless you file for bankruptcy, you are basically on the hook, a slave to the lender. And another thing, the banks and lenders are smarter than you, they hire finance MBAs and PhDs who will work 80hrs per week figuring out how to get you in debt and keep you there.

    How do I know this – EXPERIENCE. I was married to just such a person; she duped me three times in our 8yr marriage. Each time with a promise to change and that it would never happen again. I bailed us out of it each time, and when enough time went by and I let my guard down, she did it again. This third and final time I am forced to file bankruptcy, attempt to sell my house in a down market (all offers have been less than I paid for the home), my credit is ruined because she put my name on some of the cards which she never intended to pay, and to forfeit all of the sweat equity that I put into this home over the past four years of back breaking renovations that were done on nights and weekends after my 60 hour work week.

  14. What about discovering debt, $200,000.000 worth to be exact, after marrying into it?
    I’m trying to keep on the happy face but really struggling!

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