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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 308881  
Subject: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 5:32 PM
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A coworker has asked me to ask my gurus for help. PLEASE let's keep this within the scope of the request, okay?

Background (long and scrolly):
Coworker (B) has been married to his wife (K) for a very long time. They have 3 children and the oldest is 15. B has a full time job. K sometimes works part time for her church. She has held a minimum wage job in the recent past for a few months, but quit (for various reasons) and it is unlikely that she will be working again any time soon. K has problems with depression, spending, responsibility, basic math (or perhaps merely the depression getting in the way of accepting that spending X several times is going to overdraw an account that barely had X in it to start with), rebellion, etc. B has given K access and removed several times in the last 5 years (the time that I've know B - before that he was part of the problem, but I've helped him at least get his own butt in check) as she maxed out the cards and overdrew the checking and all the other things you would expect.

In other words, K is not fiscally responsible and now has almost no access to any money.

B and K are conservative christians, and for that reason (and the kids) divorce is not the answer B wishes to try at this time... unless this current project fails.

K denies having depression (and does the classic things like stopping her meds because she's fine, and then doesn't get out of bed for a week and blames him for her lack of motivation in anything).

The money issue has become the focus of everything. K says that B doesn't love her and isn't treating her like part of the marriage because he won't let her touch the money. B has finally accepted that if he ever lets her have access to his account, she'll sink them again, as she has done the last 5+ times (that I know of).

Etc. Etc. Etc. Fill in all the blanks - you all know the story and 50 more like it.




The challenge:

K says (quite correctly) that she has no way to prove to B that she has changed, since she has no access to anything. B is willing to set up some kind of process and let her prove herself, but wants to severely limit his liability and be able to back out of all of it when (not if) she screws it up.

B wants to have the exact process in a contract between them. Nothing legally binding, just something that he can point to and clearly say "I am revoking your control of area X because you didn't fulfill our contract in paragraph Y." He *will* fulfill his side and let her control areas as she proves she can be responsible with them. But when he stops her access again this time he wants her to know why, in writing, in black and white, with no wiggle room and no confusion and no shifting of blame.

His thought is to start with the grocery money and an allowance. He knows (since he's been doing the shopping) that groceries cost $x per week when he doesn't use coupons or hunt too hard for bargains. His thought is to give her that $x + weeklyAllowance times 2 since he gets paid every other week, and have her start by proving she can budget and keep her hands off of next week's grocery money rather than spend it on herself. He plans to let her use any savings on herself without reporting to him in any way, she simply has to provide 3 meals a day for the family every day and do it from that budget.

So he's looking for something to spell it out. Something like:

1) B will give K $x every 2 weeks to be used for groceries and personal use. K must provide 3 meals per day out of this and can use any extra in any way she wants. B will provide additional funds as needed for any doctor's visits, prescriptions, clothing for the children, house maintenance, etc. but K must inform B one week in advance of any non-emergency spending needs.

2) If K fulfills her side of the agreement for Y months, an additional $x will be added to the funds and K will also be responsible to pay for <something> out of it.

3) If K fulfills her responsibilities with these funds for an additional Y months...

Etc. Eventually leading to K handling all the finances.

B would also like to include somewhere a clause that says K needs to open a checking account and manage it for X months without any overdrafts before he'll let her handle <something financial currently unspecified>.

Summary: Please help draw up a contract that isn't intended to be legally binding that would gradually, as safely as possible, transfer financial control from B to K with metrics and consequences clearly spelled out. And please help suggest some possible metrics and consequences.

No, divorce is not within the scope of this request. It will probably happen at some point, but this isn't about forcing such an issue, it's about helping K come to terms with her limitations in as objective a manner as possible.

Depression counseling is also not in the scope. B has already insisted on counseling and K doesn't go. But it wouldn't hurt to consider adding paragraphs about housework that needs to be accomplished.

Yes, this is all very much like trying to parent a teenager. Yes, it is demeaning to the spouse being treated like a child. Stipulated. The goal is to let her prove she's an adult, and give her the adult responsibilities and privileges as she earns them.


Any more typing I do will be either excuses or irritation, so I'll stop here. Thanks for any help.

Frydaze1
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Author: aj485 Big gold star, 5000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296017 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 5:54 PM
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B and K are conservative christians, and for that reason (and the kids) divorce is not the answer B wishes to try at this time... unless this current project fails.

They might want to try Crown Financial http://www.crown.org/ before trying the contract thing. I've heard good things about it. It looks like they have some upcoming seminars in CA.

AJ

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296018 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 6:07 PM
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I'll pass that one along. Thank you.


Frydaze1

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Author: llamalluv Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296019 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 6:32 PM
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There is no way that I would let an untreated depressed person handle all the family finances, nor would I expect him/her to. That's too difficult. She obviously is not good at it, so I don't understand why they can't just do envelopes for the items that she needs to buy.

And honestly, she sounds a lot like my mother, who is not depressed but bipolar (manic depression) with the excessive spending and inability to hold a job and the rebellion. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable trusting a person who refuses to get medical help to take care of him/herself.

And I know that that absolutely doesn't answer your question. Sorry.

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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296020 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 6:58 PM
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I'd start with:


1. Take whatever meds both partners take together at the beginning or end of the day, together. Every day.


If they wont do that, nothing else is worth bothering with.



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: Gingko100 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296022 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 7:09 PM
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Totally overly complicated.

Why cannot he just write up exactly what you said above just on a slip of paper, and then create a NEW joint checking account with only the amounts mentioned above in it. He could write a check or transfer $X in every 2 weeks to fund it. She would have full access to those funds and none other so could do no further damage. Seems easy, risk-free and not overly micro-managing.

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296024 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 7:22 PM
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Responses to all so far:

1) Envelopes won't work right now. That's too much money all at once.

2) She's not currently on any depression meds because she hasn't gone to the doctor for a refill because she "isn't depressed"

3) Yes, it's overly complicated. It would be nice to just tell her to get the hell out and lie in the road and die, but that probably isn't good for a marriage, yes? He's trying to let her succeed or fail with terms he can cope with.

4) A joint checking is a terrible idea. They did that several times and she spends the money *knowing* the check to her doctor is about to clear.

llamalluv: Thank you for at least acknowledging that you weren't answering the question. Everyone else seems to want to go the routes they've already gone.

It's not *my* first rodeo, even if it were his (which it isn't) so let's start with the idea that most of the normal routes have already been tried. Let's just work within the scope of this, please? Pretend it's a teenager without depression issues if that helps you focus on what I'm asking. Can you think of some reasonable steps and metrics to transfer control of the finances?

Thanks,
Frydaze1

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296025 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 7:25 PM
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Why cannot he just write up exactly what you said above just on a slip of paper, and then create a NEW joint checking account with only the amounts mentioned above in it. He could write a check or transfer $X in every 2 weeks to fund it. She would have full access to those funds and none other so could do no further damage. Seems easy, risk-free and not overly micro-managing.

That sounds good to me, too. Write it out, just as you said, with the amounts they agree on. Both partners sign. They balance the account together, at least for the first month or two. As K shows herself capable of handling the responsibility (yes, I know, it should be "if" she shows herself capable) then she can be given more and more responsibility.

But working with Crown, or perhaps taking Dave Ramsey's course, would help her focus more on where her spending is going.

Nancy

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296026 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 7:29 PM
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Why cannot he just write up exactly what you said above just on a slip of paper, and then create a NEW joint checking account with only the amounts mentioned above in it. He could write a check or transfer $X in every 2 weeks to fund it. She would have full access to those funds and none other so could do no further damage. Seems easy, risk-free and not overly micro-managing.

The last time they did this, she managed to overdraw the account by $300 and blame him because she kept spending the money before things cleared. And she blamed him for not transferring the money fast enough the third time that she'd spent it on something it wasn't intended for.

The object here isn't merely to let her handle some finances, it's to have some written agreement about what needs to be done, how, how often, etc. so that if she doesn't do it she doesn't come complaining that she's an equal partner in the marriage and should have full access to his paycheck.

Yes, it's micro-managing. Yes, it's overly complicated. Yes, it sucks. It's a semi-formal way of putting his foot down with a written list of why he's doing it.


Frydaze1

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296027 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 7:30 PM
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A joint checking is a terrible idea. They did that several times and she spends the money *knowing* the check to her doctor is about to clear.

I wasn't thinking about it in terms of "the" joint checking account. His part would be to move money in when appropriate. The money that is there would be for the household and her use only. The big bills would be paid from his own checking account, which she wouldn't have access to.

Nancy

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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296029 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 7:50 PM
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Frydaze1: "In other words, K is not fiscally responsible and now has almost no access to any money.

B and K are conservative christians, and for that reason (and the kids) divorce is not the answer B wishes to try at this time... unless this current project fails."


Frydaze1: "The object here isn't merely to let her handle some finances, it's to have some written agreement about what needs to be done, how, how often, etc. so that if she doesn't do it she doesn't come complaining that she's an equal partner in the marriage and should have full access to his paycheck."

I have a hard time reconciling "conservative christians" and "equal partner in the marriage". All the conservative christian stuff I have read about marriage say that the husband is in charge and the wife follows his lead.

"In the 1998 [Southern Baptist] convention they revised the Baptist Faith and Message to state that wives must submit to their husbands. In 2000, they passed rules to prevent women from serving as pastor."

http://atheism.about.com/od/baptistssouthernbaptists/a/bapti...

I am certain that you can find other conservative christian denominations that believe similiarly; maybe even their particular brand of religion. It is not what I believe, but perhaps she could be convinced that her husband should be and is the leader WRT to finances.

