I just had a horrible-the worst yet-screaming argument with my husband; please help.


I am desperate for help to deal with this. I just had a horrible-the worst yet-screaming argument with my husband about our income and the bills we pay every month. He does not even believe that the home we have lived in for 2-1/2 years is his home, or why we are paying the bills we pay. He does not understand that our money goes directly to our joint bank account. He wants "his money" to spend as he likes, and for me to pay "my" bills with my money. I gave him a copy of our list of bills that are paid automatically out of our joint account, but he is far from satisfied. I realize sadly that I should have been able to handle his inability to understand any of this, and that he is really just struggling to regain some sense of control. I just want to sob, to scream, to run away, to never look back. I know how wrong this is, and I know that this is just another awful part of this dreadful illness, but I just want to die. I go to a support group, I read these posts, I try so hard to listen and use the tools that I hear and read about, and even try to give kind advice to some of you, but this situation is something I cannot seem to deal with. Please please help me.

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My dad went through this, too. Last year. His retirement did away with retirement checks sent to him. Everything was to be electronically deposited. Dad went to the bank to set this up over 10 years ago. Last year, he forgot about all this. He did early retirement to take care of just diagnosed mom of dementia over 20 years ago. Last year, he forgot that he retired. Or cannot walk. He would tell me that he’s not going to work tomorrow. Or in the morning before I left to work, he would solemnly tell me that he’s not going to work, okay?

The worst was where’s his paycheck. Why hasn’t he received his paycheck. Someone is stealing his paycheck. Like you, I tried to explain about electronic deposit. I can tell from his eyes that he didn’t understand. I pulled out his bank statements and showed it to him. To show that no one is stealing his money. Look, you have money. It’s just in the bank. He looked at it blankly. ..After that, he kept accusing that the bank was stealing his money.

What I did was put aside $80.00 in small bills to look like a lot of money ($20, several $10, $5 and $1 bills). I had put it in an envelope and told him that’s his money to spend. I also gave him some cash, folded it in halves and tucked it between his wrist and the watch he was wearing. He would sometimes take his cash out and count it. Then he would put it back on his wrist.  This somewhat satisfied him.
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The only delusion that would be harder to deal with than this one, I think, is the "you are unfaithful" one. I'm so glad my husband Coy didn't have that one!

The "stealing from me" one was alive and well at our house for a while. I would say, "I know that I haven't done anything deliberately, but I might have made a mistake. Will you look over these statements from the last two months and see if you can see where the problem is?" He'd get bored with that quickly. We never had screaming matches over this. He did accuse me to neighbors and he tried more than once to report me to the sheriff but he couldn't manage to make calls successfully. This ugly paranoia period only lasted a few months for us, and I think those were the hardest months of my 10 years of caregiving. What makes you think you should be able to handle this? Do your best. Keep trying. Try some things from your support group or from here. But for heaven's sakes don't get down on yourself about it. Dementia doesn't come with a handbook for caregivers!

I never argued that I wasn't stealing. I talked about "mistakes" and asked how we could fix things. Later, when the paranoia was gone and the issues were dignity and independence, I talked to him about how terrible it would be if he lost his wallet and his identity were stolen. Our whole joint account could be at risk. He went with me to the bank and we removed his name from our account and opened a small account just for him. He got his own paper statement each month, and could write checks for his haircut or a treat. But this was after he stopped accusing me of stealing his money. That went away on its own, thank heavens!

I think I'd go along as much as possible and try not to argue about money. He doesn't think this is your real house? "We are living here until our house repairs are done, and we do have to pay rent for that." "Boy, I sure wish we didn't have to pay for electricity too! but we couldn't watch sports on tv without electricity."

Perhaps (maybe) you could say, "I think you are right. All the bills should come out of my account, and you should have your own for spending. You are retired from bill-paying now. I'll make an appointment for us to go into the bank next week." Time is on your side ... he most likely is going to get through this particular obsession and go on to something else. Stalling is not a bad tactic.

Coy generally reacted more favorably to being reminded that he was "retired" than any implication that he could no longer do something.

Do your best. Don't expect perfection from yourself! Learn and grow.
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She1934, oh my gosh that can be so very difficult. I know this is hard to do, but agree with Hubby. Tell him "yes, you are right". It will make him feel better.... and make you feel better knowing you squashed a fight that would keep on giving.

I agree with cwillie above, keep the bills and bank statements away from Hubby. I realize that may not be easy, especially if Hubby is at the stage where he follows you all over the house.
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It sounds as though he is past the point where he can be reasoned with about finances, so explanations and spreadsheets are just going to cause arguments that get you nowhere - even if you get him to agree he is likely to forget in few days. I would keep the bills and income away from him as much as possible - out of sight out of mind - and set him up with his own money to spend as he chooses. Maybe try a totally separate bank account to which you can make monthly deposits of "his" money, a charge card with a low credit limit, re-loadable debit or gift cards, a reasonable amount of cash to keep in his wallet. How you manage this depends on how reasonable (or not) his spending would be and how savvy he still is about your current finances.
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