Addiction is infinitely complex, and it can put a massive strain on a relationship.
Ideal, healthy relationships are built on a foundation of honesty. But the cravings and all-encompassing feeling of addiction can override the regular impulse to be honest with a partner.
Since he doesn't feel comfortable talking to people who know his wife IRL, he shared his quandary online in hopes of receiving some empathy and advice.
My wife stole our daughter's college money to fund her shopping addiction and wants me to take the blame
I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place and I don’t know what to do. The problem is, I can’t discuss this with anyone I’m close with for privacy reasons. I’ve been with my wife Andrea[48f] and my stepdaughter Cassie[17f] for 8 years now.
I love them both to death, but Cassie is a very brilliant young woman. Recognizing her potential, me and Andrea decided to put together a college fund for Cassie so she wouldn’t be crushed by debt.
Over the years, it has amounted to over $200,000. Cassie is aware of this and is banking on it since she’s trying to get into the Ivy League. To make a long story short, last week, I found out that almost $170,000 dollars of the money was missing.
I freaked the f**k out and asked Andrea if she knew anything about it. She teared up and said that she had been spending the money over the years to fund her spending habit. I was furious, but I had a moment of clarity.
I’ve browsed these subs enough to know that an affair was possible so I asked her if she was having one. She adamantly denied it and offered any proof I needed. Social media accounts, emails, her work phone, everything.
She offered to show me the receipts as well. There was nothing that popped out as suspicious, and the math from the receipts added up as well so I let it go. But we still had the major problem of the money being gone.
She described herself as a shopping addict, and the money from Cassie’s account was just too tempting not to use. She didn’t make excuses, but offered no solutions. As stated before, I was beyond furious.
She ruined Cassie’s chances at going to college debt free and changed the trajectory of her life. I had asked her to stay with her sister while I figured this out. Cassie was concerned about why she was leaving, we just said we needed space.
I asked Andrea to come back home yesterday and we had an extremely long discussion about how to handle this. She stopped me from talking and asked a favor of me. She asked if I could take the fall for her.
For context, her and Cassie don’t get along for a variety of reasons, and knowing how independent Cassie is, she will probably leave right after college if not during. Cassie and I get along very well and she comes to me for a lot of her issues.
Andrea fears this will permanently drive Cassie away and she doesn’t want to lose her. I told her that before we even talk about that, she needed to acknowledge her mistake and own it.
She needed to go to individual therapy, we needed couples counseling, she needed to find a shopaholic support group, and that I would be controlling the finances from now on. She said those terms were steep but fair.
I said she needed to tell Cassie what she did, apologize and hope for the best. She refused and said she could never lose Cassie. She said I could survive the mistake, but she couldn’t.
I told her that in order to even consider me taking the fall, she needs to agree to my terms. I don’t know what the hell to do. The last thing I want to do is lie to Cassie, but I don’t want Andrea and Cassie to split up forever.
And the worst part about this whole thing is that Cassie’s life is ruined either way. And I don’t know how to replenish the money other than maybe borrowing from my 401k. Reddit do you have any suggestions?
Divorce is always an option, but I love Andrea despite her mistakes, and me dating at age 52 is next to impossible.
Do not lie to Cassie. That's punishing her for her mother's sins. It WILL come out eventually. Her mother needs to be honest.
Do not take the blame, your wife admitting her mistake to her daughter is the only way your wife’s addiction is going to stop. If she can’t admit her wrongdoings to the person it hurts most, she can’t move on from her addiction.
Don’t take the fall that’s just enabling her addiction further, she needs a wake up call.
Tell her she can start making amends to Cassie by returning and/or reselling all the s**t she bought.
Your wife needs to take full and total accountability for her actions. If her relationship ends up permanently damaged then it should be. Addiction is addiction and just like a drug addict she blew her daughter's chance at a good start in life. Tell Cassie, don’t eat this and don’t participate in covering it up.