Also, I fail to see why you categorically reject a joint checking account. As another poster noted, it could easily be a second checking account, without overdraft protection, with automatic deposits from the primary checking account that the husband solely controls, and with the wife in sole possession of the check book and/or debit card.

IOW, money going in is automated and money coming out is controlled entirely by the wife.

And given what you have written, I cannot imagine the husband ever, under any circumstances, voluntarily delivering his wife complete control of the finances.

Cliches abound - a leopard does not change its spots;

once bitten, twice shy;

Einstein's definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results;

etc., etc., etc.

Just my $0.02 (may or may not be helpful).

Regards, JAFO

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296030 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:00 PM
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Yes, Jafo, all of that.

I think the problem is that I gave too much information without making my request clear enough.

I am *not* looking for ways to structure their finances to give her control.

I am looking for small, measurable, reasonable steps to hand her for management so that she can't hurt him too badly *and* so that he can have a written contract that backs him up when he tells her she's never touching his money again because she mismanaged it according to their clearly spelled-out agreement. Nothing that any responsible person couldn't easily succeed at, but that a *not* responsible person can't destroy him with.

But the goal here is the written agreement. To make the goal her management of the finances isn't reasonable. She can't do it. The goal is to show that in an objective fashion so she'll quit using it as the excuse for why their marriage doesn't work. (Last year it was because he had a beer on the occasional weekend. The year before it was that he didn't go to church (and when he started going, she stopped.))

This isn't a solution folks. I'm not looking for a solution. I'm looking for a checklist that will end the next financial argument.

Frydaze1

P.S. Yes, the "God says I'm in charge" argument is a good one... but it depends on which church you're going to.

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296031 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:09 PM
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[This is a rough draft, but it's a starting point.]

Contract by and between B and K for the purpose of money management.

B and K will open a joint checking account. Every two weeks B will transfer $X00.00 to this account.

The money in the account is for the purpose of basic household needs. This includes food. K shall provide three nourishing meals each day. There will be no take-out and no restaurant meals save in those cases when both B and K agree. Additional household expenses include [he'll have to put in his own choices here: copays, prescriptions, gas for the car, notepaper for the kids, whatever]. Additional money will be added for any necessary purchase provided B is informed of the need at least one week ahead of time. Any amount of money left at the end of two weeks will be K's to spend as she likes, provided that any and all household needs have been met first. Household needs include the cleanliness of the house, laundry completed and put away, any other household task he thinks she should do and doesn't.

There will be no purchase over the amount of $Y without the consent of both B and K. (This is to keep her from buying something wildly expensive and expecting him to pay for it). Failure to fulfill this part of the agreement will result in the immediate closure of the checking account.

At the end of the first month B and K will balance the account together. After that K will be responsible for balancing the account, with the understanding that B has the right to examine the checkbook at any time he chooses. All entries to the checkbook will be entered on the same day as the purchase. Failure to keep the checkbook up to date, or failure to have it available upon request will result in the immediate closure of the checking account.

At the end of Y months, provided that both B and K have fulfilled obligations, additional money will be added to the checking account. With this additional money K will also be expected to pay for [whatever items she used to have to ask for a week in advance]. In addition, K will be allowed to choose one night of every two week period for a take-out dinner or a restaurant meal, provided the total cost is less than $W.

If K continues to maintain the checkbook and does not have any overdrafts, at the end of Y months an additional amount of money will be added to the account. K will then be responsible for L. In addition, K will now be allowed to spend C amount of money without prior consultation with B.

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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296032 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:12 PM
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<<2) She's not currently on any depression meds because she hasn't gone to the doctor for a refill because she "isn't depressed">>



Marriage is supposed to be a partnership, right? So schedule an appointment with the doctor as partners to see what medical treatment is recommended.

If they aren't willing to do that ---- the person who refuses that isn't being a partner and is refusing to behave like they are married.

It seems to me that being married involves more than refusing to get a divorce.


Seattle Pioneer

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296033 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:13 PM
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I like it, Windowseat, thanks. I'll email that to him to work from.

Can anyone think of some minor things in addition to groceries that might be handed to her for management under this type of system?

TIA,
Frydaze1

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296034 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:16 PM
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Marriage is supposed to be a partnership, right? So schedule an appointment with the doctor as partners to see what medical treatment is recommended.

If they aren't willing to do that ---- the person who refuses that isn't being a partner and is refusing to behave like they are married.

It seems to me that being married involves more than refusing to get a divorce.


Agreed, but sometimes divorce involves more than refusing to be a partner. It's a complicated thing.


Frydaze1

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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296035 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:17 PM
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Sounds like an opportunity for some Pastoral counseling.


Again, I'd start with asking the Pastor to endorse a joint visit to a doctor to decide if anti-depression medication should be prescribed. If so, I would presume the Pastor would endorse that the medication be taken as prescribed and in the presence of the other spouse to verify that has been done.



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296036 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:19 PM
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Can anyone think of some minor things in addition to groceries that might be handed to her for management under this type of system?

Gifts for family and friends? Do they garden? If so she could buy plants and so on. Small household repairs?

It's hard to tell without knowing something about their lives.

Nancy

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Author: JAFO31 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296037 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:21 PM
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Frydaze1: "I think the problem is that I gave too much information without making my request clear enough.

I am *not* looking for ways to structure their finances to give her control."


That is not what you wrote in your first post:

{{{"B wants to have the exact process in a contract between them. Nothing legally binding, just something that he can point to and clearly say "I am revoking your control of area X because you didn't fulfill our contract in paragraph Y." He *will* fulfill his side and let her control areas as she proves she can be responsible with them. But when he stops her access again this time he wants her to know why, in writing, in black and white, with no wiggle room and no confusion and no shifting of blame.

His thought is to start with the grocery money and an allowance. He knows (since he's been doing the shopping) that groceries cost $x per week when he doesn't use coupons or hunt too hard for bargains. His thought is to give her that $x + weeklyAllowance times 2 since he gets paid every other week, and have her start by proving she can budget and keep her hands off of next week's grocery money rather than spend it on herself. He plans to let her use any savings on herself without reporting to him in any way, she simply has to provide 3 meals a day for the family every day and do it from that budget.

So he's looking for something to spell it out. Something like:

1) B will give K $x every 2 weeks to be used for groceries and personal use. K must provide 3 meals per day out of this and can use any extra in any way she wants. B will provide additional funds as needed for any doctor's visits, prescriptions, clothing for the children, house maintenance, etc. but K must inform B one week in advance of any non-emergency spending needs.

2) If K fulfills her side of the agreement for Y months, an additional $x will be added to the funds and K will also be responsible to pay for <something> out of it.

3) If K fulfills her responsibilities with these funds for an additional Y months...

Etc. Eventually leading to K handling all the finances. [emphasis added]"


Unfortunately, the pessimist in me believes that you are setting an impossible task.

Do the meals need to be healthy?

What if the family will not eat the meals?

What if it is oatmeal for breakfast, egg salad sandwiches for lunch and beans and wienies for dinner, every day for weeks on end?

Can you get away with a generic "equivalent to meals prepared for the last x weeks"?

Who pays for meals out?

What if the number of meals out increases? Decreases?

Is a two or three week agreed menu rotation required (like the kind every school once had for lunch) for 3 meals X 7 days?

Etc.

IOW, do you believe that there is any "contract" that can be written that cannot (or will not) be twisted by the wife if and when she fails???

I suspect that the husband is looking for a "silver bullet" that does not exist and that peace will not be forthcoming thereafter [most contracts are not self-executing], unless there is a third-party neutral whose word both will accept. I forget which OP suggested a particular counseling service, but I strongly suspect that a "neutral" will be required (and even then it might not work).

Regards, JAFO

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Author: Gingko100 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296038 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:22 PM
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You misunderstand my statement about a joint checking account. I meant one ONLY for the groceries, etc.

If she is to spend $100/wk on groceries and household items etc, then that account gets funded by $200 biweekly from an account only he controls. If she is in fact responsible then it should be sufficient for her to manage. There should be no doctor's bills or anything else being used from it. If she is not responsible and uses it for shoes or movies, then, well yes she has proved she cannot manage the money.

I see no risk here.

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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296039 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:25 PM
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<<It seems to me that being married involves more than refusing to get a divorce.

Agreed, but sometimes divorce involves more than refusing to be a partner. It's a complicated thing.


Frydaze1
>>


Sorry, but I have no idea what that means.

Illnesses like depression mean that the ill person cannot be relied upon to act reasonably. You therefore can't rely on the ill person to be acting reasonably by not seeing a doctor or choosing not to take prescribed medication.

My theory here is that it's a waste of time to bargain about finances with an untreated depressive. The place to start is to focus every means of influence on persuading the ill person to see their doctor accompanied by her husband, who should be informed of prescribed medications and how they should be administered.

The husband then has a duty to assist and verify that the ill person takes the medications as prescribed.


My theory is that this is job #1. Anything else is probably a waste of time until you deal with the depression illness as directed by a doctor.



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: Gingko100 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296040 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:27 PM
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Oh, and the account would - as I said before - have an accompanying letter or statement exactly as written above stating terms of use.

Anything more is unnecessary and will not in fact make someone do things they don't want to do. A more involved contract would do no more or less than the statement you wrote out above, which seems fine to me. A structure that would let her succeed within limited parameters of control is needed, and the rest is window dressing.

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Author: joelcorley Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296041 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:38 PM
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Totally overly complicated.

Why cannot he just write up exactly what you said above just on a slip of paper, and then create a NEW joint checking account with only the amounts mentioned above in it. He could write a check or transfer $X in every 2 weeks to fund it. She would have full access to those funds and none other so could do no further damage. Seems easy, risk-free and not overly micro-managing.


