Husband in debt and blows money on beer

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2002
Husband in debt and blows money on beer
Mon, 11-26-2012 - 11:57pm


You guys are great. I posted in October and got very uplifting and helpful replies.

I am frustrated that my dh is drinking again on a regular basis. In my opinion he is an alcoholic. He says he is not - he says that he simply "Likes Beer" and lately he'll say "I feel a kidney stone coming on, and beer helps (urination)" (He does have a history of kidney stones, but kill your liver to fight off a kidney stone?)

He is not mean when he drinks, he just watches TV and then goes to bed. I know drinking too much is BAD, but I admit I got used to him drinking 4 to 5 beers per night the first several years of our marriage.  He has all these great reasons why 4-5 beers is no big deal, helps him relax, so I don't force the issue anymore, especially since it simply makes him sleepy and not mean/moody.

Problem:                We just had a financial crisis and he promised he would **NOT** buy beer (as it's an "extra") until he got a bit caught up financially.....meaning, he owes his ex wife $900 in back child support, she is furious  exc.   And, I paid 90% of our bills for nearly 3 months while he was only able to find a 16 hour a week job.  I'm not trying to sound's just that there's a history in our marriage of DH running out of money, leaving me to pay the rent, groceries, utilities.  (We both pay in to our bills since we both have kids from previous marriages)   There have been money tensions (ex. he'll ask me or his brother for money before he'll simply work overtime hours, exc - once he asked my mom for money) 

So this is not the time to spend money on extras -- with him owing his Ex $900 for child suppport, and with him slowly paying me back for months where I paid most bills.

The only bill in Dh's name is cable tv, and he will not give up his $140/month cable. I am angry because (a) he promised me he would not spend money on beer until he pays me back for some of our old bills    Now he says his new job is stressful, and on his way home tonight he said "I had a bad day at work and I'm going to comatose myself with beer" He bought and drank 7 beers. I said something and he said he doesn't want a lecture. Then I said "how can you spend money on beer when you owe me and (his ex) over $1,000?" He said "right now I don't give a f__ about anything, my job sucks"

He is starting to spend probably $40+ per week on beer....yet he refuses to cancel cable tv......and has gone back on his word to not spend $$ on beer until he's paid me back the hundreds he owes me.   It would be different if he'd been unemployed due to no fault of his own - he was unemploiyed because he only would job hunt a little at a time.

Imagine if you were his ex wife -- he owes her $900 in child support, and he has fancy cable tv and buys beer 5 nights per week, while paying her about $80 per week to slowly get caught up on child support. I am so grateful he found a full time job.  I am just disgusted with feeling that I support him as if he were my teenager and not my husband.    He promised he would not spend money on major extras while he owed me and his ex $$

If I were DH I would be embarressed to owe me hundreds of dollars for the 4th, 5th time in our marriage...and I would want to pay back the other person quickly. If I say "please don't spend $$ on beer until you pay me back for shared bills" he'll say "I feel like I'm getting a kidney stone, and my doc said beer increases urination"

If I push the issue, he's going to say "my new job is stressful and beer helps me relax".  He refuses to go to counseling for possible depression.  Sometimes I don't feel like being around him.   He's usually in a bad mood that his job "doesn't pay enough" (but I feel lucky he landed a job!) and he's in bad moods that he's "tired of being poor" and "has a black cloud hanging over his head"  Question: If you were owed $900, $1,000 and the person kept buying pricey cable and shelling out $$ for beer/extras, what would you do?  (thank you so much!)

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Tue, 11-27-2012 - 10:20am

Hi iSally--

I saw your name, and was trying to recall details of your situaiton, but the general gist is with me, anyhow :)

Basically he's using beer as a coping mechanism to "escape" from his troubles, rather than dealing with them.

Beer is a fairly inexpensive and easily obtainnable "drug" to do so with.

WHY does he buy beer when he said he wouldnt?  Because he feels he needs a way to cope with the negative feelings he's got going on, and HE DOESNT HAVE A BETTER WAY TO DO, he goes for an old/reiable standard that has worked for him in the past: beer.

RE: the kidney stone---yeah, WATER ---*free*, and from the tap, is the RECOMMENDED flush for kidney stones---IN FACT, ....(from the my SO's urologist himself)----the BEST way to PREVENT kidney stones is to always keep hydrated with LOTS OF WATER every day.  So, that is just an excuse (as you know).

And,....the "way to cope" re: unhappy day reason he gave you------at least he's being more honest about it.

He needs to find a BETTER way to cope with these feelings----but until HE recognizes this.....he's probably going to keep doing the same things..... (buy/drink beer).  

Physical activity kicks up *endorphins* that make you feel better----and is probably one of the healthiest things he could be doing----go out for a burst of activity to "work off" frustrations after work-----would he be up for something like that---you and he go for extensive bike ride after work, etc?

As to your questions re: 

Question: If you were owed $900, $1,000 and the person kept buying pricey cable and shelling out $$ for beer/extras, what would you do? 

Obviously, I'd be honked off, also,.......but, long as he's using the same "coping mechanism" for stress (beer), .........whenever you're honked off at him re: (above), .....he will "cope" by drinking more beer!

One other thought:

It's doubtful he can/will change this situation by simply saying what he "wont" do (eg, "wont by beer"), until/unless he decides what he WILL do , to replace what beer does for him in his life-----(eg, the coping mechanism)-----

he could replace it by:

exercise (takes discipline)

counseling (maybe anti depressants also?)