Do not lie to Cassie! Cassie needs to know what her college options are. An Ivy league may not be feasible anymore. Her mom needs to work on replacing the money, not you, you need to cut off financial access for your wife.
Wife can resell the items, get a second job, whatever. Do not enable her in any way, nor lie for her! Make her pay it back and she can take loans she needs to pay to replace it too! She doesn't want to lose her daughter, FFS she sure as hell didn't care about her daughter while she blew the money.
UPDATE: After everyone in here knocked some sense into me, I realized I can't lie to Cassie, I love her too much and she deserves the absolute truth, no matter how ugly and hard it is.
I will be talking to Andrea and telling her that we need to tell her the truth together as a condition of us staying together, or else I will initiate divorce proceedings and tell Cassie anyway. Also, as someone suggested, I don't need her trying to flip the script on me so I'll record our interactions going forward. Thanks.
SECOND UPDATE: I want to thank everyone here for really opening my eyes yesterday. You're all right, I need to put Cassie first, and like I said, I'll be telling the absolute truth, even if she gets mad at me and disowns me at least I'll know I did the right thing.
In addition, I'm going to pay for her college myself. I can pull money from a couple of places such as my retirement and inheritance so it'll be okay. If I have to live a little frugally during retirement and work a few extra years then so be it, Cassie is worth it.
I honestly doubt her mother is going to sell her stuff so that's why I'm taking this route. As for Andrea, I've been criticized for wanting to let Andrea off the hook so to speak, but it's easy to say when really deep feelings aren't involved.
That being said, I don't think I can stay with her, what she did is horrendous and she ruined our daughter's future for her addiction. We had a long discussion late last night and I threatened divorce unless she told Cassie the truth.
She begged me not to do this, but I put my foot down, and eventually, she agreed, but only if I agreed not to divorce and I helped to repair their relationship. I likely won't be doing either, she made her bed so she can sleep in it. So if I have to update, I'll probably just make a whole new post, thanks a lot guys.
I want to start this by thanking everyone who replied to me in the original post. You all showed me tough love and I appreciate that. I even appreciate those who were calling me a doormat, because like I said in the previous post, it woke me up. I won’t be staying with Andrea.
She’s lied and manipulated me and Cassie for far too long for me to stay with her. The fact that she stole from me, Cassie and Cassie’s grandparents makes this as close to unforgivable as it gets. The most wronged party here is Cassie, she has an amazing future ahead of her and I refuse to let her future go to waste because my wife made such selfish choices.
Also, I’d like to take the time to answer some common questions, some of which I answered in the original post but I’ll post again here so everyone can see it. Over half the money in the account came from Cassie’s grandparents, aka Andrea’s parents, Cassie’s bio dad’s parents, and my parents whom she also calls grandparents.
This money came in the beginning, which is why I knew how much was supposed to be in there. I never handled the account. Although I claim Cassie as my daughter, she is only my stepdaughter officially. As such, her mother handles all financial matters related to her. I simply gave her money to put in the account, and she showed me(probably doctored) statements.
My belief is that she pocketed the cash whenever I gave her money. I did notice all the stuff she was buying. She claimed that they were either on sale or because she got a work bonus. She makes a very good living, and I thought was responsible with money so I said alright.
I did ask her why she needed so many Christian Louboutin shoes, she shrugged it off. And although people can’t wrap their heads around it, it’s VERY easy to spend $170,000. A large chunk of the money went to buy a Mercedes, which I thought was a lease. She had a 7-year-old Lexus that according to her, her friends were “laughing at.”
Keeping up appearances for her wealthy friends is very important to her. Cassie and Andrea do not get along for a variety of reasons. Allegedly Cassie takes a lot after her deceased father and Andrea can’t relate to her at all, or maybe doesn’t try hard enough. Cassie much prefers me to talk to.
We have parent/child boundaries, but Cassie considers me one of her best friends(her words, not mine). I realized taking the fall was her manipulating me, plus it would have opened me up to a crap ton of consequences that I don’t need to deal with. Plus honesty is always the best policy. I wasn’t thinking properly in my last post, and was afraid to be alone and single.