What Gingko100 said ... except I wouldn't dare make the account joint. That would guarantee that K would eventually sabotage his ChexSys report.

If she can't or won't earn money on her own, I'd say:

1. Separate finances;
2. Pay for everything himself; and,
3. Either give her an allowance or tell her to go out and work for her spending money - assuming he doesn't have enough in their budget.

This won't fix things for B & K. It will only help B retain some semblance of sanity for a while longer. K has to fix this for herself or B needs to also consider an exit strategy.

Separating finances is exactly what I did with my ex-wife back around 1990. (K even sounds a bit like my ex.) I took all the financial accounts away from her and told her if she wanted any money, she'd either go to work or go to school so she could get a real job - after all, she wasn't really taking care of either the kids or the house at that point.

This sort of worked for me for almost 10 years ... and was at the same time a dismal failure, so I highly don't recommend it.

By some time in 1991 all of our finances were separated. She was enrolled in junior college. She had applied for and received her first student loans. And I was providing her some money to help pay for course materials. Ultimately she still had to take substitute teaching jobs on her days off to pay some of the bills she wracked up.

Unfortunately our little agreement never envisioned her actually contributing to the household. Instead after graduating, she accumulated an additional >$40K in credit card debt and deferred her student loans - even though she had 1/3rd of the household's take-home pay. (You have no idea how irritating that kind of one-sided arrangement can get after a few years.)

She did start paying for her own car, but I insisted because it was being used mainly to help her get to and from her job. Occasionally she'd buy groceries, though mostly that was just junk (and junk food) we really didn't need, but she insisted it was her trying to do her part. (aj485 can attest to some of the junk she bought and left in the house for me to "enjoy".)

The division allowed us to stay together almost 10 additional years. It really messed with my head and I think it messed with my kid's as well. I think we would all have been better off had I gotten divorced in 1990. And in the end we wound up fighting over money anyway and she left in large part over those fights. (Thank goodness!)

I'm sure everyone knows what I'd recommend B do, so I won't bother saying the D word.

BTW, as far as I'm aware my ex-wife still has never managed to hold down the same job for more than about 18 to 20 months. She also still doesn't pay her bills on time (or in some cases at all), even though I paid off almost everything for her in the divorce so she'd have a freh start. Some things a college degree and forced personal responsibility apparently can not change.

- Joel

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Author: GuildWarsQueen Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296042 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:55 PM
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Why cannot he just write up exactly what you said above just on a slip of paper, and then create a NEW joint checking account with only the amounts mentioned above in it. He could write a check or transfer $X in every 2 weeks to fund it. She would have full access to those funds and none other so could do no further damage. Seems easy, risk-free and not overly micro-managing.

She could still overdraw the account and do damage that way.

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Author: joelcorley Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296043 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 8:58 PM
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Frydaze1,

You wrote, I am looking for small, measurable, reasonable steps to hand her for management so that she can't hurt him too badly *and* so that he can have a written contract that backs him up when he tells her she's never touching his money again because she mismanaged it according to their clearly spelled-out agreement. Nothing that any responsible person couldn't easily succeed at, but that a *not* responsible person can't destroy him with.

You've already as much as admitted K is not a rational person. What is the point of a contract if the other party is going to be irrational? Her breaking it won't prove anything to HER. She'll find some way of rationalizing the behavior and claim the contract was just some way for B to beat her up emotionally since he must have know she couldn't live up to that...

He can try to insulate himself from her destructive behavior. But it is not his responsibility and not within his power to help K regain his respect. And a contract certainly won't accomplish that goal: It simply says, "Your a kid and I don't trust you to play fair, so here are the rules we're going to live by..."

So again, what is it you're really looking for here?

I say that B makes the income and has no respect for K. K is self-destructive and has shown she can't or won't respect B and his finite income. Since it's B's income, K can take what B gives her and if she doesn't like it she can find her own money tree.

There is no law that requires one spouse to provide the other spouse access to a joint account. And there is no practical reason one is required for one spouse to provide another an allowance. B should separate accounts completely (nothing joint) and give K an allowance. If she can't live with that, it's K's problem to solve. Maybe by solving it in a responsible way she can earn some of B's respect.

- Joel

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Author: GuildWarsQueen Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296044 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 9:00 PM
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I am looking for small, measurable, reasonable steps to hand her for management so that she can't hurt him too badly *and* so that he can have a written contract that backs him up when he tells her she's never touching his money again because she mismanaged it according to their clearly spelled-out agreement. Nothing that any responsible person couldn't easily succeed at, but that a *not* responsible person can't destroy him with.

But the goal here is the written agreement. To make the goal her management of the finances isn't reasonable. She can't do it. The goal is to show that in an objective fashion so she'll quit using it as the excuse for why their marriage doesn't work. (Last year it was because he had a beer on the occasional weekend. The year before it was that he didn't go to church (and when he started going, she stopped.))

This isn't a solution folks. I'm not looking for a solution. I'm looking for a checklist that will end the next financial argument.


You're not going to find it because she will find something to argue about. You're not dealing with a rational person. (OK, I know it's your coworker who actually has to deal with her - same point.)

You could give him the best most iron clad contract and there will still be trouble. Why? Because she got back change that had quarters from different states on the back and that means she deserves a vacation to go visit there. I know that's not a rational reason, but she's not rational and that's the type of crap that's going to happen.

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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296045 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 9:01 PM
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<<Some things a college degree and forced personal responsibility apparently can not change.

- Joel >>



Perhaps I've asked this before, but I presume there were warning signs that might have warned you off had you been paying attention before the marriage.

If so, what kinds of things were they?



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296046 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 9:04 PM
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I suspect that the husband is looking for a "silver bullet" that does not exist and that peace will not be forthcoming thereafter [most contracts are not self-executing], unless there is a third-party neutral whose word both will accept. I forget which OP suggested a particular counseling service, but I strongly suspect that a "neutral" will be required (and even then it might not work).

I don't think he's looking for an answer to the problem (or if he is, he doesn't expect it to come from the agreement). What he's looking for, as I understand it, is something he can point to. "We sat down and worked out a contract for your spending. You failed to uphold parts A B and D. Therefore I don't see why I should trust you with money now, when you've failed to uphold our agreement."

Nancy

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Author: Jeanwa Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296047 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 9:05 PM
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I am looking for small, measurable, reasonable steps to hand her for management so that she can't hurt him too badly *and* so that he can have a written contract that backs him up when he tells her she's never touching his money again because she mismanaged it according to their clearly spelled-out agreement. Nothing that any responsible person couldn't easily succeed at, but that a *not* responsible person can't destroy him with.

Why can't she make up the agreement? She's the one that needs to show the responsibility. Have her make up a budget and then stick to it. Then he can fund the budget. If she can't project the expenses for the week, then she certainly can't handle the actual money.

Jean

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Author: joelcorley Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296049 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 9:11 PM
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SeattlePioneer,

You wrote, Perhaps I've asked this before, but I presume there were warning signs that might have warned you off had you been paying attention before the marriage.

If so, what kinds of things were they?


Well... I'll feel pretty stupid admitting this in public; but I can always say I was young, stupid, full of hormones and looking for someone to love me...

Anyway, there were certainly signs. There was one glaring one in fact. While we were dating, she was arrested and spent a night in jail for writing a bad check. Her mom bailed her out.

Oh yeah. And her mom kept telling me what a bad choice I was making.

- Joel

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Author: madamhusker1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296050 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 9:11 PM
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I concur with SP. The place to start is with the problem, not the symptom. Treating the symptoms will NOT solve the problem.


Wife agrees to counseling, assessment, whatever is necessary to diagnose her mental issues. Wife then agrees to follow treatment regimen suggested/required by the physician or other professional.

I would make the follow-through a minimum six months... then see if any improvments to her mental state have led to changes in attitudes regarding housework, money management, etc.


If wife refuses to take the simple responsibility for her own self, expecting her to assume responsibility for others is a *mistake*. Blaming the husband for all the problems is both enabling her to avoid responsibility while destroying his own ability to manage himself and his family.


At some point she must either swim on her own, or she'll sink the entire family. If children are involved, dad's first responsibility is to see to their welfare. If wife is preventing him from doing so, then perhaps it might be better to have her committed to a mental health facility for a few weeks to see if that helps.


MH 1


~ not the answer you were looking for, but I don't see how treating the symptoms will do anything but prolong the inevitable.

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Author: joelcorley Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296052 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 9:13 PM
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Windowseat,

You wrote, I don't think he's looking for an answer to the problem (or if he is, he doesn't expect it to come from the agreement). What he's looking for, as I understand it, is something he can point to. "We sat down and worked out a contract for your spending. You failed to uphold parts A B and D. Therefore I don't see why I should trust you with money now, when you've failed to uphold our agreement."

So he's looking for her to be rational...? I'm beginning to think maybe B isn't either.

- Joel

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Author: ThyPeace Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296056 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 9:35 PM
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I applaud your desire to help your friends within the scope of what they're willing to do right now, FryDaze. I also know how exceedingly frustrating it can be to watch people who are apparently unable to act responsibly. I don't have anything more to add -- Nancy's try at the contract was a good start.

Untreated clinical depression is really hard. I really hope she eventually gets real treatment for it. It's a dreadfully difficult disease. And if it isn't depression, and it's really "all his fault," then I hope she finds the love and courage to stand up for herself and get grounded and take action to get her life straight. Either one would be great for the whole family. It really would.

ThyPeace, rooting for them even in such dire straits.

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Author: Gingko100 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296057 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 9:35 PM
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She could still overdraw the account and do damage that way.
Well, sure. That's kind of the point - see if it works within a limited context. If that happened then it didn't work, and it's immediately clear. And then one would close the account as the experiment has failed. And if there's only a few $ a week in the account it's not like she can run up huge debts.

