Wife fills void by going shopping

A reader is concerned by his wife’s shopping sprees in the wake of their sons leaving the family home.


I have been married for 26 years. Shortly after our two sons moved out last year my wife began shopping – big time. She maintains she can buy whatever she wants because we no longer have to provide for the boys.

She used to be a sensible person but not now. We argue all the time.

I am not on big money and cannot continue like this. We have joint credit cards with a $3000 limit. Can I cancel her card without her permission? After all, I am the one who has to pay the bills.


The panel agrees your wife is grieving the loss of her sons and is filling the hole by spending money. Many parents experience “empty nest syndrome” when their children move out of home. It is most common among women as they are more likely to have had the role of primary carer.

Unlike the grief experienced when (for example) a loved one dies, the grief often goes unrecognised, because an adult child moving out of home is seen as a normal, healthy event. Your wife will benefit from counselling and your attendance will ensure she is supported during this difficult period.

You cannot cancel your wife’s credit card without her consent. However, seeing a financial counsellor which is free and confidential will assist in keeping your finances on track. Phone Relationships Australia (SA) 8223 4566, UnitingCare Wesley Bowden 8245 7100 or the financial counselling free telephone helpline on 1800 007 007.

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Relationships Australia (SA) appoints panels of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it.