I guess I have some issues being alone that I need to address. Plus I really do love Andrea, we connect in a very deep way, but I’m still divorcing her. Oddly enough a comment that senior homes have chlamydia outbreaks for me laughing and made me realize that I could date again at this age. Plus you guys gave me some very nice compliments, so thank you for those.
After my final update on the original post, I talked to Andrea deep into the night. She went back and forth with me on admitting to Cassie what she did.
She said that she or even both of us could get loans and take care of the money then. I said she had a problem and she needed to make amends, which was a talking point from here. When I threatened her with divorce she agreed to tell her so long as I don’t divorce her, I guess she’s afraid of losing everything. That afternoon we sat Cassie down and told her the facts.
She thought we were just kidding at first, but when she realized weren’t kidding she got extremely upset. I’ll spare you the details, but she and Andrea got into an extremely loud and vicious shouting match. Cassie called her some truly awful names and Andrea, while she didn’t curse at her, tried to defend herself but started getting angry at the names she was being called.
They were so loud, the neighbors called the police, I had to awkwardly explain the situation to them while hoping they didn’t think I was some kind of wife-beater. Cassie told Andrea that she never wanted to speak to her again, and that she never wanted a dime of her money and stormed off.
I asked Andrea at this point to stay with her sister indefinitely while we give Cassie and me some space. She didn’t want to go, she fought me to stay, but I told her me and Cassie needed time apart from her. So she packed her stuff and went to her sister’s house. As for Cassie, she went to her room and locked the door.
She let me in after I told her that her mother had left. She cried in my arms and expressed that her future was now ruined. I told her it wasn’t, that I would cover her college from my retirement, and that I would make it right. She doesn’t exactly know what a 401k is yet, but she told me that she doesn’t want me to work until I’m 90 like the people at Walmart just because of her.
I just told her she’s worth it, and that you do stupid things for the people you love. She said that she would start looking for scholarships and maybe other schools where she could get a full ride since she has excellent grades and extracurriculars. I then admitted Andrea wanted me to take the fall for her and that I had considered it, but I came to my senses.
She got upset with me and told me that would have been the stupidest thing I could have done. She said she wouldn’t have believed I did it anyway, and it only would have made her more upset at her mother. She told me that she doesn’t blame me and that she’s not mad at me for the money being gone, but she is mad that I’d want to cover for her mother.
I apologized for that. We talked and cuddled for while longer before calling it a night. The next morning I get a call from Andrea’s parents asking if the story was true. Cassie had told them the story and they were calling to confirm, I had the voice recordings and bank statement to prove it.
They were livid, but begged me not to leave Andrea for this, an to try and help her through her addiction. I told them I wasn’t sure about that yet and hung up. A while later my parents called and asked me about it, I confirmed. They were probably more mad than Cassie was all things considered, they’re threatening to press charges.
I told them to calm down and that I would handle it. Cassie is doing okay, she’s still a little shell-shocked, but she seems to be taking it as well as one could hope for. I made her pancakes this morning and that seemed to brighten her mood a bit.
I asked her if she wants to do therapy, she said she’ll think about it. I will be doing therapy for myself. Andrea has been calling to talk, but I’m just letting it ring, so she’s leaving voicemail. She’s offering anything to make it right: money, sex, favors, you name it. But it’s not going to work.
I feel horrible for Cassie, and especially so close to Christmas. I think in going to get her Billie Eilish tickets since that’s her god. It won’t make up for it at all, but it could go a long way to helping her feel better. So that’s it for now, I guess I’ll update if anything further happens, but I think this is pretty much it. Thanks all, you’ve been a tremendous help.
Edit: I forgot to add, I watch my credit like a hawk so there was nothing suspicious there, but it's going to locked. I'll be going to my accountant next week to have Andrea removed from everything meaningful.