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Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 10:15 PM
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So he's looking for her to be rational...? I'm beginning to think maybe B isn't either.

No, no. Not at all. Dow the line, in the future, when she complains about how he doesn't trust her with money, he can point to this agreement and say, "well, I tried this, and you didn't keep to the agreement. Why should I trust you now?"

Rationality has nothing to do with it. He is looking for an argument-ender.

Nancy

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296059 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 10:39 PM
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Nancy:

Yes, you nailed it exactly. This isn't about solving the depression or her problems with handling money; it's about the next time she demands equal access to the money, he can point to their contract and say "THIS is why I won't do it, so stop asking."



Jafo:
>>I am *not* looking for ways to structure their finances to give her control."<<

That is not what you wrote in your first post:


Yes, it is. What I want is a document that spells out a clear, reasonable, attainable path to earning the trust required to gain equal access to their money. I do NOT want the path to set her up for failure - it needs to be something that someone with basic math skills and responsibility can handle.

BUT there is not a chance in hell that she is going to keep the agreement. And when she doesn't, she won't be able to say it was asking too much, or unclear, or unfair.

I did actually make that clear in the original post.



MH:

I concur with SP. The place to start is with the problem, not the symptom. Treating the symptoms will NOT solve the problem.

Again, you're misunderstanding the goal. The goal isn't to solve the problem of her depression and spending. That's a different problem with a different solution. This is about being able to put his foot down and tell her (and her parents since he's going to try to bring them into this to force her to get help for her depression) that he's not asking unreasonable things. Right now they hear her delusional, depressed, poor me, side of things.

At some point she must either swim on her own, or she'll sink the entire family. If children are involved, dad's first responsibility is to see to their welfare. If wife is preventing him from doing so, then perhaps it might be better to have her committed to a mental health facility for a few weeks to see if that helps.

Yes, all of that. And believe me it's part of what he's trying to deal with. But until he can show her (and her parents and/or pastor and/or therapist) that she isn't handling basic responsibilities, it's harder to convince anyone that she has a problem to address.


SP:

My theory here is that it's a waste of time to bargain about finances with an untreated depressive. The place to start is to focus every means of influence on persuading the ill person to see their doctor accompanied by her husband, who should be informed of prescribed medications and how they should be administered.

He went the "get help again or I divorce you" road a few months ago. Unfortunately, she only went to one appointment. And he didn't follow through with the divorce because she started getting out of bed every day to "prove" she wasn't depressed. And now she's sliding again. And he's got his own abandonment issues that make him extremely resistant to putting his kids through a divorce (though he's starting to realize it might truly be better for them).

He can't frog-march her into the doctor's office. He'd like to get her parents involved since she might listen to them, but he needs backup. This is about getting that backup in order for her and her parents.



Ginko:

Well, sure. That's kind of the point - see if it works within a limited context. If that happened then it didn't work, and it's immediately clear. And then one would close the account as the experiment has failed. And if there's only a few $ a week in the account it's not like she can run up huge debts.

They already went that route and failed. Several times. And, yes, it will fail again. But without a written agreement about it, it won't matter. It'll end up in finger pointing and then she'll conveniently forget what she was supposed to do and why it didn't work. It needs to be "do this so I will trust you and give you more responsibility" instead of "I don't trust you and you can't touch any money except a little bit" (which is what it is now) until he can clearly, on paper, justify it.




Thanks, all, for the suggestions. I know you're all trying to help. But PLEASE trust me that the scope of this thing as I described is the right step to take at this time. It is the launching pad for further steps.

Frydaze1

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Author: Gingko100 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296060 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 10:43 PM
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But without a written agreement about it, it won't matter. It'll end up in finger pointing and then she'll conveniently forget what she was supposed to do and why it didn't work.
It won't matter with a written agreement as well. It will work or it won't. The agreement won't make he do anything she cannot or will not do.

Really, what you wrote above is sufficient. Or she can write her version of it. Either way it really doesn't matter as the purpose is just to document the agreement that will ultimately fail. Spending more time on it than you took to draft the OP - which seems OK - is a waste of time.

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296061 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/23/2010 11:09 PM
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Really, what you wrote above is sufficient. Or she can write her version of it. Either way it really doesn't matter as the purpose is just to document the agreement that will ultimately fail. Spending more time on it than you took to draft the OP - which seems OK - is a waste of time.

Fair enough. But I was also hoping people here could help me think of some reasonable, measurable milestones. Yes, I'm helping him draft a document of failure. It sucks. But he asked if my board could help and so I'm keeping my word by asking.

But I think you're right - I've gotten as much help as I can reasonably expect here.

Thanks, all.


Frydaze1

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Author: llambe Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296063 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 12:04 AM
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Personally I think this is a bad idea regardless --

if he wants her to have a chance to grow more responsible:
then I think if he presents a contract to her it will instead continue their current dynamic ("it's all his fault"). The only way it could possibly work (IMO) would be to have HER input in drafting the agreement vs. his presenting one. This would necessitate them sitting down together and negotiating the terms (and possible future re-negotiation) which sounds very unlikely at this point.

if he just wants proof to show her why he refuses to give her money:
then I think the contract is not worth the time and effort because he already has plenty of valid proof of why, which she doesn't accept as valid proof -- this "proof" would be no different.

LL

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Author: ishtarastarte Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296064 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 12:36 AM
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My theory here is that it's a waste of time to bargain about finances with an untreated depressive.

This happens so rarely, I have to say it: I completely agree.

Ishtar

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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296065 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 2:16 AM
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<<SeattlePioneer,

You wrote, Perhaps I've asked this before, but I presume there were warning signs that might have warned you off had you been paying attention before the marriage.

If so, what kinds of things were they?

Well... I'll feel pretty stupid admitting this in public; but I can always say I was young, stupid, full of hormones and looking for someone to love me...>>





That sounds pretty normal.

I never trusted my judgment to do any better.




<<<<Oh yeah. And her mom kept telling me what a bad choice I was making.

- Joel >>



Heh, heh! Now that DOES sound like a clue! How did you get along with your mother in law and what kind of a person was she?>>



Seattle Pioneer

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Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 2:34 AM
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<<I concur with SP. The place to start is with the problem, not the symptom. Treating the symptoms will NOT solve the problem.>>



You don't see that too often!



My best friend's first wife developed severe chronic depression and other mental issues. She could barely function as the artist she thought she was or as a mother.

My friend's solution was divorce. Occasionally he would relate this tale of woe to get a little sympathy, but I didn't have a lot to offer.

His ex-wife kept custody of their two children. When he told me how impossible it was to live with her, I pointed out that the divorce freed HIM from that problem, but saddled his young children with the problem of living with their mom by themselves, without one capable parent to help manage a difficult situation.

He never brought that issue up again after that.

I wound up being the Scoutmaster of the Boy Scout Troop the boy was in. He was kind of a strange kid who tended to keep to himself. As a teenager he became heavily involved with alcohol and drugs, pretty much rendering himself unemployable.

He's about forty. an SSI welfare case living in a men's shelter. He probably can't do better than that.

His sister soldiered on and completed a history degree. She made an effort to ride the dot com boom with some success, but was late exploiting that boom, which imploded before she could get too far.

She went back to school and got a nutrition degree, and has been working in a hospital setting the past couple of years as a professional. She's probably 34 or so, never married.

I admire her courage and grit in making her life work under some difficult circumstances.




Seattle Pioneer

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Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 2:37 AM
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<<So he's looking for her to be rational...? I'm beginning to think maybe B isn't either.

No, no. Not at all. Dow the line, in the future, when she complains about how he doesn't trust her with money, he can point to this agreement and say, "well, I tried this, and you didn't keep to the agreement. Why should I trust you now?"

Rationality has nothing to do with it. He is looking for an argument-ender.

Nancy
>>



Trying to win a debating contest is pointless. It might qualify as neurotic behavior on his part.



Seattle Pioneer

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Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 6:13 AM
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Thanks, all, for the suggestions. I know you're all trying to help. But PLEASE trust me that the scope of this thing as I described is the right step to take at this time. It is the launching pad for further steps.

One thing I thought of, and it could be added to the current contract if he so desires, or it can be a new one, would be something to the effect of "If K fails to uphold her part of the contract, she will not be given the chance for a new attempt unless she shows three months of steady effort at a minimum of two of the five following areas: laundry, house cleaning, cooking, counseling, or a part-time job."

He can decide on what exact terms he wants, or what responsibilities he wants her to show, but I think if he leaves the door open for her to prove herself in the future, his life will be easier, since he can still point to the contract and say, "when you've done your part, I'll do mine."

Nancy

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Author: 2gifts Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296069 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 8:17 AM
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Why cannot he just write up exactly what you said above just on a slip of paper, and then create a NEW joint checking account with only the amounts mentioned above in it. He could write a check or transfer $X in every 2 weeks to fund it. She would have full access to those funds and none other so could do no further damage. Seems easy, risk-free and not overly micro-managing.

If he wants to protect himself from financial damage that she may cause, then they shouldn't open a new JOINT checking account. They should open a new checking account that belongs to HER only. This way, if she overdrafts or has issues, it will only affect her and not him at all.

He can still deposit money into the account regularly, but he won't be on the hook for overdrafts.

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Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 9:24 AM
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The object here isn't merely to let her handle some finances, it's to have some written agreement about what needs to be done, how, how often, etc. so that if she doesn't do it she doesn't come complaining that she's an equal partner in the marriage and should have full access to his paycheck.

Yes, it's micro-managing. Yes, it's overly complicated. Yes, it sucks. It's a semi-formal way of putting his foot down with a written list of why he's doing it.


