My wife is stealing from me.
Dear Pastor Kristine:
I've not been able to stop thinking of what you said at the wedding in Hudson last month. Your comments about clarity, truth and the importance of transparency hit hard.
My wife has been stealing money from me. I learned this the hard way. My checking account went into deficit about a week ago, and when I tried to balance everything, nothing made sense.
After working the numbers for hours on end, I finally asked my wife if she knew what might have happened to the money. She lied to me.
So, I went back to the books again.
I discovered a series of checks that I never wrote.
When I asked her if she knew anything about the checks, she confessed.
Kristine, she used the money to buy things I earlier told her we didn't need.
New dishes, sheets for the children's beds. Without my permission she even bought electric blankets. She's been complaining for years that the kids are too cold in the winter. I keep the thermostat at 50 degrees at night.
Kristine, I am furious about this. When I learned that she lied to me, I tried to get my hands on her, but she ran too fast. She actually locked herself in the bathroom to keep clear of me.
Now that I look back on it, it is probably a good thing. If I caught her, I don't know what I would have done.
I don't know what to do about this. The total damage is a little over $1100; money I thought I had for a fishing vacation I planned for this summer.
Now, no one goes anywhere.
To make matters worse, she is insisting I go into counseling over all this. Me. As if I'm the crazy one.
Can you help?
Sign me -
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
YOU'RE confused? What about me?
Your letter blew me out of the room!
I have half a mind to ask for your identity so I could come to your house and slap some sense into you.
I mean, help me here, Curious. You're angry because your wife shopped for dishes and linens? So angry, you chase her through the house, trying to physically punish her? Really?
Your wife spent the family money and you call that stealing. Mr. Curious, your lovely bride didn't rob from the grocery money to buy herself a full-tilt-boogie mink. She didn't spend the money on booze or cheap men. She bought her family dishes, her children warm blankets. Isn't that correct?
So let's establish some common understanding, Curious. Most men don't punish their women for buying household goods. Where I live, no woman who spends what her husband earns is called a thief.
A woman who spends the family money does what women do - shops and provides for those who depend upon her.
So, no - - last time I checked there's nothing wrong with a wife buying necessities for her family. And hey, Curious - it is okay for her to do so using the family money.
Nothing wrong with that. Something terribly wrong in your house, however. Your wife chose to not tell you about her spending. That's wrong.
So, Mr. Confused, here's the heart of your family problem. Why didn't your wife feel she could tell you she bought the dishes and the blankets?
Did you ask her why she didn't feel comfortable telling you? Or did you not ask her because you know why she didn't tell you?
Isn't it true she didn't tell you because you terrify her? Because she knows you. She knows that once you heard she bought blankets and dishes, you would "chase her" through the house, trying to get your hands on her.
Your wife is afraid of you. You frighten her.
Curious - your problem is not a wife who "steals." Your problem is a marriage where one person terrorizes the other.
Does it bother you that your first response to the crisis in your family was anger over losing your fishing vacation and then rage at the woman you are supposed to love and cherish?
And what's with your need to keep the thermostat at 50 degrees in your home, Confused? You're raising vulnerable children, no? In a home with a temperature so low, grown men and women would develop pneumonia?
What's wrong with you?
The mystery in all of this is indeed, your wife. Why does she stay with you? Why does she put up with your nonsense?
Not only is she tolerating your neanderthal, arrogant and pig-headed approach to family, she recommended you to counseling. The woman is a saint, Confused.
And let me be sure I got this right - - you and your spouse attended the Hudson wedding, and while you heard me speak about honesty in marriage, your thoughts turned to what? To your violence in the home? To your power-trippy freak-out over the household budget? No. Instead of listening to the sermon and considering your own behavior, you wrote me to report your wife as a thief.
Honey - here's my advice. Get yourself to that counselor yesterday. Tell him you want to talk about how you're handling the things you love.
When you get to his office, be honest with him about the things your value most. Open your wallet - show him your money. Put it on the table where you can keep your eye on it.
Talk to him about how you love your money. Tell him how you count it every night, watch that no one else in your house has access to it. Tell him how you control your cash, keep it close to you, trust no one to handle it as well as you handle it.
Tell him too, about how you have tried (without success) to control your wife by not giving her any of your money. Tell him that when she spends your money, you call it stealing.
Tell him everything - tell him how you created a home environment where your children are cold at night; so cold your wife has to sneak to buy them electric blankets. Tell him you ran through the house chasing her when you leaned that she purchased blankets to keep your babies warm at night.
Tell him about the fear you instill in your wife and the love affair you have with your bank balance.
Start there and work your way up.
Mr. Confused, don't look to your wife to blame for the mess of your sad, unfortunate family. Shake out your pockets. Look at your cash. And then, look in the mirror.
Shame on you.
Presbyterian pastor, broadcast commentator, playwright and great friend.