'Where my husband was going when he said he was at work'

CHRIS and I had been married for about three years when things started to go wobbly between us. I couldn't figure out what was going on but suddenly he became super weird about money.

He'd always managed our finances, which in hindsight was a massive mistake, but he said an increase in interest rates meant he had to do some shuffling with our bank accounts. I foolishly believed him.

But Chris said he'd handle it. He always did. That's what I loved about him - he was so dependable. I know that doesn't sound sexy but it's what I fell in love with when we first met. I grew up with a dad who had a gambling problem. We never had money when I was growing up, and my parents were always stressed. My dad eventually sought help and my parents managed to repair their broken marriage, but for me the damage had already been done and I absorbed that stress and vowed that when I grew up and got married, I'd marry someone responsible. Someone who could take care of me and my kids.

I thought I had.

Each morning, Chris kissed me goodbye and went to his public service job in the city. He was a project manager. I was a primary school teacher at the school around the corner, so I was always the last to leave and the first to arrive home in the afternoon. I packed both our lunches as we had breakfast together and chatted about our plans for the day. We were both morning people and we had a harmonious life together.

The one day I was buying groceries and my debit card was declined. That was weird because we always put our everyday spending budget in on the first of the month and it was only the second week. I put the groceries on my emergency credit card and went home.

I asked Chris over dinner if there was something wrong with our account. He said it must have been a mistake and that he'd check it out. I forgot to follow up with him because all seemed fine after that - well, for a few weeks anyway.

Then it happened again. This time when I went to use my emergency credit card that was declined too. Humiliated, I left a trolley full of groceries at the supermarket and went home.

This time I asked Chris to be straight with me.

"What's going on?" I demanded. "I know there's something you're not telling me."

That's when Chris admitted he'd lost his job. Not last week or even last month - he'd lost it a year ago. I was dumbfounded. All those lunches I'd packed. All those chats about our days. All those months, he'd been lying to my face.

Chris said at first he was confident he could find a job easily, so he dipped into our savings, which was supposed to be a deposit for our first home, to cover things in the short term. But as time went on and the account started to empty, his confidence that he'd find a job waned and he started to panic.

And then Chris did something that he and I both knew I'd find unforgivable. He decided to try to recoup the lost savings at the casino. It was only small amounts at first to dip his toe in the water, but as he became more desperate the amounts got bigger until we were absolutely skint and couldn't even afford to buy food.

Now we had nothing, couldn't pay our bills, and he didn't know what to do.

He sat there sobbing at our kitchen table, and all I could feel was fury and disgust.

"What have you been doing all this time when you've kissed me goodbye and told me you were going to work every day?" I asked.

"At first I was spending the day at the library, using the computers and looking for jobs," he said. "I met colleagues and friends who might know about work for coffees and lunches. I cold called. I did everything I could think of.

"Then I started walking around shopping centres and museums - anything to keep busy," he said. "And then when things got bad, I went to the casino."

Chris told me he felt awful but he was relieved that I finally knew the truth.

I told him to get out.

Chris went to stay with his parents, and six months later he's still living there. My parents lent me some money to get me out of the hole I found myself in.

Chris is still working hard to win me back but he's broken my trust in such a profound and calculated way, there's no way he's ever coming back. And it's absolutely the last time I'll ever allow someone else to be in charge of my finances. Now I'm saving from scratch for a house deposit and I'll be doing it on my own. Anything else is a gamble I'm not willing to take. 

This originally appeared on Kidspot and has been republished with permission.

News Corp Australia

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