It's hard for me to read this thread, and hard to respond. I don't think it's about money at all. It's about trust, respect, and the marriage. Depending on the nature of their local church, it may also be about faith and the church community.

I may be reading too much of my own history into this, but here's what I think is going on:

He needs a divorce. In his heart, he knows this; but he has a problem. He believes that divorce is immoral. So he can't bring himself to implement the real solution without first proving to himself that he's done everything humanly possible to save the marriage.

The contract isn't about finding a solution to financial problems. It's not documenting to his wife that she doesn't keep agreements. It's about documenting to him that he gave her every possible chance, and she wouldn't do even the simplest possible things to help the marriage survive. When she manages to fail the very generous standards that he has set for her, he may give himself permission to divorce her. In the mean time, he's marking time and waiting for things to either get better or get enough worse that he can justify a divorce.

From my perspective now, I see the contract as a total waste of time as far as solving any financial or relationship issues. But it may not be a waste of time in terms of addressing his emotional confusion. I've been where he is, and it isn't fun. His wife only has to show a glimmer of acting a little less bad now and then to string him along for years, and he needs something to show himself that he's just being strung along.

The last time they [set up a limited funds account for the wife], she managed to overdraw the account by $300 and blame him because she kept spending the money before things cleared. And she blamed him for not transferring the money fast enough the third time that she'd spent it on something it wasn't intended for.

People who haven't lived in this environment won't understand what's going on here. In this type of situation, an unbiased observer would say that her behavior is atrocious. But in the context of the marriage, she is able to make him feel guilty and doubt that he did enough to allow her to be successful. Been there, done that, got the house and custody.

Part of what allowed me to break free of the FUD was participating in online forums, and reading my old posts. Even though it looked at any given time like then-wife was about to improve and all the problems were in the past, the online record I could read back through showed that I was just being strung along. Even so, I might not have been able to divorce her if I hadn't seen our daughter taking damage from the situation and then-wife being totally unwilling to change any of her own behaviors to give daughter a chance of getting better.

Even with all that, I don't know. The decision was taken away from me when then-wife filed for legal separation. It was a lot easier to accept that and deal with it than it would have been for me to get past the angst and be the first to file. I *might* have got to the point of filing, anyway; but then-wife did me a great favor by taking the decision out of my hands.

This isn't a solution folks. I'm not looking for a solution. I'm looking for a checklist that will end the next financial argument.

It won't end the next financial argument. She will always be able to recast history the way she wants it to be and continue to argue. At best, it might allow him to see what she's doing, bite the bullet, file for divorce, and seek custody of the kids.

This isn't about solving the depression or her problems with handling money; it's about the next time she demands equal access to the money, he can point to their contract and say "THIS is why I won't do it, so stop asking."

It won't do that. There will always be a reason that the contract wasn't fair to her and it was all his fault that she couldn't do what any rational adult with an eight grade education should have been able to do. The key is, she isn't rational.

If the two of them don't manage to address the problems with her depression, the marriage is dead. The best the contract can accomplish is to document to B's satisfaction that the marriage is indeed dead, and he should move on.

The thing I worry about that I don't see addressed in this thread is, what is this environment doing to the kids? The sooner the kids are out of a poisonous environment like this, the better chance they have of eventually being able to become functional adults. What happened to SP's friend's son, who was left in the custody of a mother with chronic mental illness, is a cautionary tale. I still have hope that my daughter (now 23) will eventually be a functional, self-supporting adult; but she certainly isn't getting there as soon as "normal" kids do. Maybe if I'd filed for divorce when she was 5, I could have managed a better outcome for her . . . or maybe I would have blindly allowed then-wife to have custody, and she'd be no better off than SP's friend's son.

Patzer

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Author: llamalluv Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296072 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 9:52 AM
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If it was my teen with depression, I'd have him/her forcibly admitted to a hospital. He doesn't have that right with a spouse, unless he gets a judge involved.

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Author: llamalluv Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296073 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 9:59 AM
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The last time they did this, she managed to overdraw the account by $300 and blame him because she kept spending the money before things cleared. And she blamed him for not transferring the money fast enough the third time that she'd spent it on something it wasn't intended for.

The new credit card laws that just went into effect on Monday should protect him somewhat. AFAIK, they could request that no OD be allowed for the checking account. The problem that will still leave them with, though, is bouncing checks all over the city. That could be resolved by not allowing her to carry around any checks.

The thing is, the only way he can control how much or how little she spends is by doling out the money, in cash, a little bit at a time. And even then, he's not going to be able to ensure she's spending it appropriately. If he gives her $200 to go buy groceries, she can just as easily go spend $200 on a pedicure and a puppy.

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Author: llamalluv Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296074 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 10:01 AM
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"In the 1998 [Southern Baptist] convention they revised the Baptist Faith and Message to state that wives must submit to their husbands. In 2000, they passed rules to prevent women from serving as pastor."

That seems a little redundant.

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Author: Jeanwa Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296075 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 10:14 AM
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If it was my teen with depression, I'd have him/her forcibly admitted to a hospital. He doesn't have that right with a spouse, unless he gets a judge involved.

Whoa, I'm speechless

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Author: Lea77 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296076 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 10:14 AM
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"In the 1998 [Southern Baptist] convention they revised the Baptist Faith and Message to state that wives must submit to their husbands.

Well, I'm pretty sure bapitsts aren't supposed to drink and catholics aren't supposed to use birth control and nobody's supposed to be having premarital sex...and somehow there seem to be alot of folks who do all of that. I don't suspect that argument will work, is all I'm saying. Most people take it as a give and take thing.

Good luck to your friend, though. I don't have any advice but I hope he finds something that works. If I were him, I would be very careful about talking down to his wife, though. It's unlikely to help matters.

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Author: pepperpear Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296078 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 10:21 AM
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Acceding to the goal of the contract -- giving B documentation that *he* will feel comfortable putting his foot down about -- here are a few thoughts:

I agree about no joint checking account -- just a checking account in her name.

I wouldn't start with a checking account though; I would start with giving her cash every two weeks. A later goal (or "goal", the quotes meaning, no we don't think she'll achieve it, but put it in writing) would be to have a checking account -- her name only, to avoid trashing his record -- and that she has to be able to do the same things with the checking account as she was doing with cash, plus the things mentioned above about keeping it up-to-date, available, etc.

Other goals (or "goals") for writing in, if he feels the need to write in additional goals at this point, could come from looking at the budget and adding additional budget categories to what she's responsible for. Haircuts, clothing, cable, other utilities, gas, stamps, church pledge, prescriptions, presents (e.g. when the kids go to birthday parties), are a few that come to mind as I think about my own budget. If B wants to write these goals in to come before the checking account, then he can write it that he gives her the cash biweekly, and she gives him the cash back as needed for items such as bills that need a check written rather than payment by cash. Write in something that allows him to verify that these are actually being paid. This might be starting off by having her show him the check and bill as she puts them together in a stamped envelope, and progresses to having him rely just on checking the following month's statement.

I hope that B is able to get the evidence he needs to be able to convince the other people in their lives that K has a problem -- even if they can't help K, it will help B to have people believe him. I hope he's able to get to whatever point he needs to be at to say "no" without allowing himself to be drawn into arguments or feeling that he hasn't done enough for K -- like what Patzer describes. I hope he's able to think hard about what environment he wants to create for his children, and whether separation might be necessary for that.

I hope B is able to think in advance about what he will do when K argues that the contract wasn't fair, or comes up with excuses about why she couldn't keep it.

I'd hope that K might eventually see light and get treatment but that sounds unlikely. Someone above mentioned that the first step ought to be demanding that she seek and follow through on treatment as a precondition to allowing some amount of financial responsibility. If B feels the need for written backup, he could get one of those "if you have X of these Y symptoms you may be depressed" tests and show her how she measures on that and lay out that the first step of responsibility is taking care of these symptoms by treatment. This might not prove anything to K but it might satisfy B's needs for proof (for himself, for others).

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296079 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 11:03 AM
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Yes, Patzer, you're right in everything you say here. But all I can do is help him go through each process as he sees it and is ready for it. This is the current step he needs to take. Hopefully it *will* get her into some kind of treatment. But if not, maybe it will help him to stop trying to fix the unfixable and be able to move on.

I've been watching the marriage deteriorate for more than 5 years. All I can do is help him through each step as he discovers what he can and can't live with, can and can't fix, can and can't control.

This is the current step. I will do my best to help him through it. And then I'll probably come back in a year and ask you all what a fair divorce settlement is to keep him blaming himself because the mother of his children doesn't pay her rent.

One step at a time, folks.



Frydaze1

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296080 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 11:06 AM
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Pepperpear:

Thank you, I think those are good goals. I will send those on to him.


Frydaze1

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Author: EarlyToRise Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296081 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 11:42 AM
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This is the current step. I will do my best to help him through it. And then I'll probably come back in a year and ask you all what a fair divorce settlement is to keep him blaming himself because the mother of his children doesn't pay her rent.

Curious: are you going to print this thread for your friend? There's some remarkably good advice in these 50 posts.

ETR

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296082 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 11:52 AM
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Curious: are you going to print this thread for your friend? There's some remarkably good advice in these 50 posts.

No, I'm not. Much of it is stuff he already knows or has already tried, and he asked me to do this because he knows I will filter it.

Also, I have been around here long enough to know that if I don't give enough background information I'll be fighting in circles about *why* I'm asking what I am, instead of getting the information I requested. (Of course, that happens anyway even when I think I've provided all the background.) I'm fairly sure he wouldn't be comfortable with how much personal information I had to give even to get this far. *I* know it's unavoidable on this board, but I don't think he'd understand that without having spent a decade here as I have.

