Discussions of money turn into arguments

On Money

November 26, 1995|By Susan Bondy | Susan Bondy,Creators Syndicate

Two years ago, I married a wonderful man. This is the second marriage for both of us, and I really want this marriage to work.

But my husband is financially irresponsible. I think he has some past bills haunting him and may even owe back taxes.

I've worked very hard to build up a good credit history, and I would like to help my husband solve his problems. However, every time I bring up this subject, it ends in an argument. I am worried that our credit history will be damaged or, worse yet, that someone will knock on my door and take him away.

Is there any way I can get a copy of my husband's credit reports or tax files without his knowing about it? Can you please help me figure out what to do?

I can suggest ways for you to try to get the information you're after, but in my opinion, that might make matters worse between the two of you.

I urge you to find an objective intermediary such as a marriage counselor, therapist or clergyman to help you and your husband overcome the fears that keep you from discussing these important matters more comfortably and his fears of facing his own demons.

Now back to the facts: You cannot get a copy of your husband's credit history without his agreement. And getting him to sign a consent form may create a whole new set of problems.

You should, however, request a copy of your own credit history to make sure all your joint obligations have been paid on time.

As for taxes, I assume you have filed at least one and maybe two joint returns. And since you had to have signed the tax returns, I'm sure you looked at the bottom line -- whether you owed taxes or had a refund coming to you. If you had a refund coming and received only part (or none) of it, there's a high probability that your husband owes past-due taxes to which the refund was applied.

If you have not filed a tax return in the past two years, you and your husband are facing serious consequences. Although we no longer have debtors' prisons, failing to file or pay income taxes is a federal crime.

There are various ways of investigating whether there are liens or judgments against your husband or his property, but digging them up may make your husband feel you're snooping behind his back. Before you resort to devious means, I'd recommend dealing with these issues head-on.

So, tell your husband how much you love him and that you want the marriage to succeed. Let him know you'll help him get out of trouble without judging him. Ask if you can try to solve your problems as a team. If that doesn't work, suggest a third party. If he refuses, go yourself.

Susan Bondy founded her namesake financial services company 1980 to provide financial planning and asset management. She is the author of "How to Make Money Using Other People's Money." Write to Susan Bondy in care of The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. All letters will be treated confidentially.

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