Dear Prudence

Dear Prudence Uncensored: The Financial Fiasco

Every week, Danny Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: the financial fiasco.


It’s a DOOZY

Since they do not have kids, I would just leave.

Danny: I know it’s not super helpful now to be like, “THAT WAS SO MUCH MONEY”



Nicole: There is no financial transparency and he is a spendthrifts


I mean there are loads of handy depressing calculators about how long $2mil will last you if you are just a fool. Not long! But he obviously was going to have to work again someday!


Danny: yeah and it’s just like—you two have missed so many opportunities to have this conversation over 20 years!

Nicole: He has spent 30 years whining and doing not much else? And he’s doing the thing that’s like “I’M A LOSER” to get her to stop trying to fix things.


Danny: did you just never talk about retirement or employment over the last 20 years? ever?

Nicole: SO MANY

It’s nonsense. So, anyway, I automatically hate him and want her to leave him BUT she seems to love him? Weird.

Danny: I mean, I think this is a very codependent situation

Nicole: Yep.

DO NOT let him convince you to sell that place.

Danny: so I think it will be good for them to work together, if that’s possible


but yeah, don’t sell the house

keep it in your name, do whatever you have to do to protect that asset

Nicole: He also needs to get a job, however much he doesn’t like the idea of being embarrassed by a “normal” job.

He needs to contribute financially.

I also recognize that he is indeed depressed.

So I don’t want to be like “this fuckin layabout”

Danny: but there’s also the fact that he’s continually/cyclically blaming her for his choices

Nicole: but you need to cut corners where you can and he needs to be in treatment w a professional

Danny: and that is not “depression,” that’s a shitty choice he’s making


Nicole: I mean, that’s my absolute deal-breaker no go

I cannot handle that

Danny: yeah I mean you may end up having to leave

I don’t think that should be your next move

Nicole: Right.

You also need to pull your credit reports

Danny: but if he continues to refuse to work with you, he won’t face reality and apply for a job he can realistically get, won’t see a counselor, blames you for having been an author (??)

Nicole: right now

Danny: at a certain point you have to walk


Nicole: The likelihood that he wants to sell the place bc he’s dragged you deeper into the hole than you know? High!


both of your credit reports, all cards on the table, full financial transparency


I’m talking “envelopes of cash method” to make sure you’re actually cutting back on spending (they can google this.)

You’re going to have to go financial transparency in a messy costly divorce anyway, do it now while you still love each other

Danny: yes

and this will need to become the sort of thing you check in about weekly, if not daily

it took you two 20 years of not talking about the obvious to get here


to get somewhere else is going to take more than one or two conversations

Nicole: Yes, absolutely. There has been appalling communication.

Danny: and I think the way you can frame it to your husband is this:

“Right now, we’re both miserable and feel stuck. We can’t go on this way much longer. I want to take a searching look at our finances together and stop avoiding the conversations we’ve been putting off.”


Nicole: Good.

Danny: if he’s willing to take even baby steps in that direction, you guys can make tough decisions together and slowly turn the ship around

Nicole: OH, important other advice: rent out the second home

Danny: but if he’s totally resistant and keeps sleeping all day/blaming you, then you can say:

“This is not a marriage I can stay in. I’m willing to leave over this, although I would rather be with you. That’s how seriously I take this.”

Nicole: it should be bringing in income, not just sitting there, and he’ll be less whiny about it if it’s making money.

(I am clearly the one focused on their financial health and you are answering the actual marriage stuff.)


Danny: no it’s both super important!


they need to be able to keep a roof over their heads, but they also need to figure out whether or not it’s possible to work together here

Nicole: Right!

Danny: and I want the LW to be able to feel like, if they absolutely have to walk away, they know that they at least gave their husband maximal warning

because for the last 20 years it hasn’t been urgent

and now it is

Nicole: That’s going to be hugely important to her.

Danny: and good luck! This is really big, and it took decades to get here. I think the most important line to draw is this, though: regardless of his depression and how much you love him, if your husband continues blaming the fact that you experienced some career success for his failure to get a job (!) or saying that you’re responsible for his being “a loser,” then I think you should walk away. That’s not love.