AA group


(other people use obsessive playing of video games, which I suppose is at least less expensive, if you dont keep buying new ones---but I dont see it as that helpful)

(other non-recommended, but common ways to cope with stress: smoking (probably more expensive) and over eating---expensive health wise)

(LOL---some people, women particularly, ---not sure why?----become obsessive house cleaners when stressed---hah----would be great if you could get him doing that---LOL......hah, if you could bottle it, you'd make a fortune as well-----a magical cure to take your couch potato-beer drinking husband and turn him into obsessive housecleaner!)

oh well....

BEST WISHES---I'm sure others will have good ideas for you (AA sounds the best---to help him figure things out, but I'm pretty sure YOU cant decide that for him---not sure if the Al Anon groups for spouses/family memebers might have something to offer you as helping you figure ways to deal with it all?)

Anyhow----It was nice to hear from you--Keep us Posted!

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-27-2012
Tue, 11-27-2012 - 10:37am

Woah.  Beer is no more effective than cranberry juice or even just plain water in helping to pass a kidney stone, and even then it's only supposed to be drank "in moderation," which is certainly not 4 or 5 beers per day.  4-5 beers per day is excessive, IMO.  Plus, it depends on what kind of stone he has because it's possible that beer will just make it worse.  Maybe he needs to visit a doctor and get a medical opinion.

If he needs 4 or 5 beers per night to relax, then I think there's a problem. 

In our house, alcohol is a luxury.  Fortunately, neither of us are much for drinking.  $40 per week on beer is a lot of money.  My BIL was having a similar issue with beer.  My sister finally put him on a beer budget.  It was probably more like $40 per month (which I still thought was ridiculous, but it worked for them).  She would help him find sales and they would buy beer for the month that he would have to make last.  I don't know if this would work for your husband because it sounds like he struggles with impulse control.  Of course, BIL was working so he was able to finance his habit.  The budget was to lessen the financial impact on the family.

Your question is "If you were owed $900, $1,000 and the person kept buying pricey cable and shelling out $$ for beer/extras, what would you do?"  I would take him to court and get a judgment.  If it was my husband who owed me the money, I'd stop financing anything for him beyond the basics.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-27-2012
Tue, 11-27-2012 - 10:39am
I saw Laurena mention AA. What about an al-anon meeting for you since it sounds like he's not willing to get help?
Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Tue, 11-27-2012 - 12:42pm

Hi Isally! 

I will get right to the point.  I don't know if your DH is an alcoholic or a heavy drinker (they are not the same), but I would suggest you get yourself to Alanon.  Get to as many as you possibly can.  Some meetings will be better than others, and will need to go to several to decide which ones better suite you. 

With that said, guessing there is a good chance he is an alcoholic, nothing can make him quit until he is ready.  Nothing. 

I have significant debt, but that does not keep me from smoking.  Trust me, $1,000 is not going to entice an alcoholic to quit drinking. 

One thing is clear, he is not a normal drinker.  A social, or normal drinker can take it or leave it; they can cut back when money is tight or affecting their health. 

I gotta run, so get yourself some help.  He has a problem, and it effects the entire family.  You need help, too. 


iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2002
Tue, 11-27-2012 - 1:15pm
Thank you Lauren! Great ideas, you made me feel so much better! Thanks for the great suggestions :-) :-) :-)
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-30-2002
Tue, 11-27-2012 - 1:17pm
Serenity, you are so good, you should write for Oprah -- thank you so much! I agree with you 100% -- you do have a talent and are the next Dr Phil, thanks!!!
Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Tue, 11-27-2012 - 5:10pm

Thank you for the kind words. 

I have been in recovery for 15 years, both of my xH's were alcoholics, my second xH was also a meth addict.  My SO has been in recovery 17 years. 

The 12 steps are the only thing that I have found that works for me.  It is not the only way, but it is a way that works.


iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Wed, 11-28-2012 - 8:09pm

I am struck by the fact that your DH is really immature.  He's acting like a baby saying that his job is stressful and that he has to drink beers to cope--hey, most people have stressful jobs.  It's also kind of nutty to say that he's "tired of being poor" on one breath and yet wasting money on non-essential items which is preventing him from saving money. 

But your question is what could you do (short of leaving him, I suppose).  Well first of all, you need to stop worrying that he owes his ex money.  Of course you are the more responsible person, so you can see that it's wrong for him not to pay child support because he should be supporting his child.  But this is his ex's issue--if she wants the money faster, she could take him to court & get a wage attachment.  As far as the money he owes you, would he agree to pay you a certain amt. each week if you would then not mention whatever he does with the rest of his money?  It would be best if he would agree to link up your accts. or do an automatic transfer so you are guaranteed the money.  Then at least if he wants to waste his money, the bills will be paid. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-20-2002
Wed, 11-28-2012 - 8:51pm

musiclover12 wrote:
<p>  As far as the money he owes you, would he agree to pay you a certain amt. each week if you would then not mention whatever he does with the rest of his money?  It would be best if he would agree to link up your accts. or do an automatic transfer so you are guaranteed the money.  Then at least if he wants to waste his money, the bills will be paid. </p>

I was thinking a similar thing----especially because it seems as though he DID only have 16 hour/week job---and that's when he built up all the current debt--------but now he (I think) has a more fulltime job----if iSally keeps complaining about him not paying ENOUGH and FAST ENOUGH....he's gonna start thinking, "WTH? Why bother? At least I'm earning more than before...." 

But I also understand iSally's frustration---------and this apparently ISNT the first time she's been put into this I like your idea re: some auto payment deal.....

Community Leader
Registered: 08-25-2006
Thu, 11-29-2012 - 11:50am

Music, you made two good points.  Drinking issue aside, the CS is his issue, and an automatic payment is a good idea.  Then don't bug him on how he spends the rest of his money.

Isally, what ever you do, don't let him have access to your account. 

Just to be clear, these ideas won't solve his problems.  They are only to help Isally find a little bit of sanity in the midst of distress.