How to Keep Your Spouse's Shopaholic Tendencies from Ruining Your Relationship

Does your spouse shop compulsively, buying things he or she doesn't really need and running up exorbitant bills? It's not uncommon for couples to disagree about the way money is spent, and these issues can become even more pronounced if one spouse has shopaholic tendencies. Since arguments about money are the top predictor of divorce, it is important that you and your spouse take a logical, unified approach to dealing with those shopaholic tendencies before financial arguments and struggles cause you to want to split. Here are some tips that will help you work together and put a stop to the excessive spending—without also putting a stop to your marriage.

Work with a psychological counselor.

Shopping addiction is a real psychological problem. When your spouse says that he or she "cannot help it," this could probably be the truth. Shopaholics use shopping to soothe emotional distress, much like alcoholics use alcohol to soothe their negative emotions. When someone who is addicted to shopping makes a purchase, their brain releases dopamine. Over time, they become addicted to the release of this hormone, and they seek it out again and again.

Since shopping addiction is a real psychological problem, it needs to be treated by an experienced counselor. Such a counselor will help your spouse identify why he or she shops excessively and will provide strategies to help him or her resist this behavior. The counselor will likely want to have sessions with both you and your shopaholic spouse so that the way the two of you communicate about the shopping can be addressed. If an anxiety disorder or clinical depression are at the heart of the problem, medications may help your spouse get back to a healthier mental state. Contact a representative from an establishment like Park Center Inc to learn more.

Work on being more open about finances in general.

One of the reasons why shopping addiction can be so damaging to a relationship is that the addict tends to lie about the spending. The non-shopaholic spouse then finds out about the lies and feels used and betrayed. When you speak with your spouse, you have to approach the subject of lying about purchases delicately. If you are too accusing, this might just make him or her feel guilty and encourage more lying in the future.

A good way to approach the subject is simply to suggest that both of you be more open about your finances. Get into the habit of discussing purchases you're going to make before you make them. Then, your spouse will feel more comfortable doing the same. Consider having a weekly meeting where you discuss bills, budgets, and the like. Approach honesty surrounding finances as something the two of you need to work on together, rather than as a problem your spouse needs to attack on his or her own.

Meet with a financial advisor.

While the emotional aspect of the shopping addiction is surely important to address, you can't ignore the financial aspect of the problem, either. Make an appointment with a financial adviser in your area. Both of you should go together, and the goal should be to develop a plan for paying off any debt that has been accumulated due to the shopping addiction or for other reasons. Be honest with the adviser regarding your finances and goals so that you are sure the advice you receive is applicable and useful. Remember that financial advisers are used to meeting with people in financial turmoil—there's no reason to be embarrassed about your situation.

Having a plan to pay off debt and improve your financial standing will serve two purposes. First, it will give the shopaholic spouse a reason to stop shopping—he or she will need to do so in order to attain your newly set financial goals. Second, it will ensure that you can put the shopaholic days behind you as quickly as possible. If you're paying off the credit card bills from the shopaholic days for 15 years, those issues are always going to be in the back of your mind and may continue to be a wedge in your relationship. If you have a plan to pay them off as quickly as possible, then you can put the matter behind you.

Dealing with a spouse who compulsively spends money can be frustrating and terrifying. However, if you approach the problem together, work with a counselor and financial adviser, and do your best to be honest about finances, you can move past this.