My husband and I have been married for twelve years…. I discovered, after marrying him, that he had a lot of debt. I helped him pay off the debt at the beginning of our marriage. I took charge and became responsible for the financial management of the household until four years ago, when he told me that he should be in charge of our finances.

I just found out that he has run up credit card debt on two cards, and not just that but also that he owes taxes…. I am desperate! I feel betrayed…. I believe in God… and I trust in Him, but I no longer trust my husband…. What can I do? Should I work to help him, or should I let him work it all out by himself?

Dear Friend,

You ask if you should work to help him. Unfortunately, he is not the only one with these debts. As his spouse, his debt is your debt, except in a few unusual situations. So a better question would be whether you should work to pay off your own debt!

You discovered too late that your husband had debt that he brought to the marriage. You should have known about that before deciding to marry him, as management of funds is one of the primary causes of marital conflict. But you didn’t know, so you decided to work to pay off his debt.

Now the situation is different. The current debt was incurred after the marriage, so you are both equally responsible. It is no longer just his problem, and you must do whatever it takes to get this debt cleared up. If that means working, then work.

However, resolving the current situation doesn’t resolve the future. If your husband is not willing to let you be in charge of the future finances of your household, then you certainly will continue to mistrust him, and that will be devastating for your marriage. We suggest that you have him sign a document that you prepare, stating that you will work to pay back the debt on the condition that he agrees that you will be in charge of the family finances permanently. But remember that being in charge does not mean that you should control the money or make unilateral decisions. You should make the decisions about expenditures together, with the understanding that you will pay the bills for those expenditures and you will make sure that the available funds are sufficient.

You are right that we can and should trust God. He most certainly helps us when we live by His principles and put Him first in our lives. So we recommend that you pray together and ask God to help you to get past this difficulty and to strengthen your marriage. As your husband prays, he may feel that God wants him to apologize to you for having misled you. That would be a great first step in healing the hurt that you feel.

We wish you the best,