He'd probably think he could just ask for suggestions on a financial contract and expect answers without having to dig into the whys and wherefores of their entire marital and financial history with 50+ posts of justification for each action.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA


Frydaze1

P.S. I do send some of it along, including Patzer's complete and unedited response.

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Author: Gingko100 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296083 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 12:03 PM
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BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
hee hee hee...

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296084 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 12:04 PM
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One other thing I've thought of that has nothing to do with contracts with his wife.

Does he have a will? If not, he should have one drawn up by a lawyer that will appoint someone OTHER than the wife to handle finances. Because if he doesn't, I can't begin to imagine what will happen to money that is supposed to keep his family, which includes the kids, safe through school years and college. He probably needs some sort of family trust, but a good lawyer would know for sure.

Nancy

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296085 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 12:18 PM
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Joel,

I'm sorry, I evidently didn't respond to this post and I should have. They have already been through the situation you're describing, where she has to work for any spending money, and pay for her own stuff out of it. The result was that she got a job at a pizza place, made a lot of friends at her emotional maturity level, and started living their type of life. And, yes, she ran up her credit cards and didn't pay them off. And, yes, she buys groceries but it's usually junk (though at least it's no longer free pizzas from work every night - the youngest is already having weight and cholesterol problems). And, yes, she's not doing much in the way of good parenting (and is, IMHO, more of a detriment than anything right now). She quit that job and it was a good thing, though she has maintained some of the friendships and that is NOT a good thing. Yes, working was good for her self-esteem and her understanding of budgeting. It was my suggestion that she do so. But the other downside was that it was difficult to properly supervise the kids that way and the eldest started getting into some trouble.

As I said in my OP, this story is just like all of them that you're all familiar with. There's nothing unique in it, except that they've got me to help. <cheesy grin>

It's doomed. I know that. I'm just going to help B come to terms with it. He's 90% there, and I'm not going to push him. It needs to be his decision, and he has to be able to live with himself afterward.


And then he'll probably come here and try to get his financial life in order, and spend the next 5 years swearing every time he hears her name, and the 40 years after that being grateful that it's over.


Frydaze1

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296086 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 12:19 PM
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Does he have a will? If not, he should have one drawn up by a lawyer that will appoint someone OTHER than the wife to handle finances. Because if he doesn't, I can't begin to imagine what will happen to money that is supposed to keep his family, which includes the kids, safe through school years and college. He probably needs some sort of family trust, but a good lawyer would know for sure.

Yes, I've mentioned this to him in the past. And he does have serious health issues (as does she). Thank you for the reminder.


Frydaze1

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Author: EarlyToRise Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296087 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 12:25 PM
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It's doomed. I know that. I'm just going to help B come to terms with it. He's 90% there, and I'm not going to push him. It needs to be his decision, and he has to be able to live with himself afterward.

Best of luck to you. Your friend is lucky to have you to lean on.

ETR

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Author: ZootsTwin One star, 50 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296088 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 12:48 PM
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I think someone already said this, but just wanted to say it again in case I'm not remembering correctly.

I'd say keep the account in her name only, for three reasons:

(1) Part of managing an account is making the deposits. The contract could, for instance, stipulate that B will write K a check for $X every two weeks, and K must make the deposit.

(2) Having K make the deposit removes K's ability to blame the lack of funds in the account on B. Leaving K with the "out" that she would have if B makes the deposits could negate the efficacy of the "argument-ending" function of this agreement.

(3) If K does not manage the account appropriately (as we are reasonably certain will be the case), B should be protected from whatever black marks that would put on his financial record. Having the account in K's name only would mean that whatever mistakes K makes in handling it will not have a negative effect on B.


One more thing I just thought of while typing the above:

Since everyone is reasonably certain that K will fail at the task of managing the account appropriately, and since the management of the account is critical to providing meals for the family (which includes children, if I'm recalling the original post correctly), some provision should be made to be sure the kids are getting fed properly when this does end up failing. I understand the reasoning behind the process and the importance of this in getting the rest of support structure of parents and pastor and others in place, but whatever course of action is pursued needs to have provision for protecting the children's physical and emotional health.

ZT

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Author: pepperpear Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296089 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 12:56 PM
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Thank you, I think those are good goals. I will send those on to him.

I'm glad you think they may be helpful. BTW, they're not in any particular order.

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Author: impolite Big gold star, 5000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296090 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 1:17 PM
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I agree with Patzer - he's just biding his time to a divorce at this rate.

But I wanted to issue a word of caution before he approaches her with a contract such as this: others unfamiliar with the situation might take such a contract as "controlling".

I *highly* suggest he get at least his clergy, if not a secular marriage counselor, to help him and her come to this contract together. No, it might not make much of a difference and yes, it will cost extra time and money to do so, but by drafting something like this without witnesses and collaboration is just setting him up for problems with the eventual divorce.

Namely, she will accuse him of being controlling (i.e. an emotional abuser) and he will be handing her the ammunition for the charge if he drafts this independently.

IF he is to move forward with this, please have him write down and gather the evidence of her past issues with money now - they likely will not be available in a few years when the divorce takes place - and leave that documentation somewhere safe. Copies of bank statements, bounced check fees, copies of her credit reports, etc.

You don't even have to tell him it's for the eventual divorce, if he would shut down because of that - tell him he's gathering the evidence to present to the marriage counselor. And that he needs to leave a copy somewhere safe, in case her childish behavior would make her destroy it while he's at work.

If it were me - I'd separate out finances and pay every single bill as I was the only wage earner, then tell her to get a job. I would make sure the job was at a church or daycare or school or somewhere else she'd be less inclined to meet immature idiots at, and tell her that any money she makes is hers. I would make sure there were no joint accounts of any kind, and I would pull a copy of my credit reports on a regular basis to make sure she hadn't added my SSN to an account of her creation.

I would not write any of this down for her to see, and I most definitely wouldn't write up a contract that makes me look like a controlling bastage, even if I know and 10000 internet strangers know I am not. Because it will come back to bite him in the butt, big time.

impolite
had to sell the t-shirt I got from all the above to pay the bills

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296091 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 1:20 PM
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impolite:

Good advice. I'll forward this on to him.


Frydaze1

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Author: cybergal5184 Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296092 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 1:42 PM
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I actually agree with SP too for once!!

These people are going to either be divorced within 5 years or living in a box when they retire. It's up to them.

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296093 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 1:56 PM
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I actually agree with SP too for once!!

These people are going to either be divorced within 5 years or living in a box when they retire. It's up to them.


It's okay, cybergal, I think everyone agrees with that assessment. As far as agreeing with SP and the shock to your system, even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then. ;-)


Frydaze1

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Author: legalwordwarrior Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296094 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 2:22 PM
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Can anyone think of some minor things in addition to groceries that might be handed to her for management under this type of system?

Haven't read all the other responses, but here are a few that come to mind:

1) children's school expenses. This can be lunch money (we pay ours every two weeks), school pictures (once a semester), school supplies (varies depending on projects)

2) children's extracurricular activities (fees, equipment, etc)

3)entertainment expenses (cable bill, netflix rentals, etc)

4)are we defining groceries as only food? Or should there also be a category listed for laudry detergent, diswashing detergent, household cleaners, trash bags, etc?

LWW

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Author: joelcorley Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296096 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 2:59 PM
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SeattlePioneer,

You wrote, Heh, heh! Now that DOES sound like a clue! How did you get along with your mother in law and what kind of a person was she?

Most people wouldn't put up with my ex-mother-in-law. She was also a bit crazy and a bit angry at the world. She'd get drunk in the evenings (that changed when I threatened to keep the kids from her) and she'd tag people with slightly insulting nicknames. But she and I got along pretty well partly because I tolerated her antics and was obviously not out to take advantage of her in some way. I think she felt she got the short end of the deal when her daughter and I separated and eventually divorced.

- Joel

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Author: LurkyLurky Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296098 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 3:35 PM
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If it's not too late, here's my draft of a version of such an agreement.

I don't like the punitive ideas like "if she has an overdraft, then she's broken the agreement". Just make her responsible to pay the overdraft, and have it come out of her personal spending money. That's more like how the real world works, and how she will learn. I don't think it's fair to expect perfection from someone, as long as they are taking responsibility for the consequences of their mistakes.

Also, I think the language in this agreement is minimally demeaning to K--it sets down responsibilities for both B and K, and isn't just something setting up K for failure and giving B an excuse to get a divorce or to do whatever he may have in mind in the punishment department.

I also like this agreement because it gives K responsibility and control--I think that really being in charge of something, and having the freedom to handle it using whatever resources she can muster, could be a depression-lifter. Putting food on your family, if you don't mind the cute presidential quote, is an accomplishment to be proud of.


1) K will have access to a new checking account. B must deposit $x every 2 weeks into that account, and K will be the only person spending the money in that account. It is to be used for family groceries and K's personal use: K must provide the family 3 meals per day out of the $x and may use any unspent funds in any way she wants. K will be responsible for any overdraft fees incurred in that account. HELPFUL NOTE: it has been B's experience that it costs $g to pay for groceries for two weeks, so K will probably have around $(x-g) in funds for personal use every two weeks.

2) K is solely responsible for paying for the family groceries; if she runs out of funds in the new account and the family needs food, then she must purchase food using any other funds she may have, such as her own savings or from any income she may earn.

3) B must pay for mortgage, utilities, insurance, and other recurring bills.

4) B must provide K with separate, additional funds as needed for any other expenses, such as doctor's visits, prescriptions, clothing for the children, house maintenance, etc.; however, these expenses must be agreed upon by both B and K ONE WEEK IN ADVANCE of the spending, excepting in two cases: 1) emergency, or 2) if B agrees to pay for an expense due to occur in less than one week.