Life insurance, will, bank accounts, etc. And I'll be adding Cassie. I've started changing passwords and the like so Andrea doesn't have access. I'm stringing Andrea along with non-divorce until my accounts are secure. Also from what I can tell, Cassie's credit is okay. But I'll be doing a deep scan and locking that as well.
Edit 2: I can't believe I have to say this, but there's a few people saying it's "creepy" that I'm cuddling with my daughter. If sitting together with her crying on my shoulder and us talking is considered creepy then sure, I'm creepy. Leave it to the internet to make things weird I guess. And no I don't think I'm some hero. I'm just trying to do the right thing.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, a lot has happened and truth be told I haven’t had the time to post an update here, but I finally have a quiet moment to give you an update. First, I want to thank everyone here for helping me at such a pivotal time in my life. After re-reading my original threads, I can’t believe how indecisive and weak I came off in them.
The prospect of my marriage ending and dying alone really kind of shook me to my core, and thus made me come off that way. I started therapy and it made me realize that being single wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to me, in fact, I’ve turned my loneliness into solitude and have taken the time to work on myself.
And if that last sentence didn’t tip you off, then let me be the first to tell you that I’m single now. Me and Andrea are legally separated and currently in divorce mediation. Unfortunately, Andrea is still very much in denial and is trying everything she can to get me back, including delaying the divorce as much as possible so that we can work on our marriage.
She claims that she’s begun seeing a therapist who’s helped her see the problem she has and has gotten her on the path to recovery. I don’t know if I buy it, but I told her it’s a good thing if it’s true.
She has also apologized to my parents, hers, and her late husband’s parents for what she’s done and offered to pay back the money, they’ve all forgiven her, but are keeping her at an arms length. She’s been desperate to reconnect with Cassie, but Cassie has kept her word and decided to never speak to her mother again, or at least until she’s ready to.
Andrea's wealthy friends she was so desperate to impress have been around our house offering their help. They may be nosy busybodies, but they were very nice to me and Cassie in the immediate aftermath of Andrea’s betrayal. They offered everything from a shoulder to cry on, to baked goods to spa dates.
I only ever really took them up on the baked goods because I will never turn down homemade lemon bars and oatmeal raisin cookies. Cassie did take them up on spa dates, so there’s that. One woman in particular, Susan has been around more often than the others. While I feel like the other friends were prying for information, she seemed more genuine and just there to help me and Cassie heal.
She cooked meals for us, helped around the house, and just spent a lot of quality time with me in particular. We didn’t ask, want, or need her to do any of this for us, but she did it out of the kindness of her heart and I really appreciate it. We’ve gotten a lot closer in such a short time, and I truly consider her a friend.
It’s actually amazing I could get along with someone who’s so much younger than me (14 years) usually I have a hard time connecting with younger people, even if they’re adults. But now we get to the most important part of this update: Cassie. As a cheer-up Christmas gift I took her and one of her friends to Montreal last month to see her favorite artist Billie Eilish at this festival.
She loved it, and Montreal is such a beautiful city to visit. All in all, she took the loss of her college fund pretty well. Cassie is a very hard-working person, and she put her nose to the grindstone trying to find a scholarship. Unfortunately, she missed the cutoff for most of the scholarships she could have qualified for, but the school of her choice is giving her a very generous financial aid package.
In addition, she qualified for some local grants so she got her entire first year covered. And yes, Cassie did thankfully get into her school of choice, in fact, she had many acceptance letters and full-ride offers but she had her heart set on her school of choice.
In fact, I dropped her off last week I’m extremely proud of her and I know she’ll do well. I’m an empty-nester now all alone in this big house, and the silence is deafening, but Susan has been around to keep me company and I’ve taken up bike riding as a hobby. So all in all, things are okay, not great, but certainly better than before.
And with that, I think I can put this saga to bed, the divorce will hopefully be finalized in the next few months and I can finally move on with my life. But the most important thing is that Cassie is fulfilling her dreams and potential and I couldn’t be happier about that.