Thanks, I appreciate the kind words.
She's taken her credit scores from about 600 to 700 in the last year under my guidance which is a very good thing. A year a half or so from now when it's time to buy out her lease her score will be strong enough to do that without me co-signing it, unlike the current situation where I co-signed her lease. She's got one more Care Credit payment to make on the CC that we're both on... so once that happens next month I'm calling up Synchrony and closing that account. One less thing to worry about. As long as she can continue on the path she's decided to take (more conservative with spending) I'm confident we'll do much better as a couple. Arguing about money absolutely sucks, as I'm sure many here know.
Good thinking on closing Care Credit. Glad things are going better.
Maybe it's a psychology issue. Being parents changes you, and maybe she grew up in a household were the 'dad' roles were exactly what you are doing (so she's expecting the same of you). That would be a good conversation to have, a re-connecting conversation, about the difference between your parents and yourself, then vs. now.
There may be a psychological issue at hand, but I don't quite think it's the one you described.
She was adopted at a couple of years old into a family with 9 kids. She was neglected pretty badly, was never given any "nice" things (when her siblings were) and felt very alienated. As a result in her mid-teens she fled from her adopted family and never looked back.
I could see her present-day excessive spending as being a way to compensate for the neglection and inability to receive nice things at a very young age and into her adolescence. Because she was on her own at a very young age though as a teenager she was forced to earn enough to pay her own bills and survive on her own which IMO was as strong of a developmental [with respect to money] event as what she went through in her childhood as an adopted kid into a large family.
Wow. That is rough.
Well.. sounds like the two of you... have alot to talk about. At least you have each other, team effort!
First, I want to thank you for all your great posts here, your perspective has been appreciated ever since I started lurking here. I'll start with this: It seems that taking the time to spend so many years with this person and trusting her enough to have a son would indicate you deeply love her. That is a factor that, while not quantifiable in dollar$, MUST be taken into account. Marriage (which is what you are in with or without the paper as your level of committment shows) is for the long haul, and is riddled with ups and downs. You'll never really know everything about each other, but expect growth, which means change. In addition, she's obviously been loyal, and submitted to you, and you have both made the necessary changes to acclimate. Finding someone you love, care about, enjoy is priceless, and if the sex is good, i'd say you hit a home run. If these things are true, the foundation is good as they are priceless and much harder to find.
I used the word "surrender" before because its usually difficult for us guys to comprehend what it means for a female to enter into a long term committment with us. (ESPECIALLY without the security of a committment in paper) Keep first and foremost in your mind the reasons you loved her initially and always operate from there.
As for the finances, if the above things are true, then that is easy, either:
1. Have her contribute a pre-determined (higer percentage) amount of each paycheck to, say a joint account and you handle ALL of the bills/saving duties leaving her with the remainder to spend as she wants. (this actually works in my house because I make 90% of the money and the Mrs works for my company so ALL of her money is flash money and she can spend ALL of it, but I DONT pay her credit cards... well mostly :-) )
2. Assign her 25% of the household bills, as well as a small preset amount to go to your joint savings efforts. Obviously you want to retain control of the Mortgage, property taxes and anything with your name on it. Instead of each of you paying a percentage of the individual bills, assign 25% by value to her, say the cable and Electric bills, and have them put in HER name only. Then all other credit card bills, recreational spending, etc, are the responsibility of their owner. YOU keep up with your credit cards, car payments, etc, as does she.
There are 2 Important differences here. With #1, you are being a man and stepping up and doing what perhaps she wants you to do anyway. With #2 if she is irresponsible (which honestly listening to you I doubt she is) she is the one who pays the price for her shortcomings. Case in point, if she fails to pay the electric bill, be prepared to sit in the dark for as long as you need to in order to let the importance of good management sink in. Eventually the seriousness will sit in, perhaps coupled with a little resentment for a short time, but you'll be ok. AND you'll pay no price creditwise for her shortcomings. (btw Immediately close out any joint credit accounts as well)
Either way, she seems like she deserves to be dealt with gently as there's nothing said to make me think she's nothing other than a good girl and a good catch. If that's the case, anything you have to do, even if it's a variation of all the suggestions here, is worth it. She may just be feeling the emotional toll of childhood, family, relationship, school, motherhood etc. I'm sure once she embarks on her career and begins making much more money, those financial issues will settle down and both of you will be less stressed.
Oh by the way, props to Thomas Thumb and tacpoly... good advice you two.
Just relax. You'll both be fine. :-)