5) If K and B fulfill this agreement for Y months, and if K agrees to take on the added responsibility of being in charge of paying for <something>, then an additional $y will be added to the funds and K will also be responsible to pay for <something> out of it.

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296099 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 3:42 PM
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2) K is solely responsible for paying for the family groceries; if she runs out of funds in the new account and the family needs food, then she must purchase food using any other funds she may have, such as her own savings or from any income she may earn.

And if she has no money because she spent it all the family starves?

Nancy

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Author: LurkyLurky Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296101 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 4:03 PM
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And if she has no money because she spent it all the family starves?

Well... that would be the reality. Real world reality check. You screwed up and now you and your family are suffering. Now you have to fix it--nobody else is going to fix it for you. Time to step up. Mom, we are hungry!!

Reminds me of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle or Struwwelpeter: learn to modify your behavior by experiencing the consequences of your actions.

And I see your point that it would actually be her husband and children who would suffer, if she were to really screw up... I'm sure they could come up with something to keep the kids from suffering if it really came to that. You know, like feeding the kids on Dad's dime, making it clear to Mom that she screwed up big time, making sure that she accepts responsibility for getting into the mess (she shouldn't blame anybody or anything but herself), then giving her one more chance. Then if she didn't learn from that lesson, didn't step up... well, then other plans would have to be made.

But how are we to know that she will fail, if she is never given the chance to prove herself?

Oh, and I shouldn't have said "new checking acount" in the contract--what I meant was that it should be HER checking account, so she's totally responsible for it.

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296102 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 4:12 PM
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But how are we to know that she will fail, if she is never given the chance to prove herself?

The thing is, I got the impression that she's screwed up time after time. That's why the husband wants to put controls on her, and why he wants to explain what the consequences will be.

Kind of a carrot and/or stick approach.

Nancy

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Author: MetroChick Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296104 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 4:32 PM
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it's about helping K come to terms with her limitations in as objective a manner as possible

I don't understand the objective. If I were a parent raising a teenager (the example you gave) my objective wouldn't be to set them up for failure in an area they're weak in, my objective would be to try and work within their abilities to give them a chance at success. If the husbands main objective is to set the wife up to fail once again, why even go through the exercise? If he wants to give the marriage another shot, then you find ways to give both parties as much of what they want "you want more control over finances, I want couples and depression counseling and we're both going to make compromises within those 2 areas".

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Author: LurkyLurky Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296105 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 4:33 PM
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But how are we to know that she will fail, if she is never given the chance to prove herself?

The thing is, I got the impression that she's screwed up time after time. That's why the husband wants to put controls on her, and why he wants to explain what the consequences will be.
Kind of a carrot and/or stick approach.



We have only one side of this story. I think that people responding to this thread have known people who are financial train wrecks, and are quick to put K in that box. And maybe she is that bad... but apparently B used to be a financial mess, too, and he recently turned a new leaf. K says she has has changed, too. So let's see.

I hope they both find greater happiness, whatever happens (and I hope that what happens is that K is able to spend within her means).

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Author: MetroChick Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296106 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 4:34 PM
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The last time they did this, she managed to overdraw the account by $300 and blame him because she kept spending the money before things cleared. And she blamed him for not transferring the money fast enough the third time that she'd spent it on something it wasn't intended for.

Then why not one of those Debit-type cards parents can get for teenagers (college students) where there is no overdraft, once the account's at $0 there's no money until more money is put into the account?

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Author: madamhusker1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296109 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/24/2010 5:06 PM
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You're a good friend and a good person.



Will say some prayers your friend is able to find his way through these difficulties.



I can imagine the emotional costs of frustration and empathy you might be experiencing in support of your pal.




MH 1

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Author: Calabogie Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296113 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 9:28 AM
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It's doomed. I know that. I'm just going to help B come to terms with it. He's 90% there, and I'm not going to push him. It needs to be his decision, and he has to be able to live with himself afterward.

Frydaze1,

You're a good friend for helping and I'd just like to say that as bad as it looks now, it may not be a doomed venture. By helping him/them, you're not just providing fodder for him to document a case for her to get help. You're also providing him with a mirror to look at his life.

Without going into too much detail, I have been in a similar situation although I never considered divorce. My wife eventually got the help she needed and we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in September of last year. There are times when finding a solution seems impossible and the end of the tunnel seems to be completely blocked. What can happen at those times is a good and trusted friend lends an ear and a shoulder and while a person hears the things they want/need to hear, they also begin to realize that no problem is one-sided. I learned from my best friend (you remind me of him in your earnestness) that I had issues I had to deal with that would make life better and by dealing with those issues, I would be better able to help my wife deal with hers.

There are always ups and downs in any relationship but when a mental illness like depression or bipolar disorder is involved those ups and downs can become unbearable. What can often help those involved get through it is the love and compassion of their friends. We still have rough times but we're both much better equipped to deal with them now. We also both understand that after what my wife calls, "the madness", we share and talk and renew our commitment to each other.

Your friend may learn from your efforts that he might be part of the problem or he may be able to deal with it in ways he never knew about before. If he doesn't or can't, so be it. You did your best and he did his best. But if he CAN do something with your help, he's regained the love of his life and no matter how it turns out you've provided the only thing that makes any difference in life IMHO.

Calabogie (also emailed)

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Author: Lea77 Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296114 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 9:55 AM
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The result was that she got a job at a pizza place, made a lot of friends at her emotional maturity level, and started living their type of life.

Oh, now you’re talking about my SIL! (just got a job at a pizza place for spending money and has been posting on facebook that they’re all awesome. Then again, she’s only 21).

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Author: vickifool Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296117 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 11:58 AM
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Frydaze, do they live in California, a community-property state? That complicates matters.

Let her start with non-critical items, something that won't impact the children's nutrition or health. Groceries may be traditional, but I think it's too important to leave to an undisciplined immature "teenager."

My teenagers got an allowance and were responsible for their own clothing, entertainment, lunches and meals away from home, presents for friends, cosmetics. Non-critical things. I did't care what they wore and meals were provided at home, including lunch fixings if they wanted them. Basic grooming products were provided, they paid for the fancy stuff. After they could manage that, we moved on to school expenses (except tuition) and car expenses and groceries and next year, rent.

An ATM/debit card (without overdraft) and a register might be a good first step instead of a checking account. Pick the items she's responsible for, set a budget (together), and let her live within it.

I agree that "imposing" a contract won't work. I remember my drug-addled sister raving about the contract her lawyer-partner imposed on her. (She turned her life around more than 20 years ago and is a role model now, so there is hope. Nothing I did helped, though.)

Also, he should keep a log for his own information. When he sees what he's tried and what happened, he can better make decisions.

Vickifool

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296121 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 12:23 PM
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Frydaze, do they live in California, a community-property state? That complicates matters.

Yes, they do.


Let her start with non-critical items, something that won't impact the children's nutrition or health. Groceries may be traditional, but I think it's too important to leave to an undisciplined immature "teenager."

But they do need to be purchased, and she is home all day every day (except when she's out with her friends) while he works 50 to 80 hours a week. If necessary, he can make the grocery list for her. But they several hours a week of shopping should be something she can handle and is something actually useful to the household.


An ATM/debit card (without overdraft) and a register might be a good first step instead of a checking account. Pick the items she's responsible for, set a budget (together), and let her live within it.

Yes, I liked that debit/card idea also.


Also, he should keep a log for his own information. When he sees what he's tried and what happened, he can better make decisions.

Yes, I know that 6 months ago he was doing so. I don't know if he has continued, but I'll ask.


I agree that "imposing" a contract won't work. I remember my drug-addled sister raving about the contract her lawyer-partner imposed on her. (She turned her life around more than 20 years ago and is a role model now, so there is hope. Nothing I did helped, though.)

Everyone's objections have been noted. Along with all other suggestions from instant divorce before drawing another breath to enforced doctor's visits to just handling everything himself and ignoring her while she goes to hell in her own way to locking her up in an asylum.

My drug-addled mother didn't live long enough to turn her life around, so I'm particularly glad your sister figured it out in time. And I'm very aware (from my own marriage and divorce if nothing else) that none of us can change each other - all we can do it be there to provide guidance *if* it is wanted.

How much easier life would be if everyone would just do as I say... ;-)


Thank you,

Frydaze1

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Author: Swimmerdog Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296122 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 12:53 PM
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Just a quick word of advice...even if his wife is not getting counseling/support, he should be. Whether from his pastor or another type of therapist, he needs to be making sure he's getting some help, too.

And, random suggestion...can they do online grocery shopping? There might be some way to make that work.

Katy

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296123 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 12:59 PM
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Just a quick word of advice...even if his wife is not getting counseling/support, he should be. Whether from his pastor or another type of therapist, he needs to be making sure he's getting some help, too.

Yes, I completely agree and he was for a while, and may again through a combination of EAP and insurance.


And, random suggestion...can they do online grocery shopping? There might be some way to make that work.

A great idea, but unfortunately not available in their area. (That option was explored a year or so ago.)


Frydaze1

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Author: CairnDad Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296124 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 1:14 PM
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K says (quite correctly) that she has no way to prove to B that she has changed, since she has no access to anything.

Sure she can.

She can get a job and handle the money made from that job well.

The fact that her depression interferes with her getting a job is an indicator that she's not ready to handle money.

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Author: Rimacjam One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296127 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 2:34 PM
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Hi Fry - I am coming to this debate late, and am mostly a lurker anyway, but I had one idea. If the contract is the way your friend wishes to go, he might think about including provisions where she can earn the allowance portion of the biweekly deposit, and, potentially earn more. Others have noted that the contract seems controlling and she is being treated like a child. If he is depositing money like an allowance, with him determining the amount somewhat arbitrarily and her having no skin in the game, she will probably feel this way as well. Also, you mentioned his goals also include getting her to do more household chores, cooking etc.

