Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Husband flips out over wife's unplanned clothing expense
Q: Wife had an important meeting. That morning, she realized she had no business suit that fit her. (She recently went back to work after second baby.) She proceeded to spend $500 on two suits right before the meeting.
Husband flipped out. Demanded that Wife plan her clothing purchases in the future. Said Wife couldn't possibly like the suits she bought.
Wife is upset that Husband flipped out and isn't supportive. Husband thinks she should get over it because the suddenness of the purchase stunned him, and his feelings matter in this circumstance.
Wife makes a great income at a firm where proper business attire is taken seriously. Family can afford the purchase. It's the perceived lack of foresight that bothers Husband. What are your words of wisdom?
Carolyn: I can't think of anything that justifies the husband's flipping out. If there were money stresses, okay, but without them, I've got nutt'n. For an emergency-shopping high-income office worker in a major city, $250 a suit is quite frugal.
If your account is accurate, then his next move is to apologize profusely for the mind-loss and either (a) express mystification at cause of outburst, or (b) express true underlying cause of outburst — stress at work, hidden gambling debts, child care anxieties, general uptightness, whatever.
Anonymous: Is it possible this was the 1,000th time Wife has dealt with an "emergency" that need not have been an emergency? Maybe Wife has been chronically flaky, and this was just the last straw. This doesn't excuse Husband's flip-out, much less his demand that she plan her clothing purchases better, but it might explain it.
Carolyn: Chronic flakiness is certainly a viable possibility — but I would file it under "true underlying cause of outburst." Thanks.
Anonymous 2: Here's a husband's perspective: Perhaps he manages the family's finances and monthly budget. If so, an unexpected, large expense can actually be a problem, even if you have money. We keep hardly any money in our checking accounts — just enough to pay our monthly bills and such. The rest is kept in savings and money-market accounts. If my wife were to just go off and write a large check, we could easily end up overdrawn. It has happened more than once.
I've repeatedly told my wife to LET ME KNOW if she needs to write a large check, so that I can be sure we cover it. But very often she doesn't do that, which has caused more than one argument. I can easily imagine being the husband in today's post where the 1,500th time it happened he just lost it out of frustration.
And for what it's worth — I've encouraged my wife to take a more active role in our finances, but she always comes back to wanting me to do it.
Carolyn: Again, I would file this under "true underlying cause of outburst" — and I'd put a copy in "anachronisms." Writing a check!
Plus, Husband was "stunned," not overdrawn.
We can't seem to get around this: The only outburst-worthy problems are chronic ones, which are solved by transparency, not by punitive knee-jerk reactions.