So, perhaps they can agree on a value for household chores. Like, for the allowance amount he has already determined to pay, she will cook the meals. She can then earn more by doing the laundry, floors, bathrooms, kitchen etc. Each chore has a set value. As a stay at home mom myself, I often feel taken for granted and unappreciated for all the thousands of things I do to keep the house and home and children, especially when there is no monetary or societal value given to it. Yes, B works 50-80 hours a week, but he is rewarded monetarily for it. Perhaps if H and B could agree to the value of her contributions, she may be much more willing to make them. This takes care of the problem of her feeling treated like a child, and gives her some skin in the game. It may well lead to her respecting the value of her contributions (and him too) and being more careful about how she spends the money, because she earned it, and earned it doing the things a mother should do.

In my experience, reward works better than punishment, even for people who have repeatedly made bad choices in their lives. The household chores require time and work. Whoever does them. So, if she does them, she gets paid. If the kids do them, they should get paid. If B does them, he gets paid.

The reverse of this, which we do in our own home, is the family members are assigned certain chores and have a certain amount of time to do them. If they do not, someone else can do the chore and the person whose job it was must pay them the value of the chore. Works well for the kids.

Hope this helps. m

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Author: MetroChick Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296128 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 3:05 PM
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But they do need to be purchased, and she is home all day every day (except when she's out with her friends) while he works 50 to 80 hours a week. If necessary, he can make the grocery list for her. But they several hours a week of shopping should be something she can handle and is something actually useful to the household.

I think it's hard to say what *should* someone with mental illness be able to handle - especially if their mental illness is untreated. When one spouse is sick (physically or mentally) the other spouse is going to have to do a lot more of the work, and try and help the sick spouse get better, but also realize there's going to be set-backs.

So if the husband wants to get to the point where the wife can do all the grocery shopping, he might have to start out with going with her at first and then if both feel confident she can do it on her own, see how it goes but also assume there might be set-backs.

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296129 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 4:42 PM
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Okay folks, it's over.


B thanks everyone for their input (as do I). There was a lot of valuable information.

B particularly thanks Patzer. His post (which I forwarded in its entirely) struck home.

Be has decided:
1) Not to do any form of contract
2) Not to try to force K to be responsible
3) Not to try to fix anything
4) Not to give K any financial access of any kind
5) Not to get a divorce (I'll share some reasons below)
6) Not to give in to her demands, accusations, guilt trips, manipulation, etc.
7) Not to expect her to take care of anything at all
8) Not to let her drag him into fights about any of it
9) To continue to beg her parents to get involved and talk her into getting help for her depression

In other words, he has reached an equilibrium that *he* can deal with, and since she's the one doing the complaining he will simply save himself the stress of trying to satisfy her demands. If she wants money she can go get a job and earn some. Other than that, she can just cope. She's got food, clothes, shelter, etc.


Reasons not to divorce her:

1) She can't hurt him any more financially in their marriage. She won't find a bank to give her another checking account or credit card in the near future, she isn't on any of his accounts any more, she's not in charge of getting the bills paid, she basically can't do anything except whine about it.

2) If he *does* divorce her, it will be expensive. And she's certainly not going to go through the effort to do something that will put her in a worse situation than the one she already has. If she files, he won't argue it. But it would require more focus and motivation that she has shown herself capable of.

3) She has a pacemaker (congestive heart failure) that must be changed (replaced? battery replaced? something) every few years. If he divorces her, she won't have health insurance and with a preexisting condition will have trouble getting any. He won't do anything that he feels with actually kill her - and putting her in a position to go without heath insurance will do that. And her disease gives her a seriously limited lifespan anyway, even with the best of care. (Yes, I didn't mention her physical health problems to you before. It wasn't relevant to anything except the possibility of divorce which I told you he wasn't going to do. Beyond that it wasn't any of anyone's business here. Yes, the depression existed LONG before the heart problem was diagnosed.)

4) The kids are 14, 13, and 12. When they're out of the house, if K is still alive (with the heart problems it's questionable) he might take other steps. If universal health care goes through, he might take other steps. But right now he'll do what he can to maintain a household and be able to look himself in the mirror. And that means no divorce.


Thank you again, everyone, for your input.


Frydaze1

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Author: GuildWarsQueen Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296130 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 4:47 PM
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1) She can't hurt him any more financially in their marriage. She won't find a bank to give her another checking account or credit card in the near future, she isn't on any of his accounts any more, she's not in charge of getting the bills paid, she basically can't do anything except whine about it.


What if she starts selling or pawning stuff that he then has to replace?

There are still things she can do that'll cost him money. :(

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Author: Patzer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296131 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 4:59 PM
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I think B has arrived at a good decision. As with all decisions in a difficult situation like this, the hard part will be implementing it in a way that allows him to be at peace with himself.

In particular, the decision not to get a divorce is good because of this:

3) She has a pacemaker (congestive heart failure) that must be changed (replaced? battery replaced? something) every few years. If he divorces her, she won't have health insurance and with a preexisting condition will have trouble getting any. He won't do anything that he feels with actually kill her - and putting her in a position to go without heath insurance will do that.

We don't have to carry the analysis as far as K dying because of lack of health insurance. Since K has no income and could probably prove a disability, a divorce settlement would probably require B to provide funds to allow K to live. The cost of health care alone would become prohibitively expensive if she is no longer married to him. The money spent to keep K alive would be money that could not be used for anything else, such as saving for the kids' college or for B's retirement.

I'm glad that B has come to grips with what he needs to do to try to have a functioning household. I hope he is able to execute well enough that the kids have a fair chance of becoming functional adults, and that he can achieve emotional peace while doing what he needs to do.

Patzer

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296132 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 5:02 PM
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What if she starts selling or pawning stuff that he then has to replace?

There are still things she can do that'll cost him money. :(



She's not a speed freak, she's an unmotivated depressive.


Frydaze1

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296133 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 5:09 PM
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Thanks, Patzer. I will pass your words along to him.

And I hope you don't mind, but I suggested that if he wanted to talk to you he could come here and you'd be happy to discuss your experience with him. It was a bit of an assumption on my part, but I felt confident you'd be okay with it.

Thanks again, all.

Frydaze1

P.S. Everyone: I know I'm not in charge of discussions, and I'm sure this one will continue whether it's productive or not, but please understand that decisions are made and it's over. I won't be passing anything else along.

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Author: MetroChick Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296134 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 5:23 PM
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Since K has no income and could probably prove a disability, a divorce settlement would probably require B to provide funds to allow K to live. The cost of health care alone would become prohibitively expensive if she is no longer married to him.

Not if the pace maker and depression is enough to deam her disabled to work, in which case she could get SSDI and go on medicaid.

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Author: Windowseat Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296135 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/25/2010 5:25 PM
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She's not a speed freak, she's an unmotivated depressive.

If she developed enough energy and gumption to pawn things it would probably be an improvement.

Nancy

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Author: joelcorley Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296140 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/26/2010 12:49 AM
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Frydaze1,

You wrote, 3) She has a pacemaker (congestive heart failure) that must be changed (replaced? battery replaced? something) every few years. If he divorces her, she won't have health insurance and with a preexisting condition will have trouble getting any.

Actually I'd be more than a little surprised if Medicaid wouldn't cover this if they got divorced and she had no real income or health insurance.

- Joel

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Author: Frydaze1 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296142 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 2/26/2010 9:24 AM
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I was going by what he told me, though perhaps he was mistaken. I will mention it to him. But also I know he's concerned about whether or not she would get herself to the doctor (depression makes her miss a lot of appointments if he doesn't take her) so I'm not sure the medical coverage would make a difference in his decision that divorce=death for her.

Did I mention that he had his first heart attack at age 39, and I expect the stress from his marriage will leave 3 orphans?

I don't see a lot of happy endings here.


Frydaze1

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Author: llamalluv Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296170 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 3/1/2010 9:13 AM
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What? Why are you speechless?

Do you think it's okay for a teenage CHILD with untreated depression to make his or her own health decisions? I don't.

If that makes me a hard ass, then so be it.


However, if it were my husband? All I have is the power of my persuasion over him. Hopefully, that would be enough.

So far, it has barely been enough with my mother. Though, it's really hard to be persuasive from 1800 miles away. At least she did listen to me the last time I visited and got an adjustment to her meds.

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Author: Jeanwa Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296171 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 3/1/2010 9:42 AM
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What? Why are you speechless?

================

"Do you think it's okay for a teenage CHILD with untreated depression to make his or her own health decisions?"
================

You said nothing about getting the depression treated.

You said:

I'd have him/her forcibly admitted to a hospital.

That, to me, is a lot different than getting professional help. Psychiatric hospitals and wards, IMHO, should be a last resort for treatment.

I was speechless considering idea that forced hospital admission would be an answer.

I am assuming that the lady is not a danger to herself or others. If having little control over ones finances are grounds for admission to a psychiatric hospital we'd have to build more hospitals.

Jean

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Author: Mosquito7778 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296201 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 3/3/2010 12:04 PM
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It seems to me that being married involves more than refusing to get a divorce.

Seattle Pioneer



I really like that SP, great insight.

I know your not big on marriage, but I think that statement is exactly correct in so many ways. I will have to remember that one.

Thanks,
Mosquito

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Author: llamalluv Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 296241 of 308881
Subject: Re: An informal business contract Date: 3/8/2010 1:25 PM
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Well, your reaction certainly makes sense if that's really what you thought I was saying.

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