Would you forgive your partner if they squandered your retirement?

I get a lot of letters from people trying to figure out their next steps a spouse has made bad financial decisions. Here’s a recent example: The letter writer’s husband lost $300K on penny stock investments — about 80% of their retirement. To make matters worse, this is the third time he’s lost money on penny stocks.

What would you do if you were in the letter writer’s position? I don’t think I’d want to stay married if I were in her shoes. It’s not just about the financial loss (though $300K is huge), but also about the fact that he’s not begging for forgiveness. He gets angry at her for asking about it and even refuses to sell the shares he has left. Two very big red flags.

But this is a really tough situation because he’s the main breadwinner, so I getting divorced and starting afresh would be challenging. Would you try to make this work if you were the letter writer?

It would make a big difference to me if he had confessed to losing money and were actively working to make their retirement accounts whole again. But it sounds like she made this awful discovery on her own. Plus, it doesn’t sound like she has any reason to believe this won’t happen again.

What do you think? Could you forgive this financial betrayal?

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That’s a very hard question wow I guess being with out a retirement isn’t going to change the love I have for my spouse but that’s just my opinion

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I’d have a difficult time forgiving someone who lost our retirement funds gambling (which is what penny stocks can be), therefore we keep our funds seperate under this roof. We have never had any money issues between us. It just works for us.


It would be time for divorce. Legal separation of assets to protect my portion of what is remaining. I wouldn’t want to have my retirement depleted and have to work part time at 70, 75 or 80 to just get by.

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This is an easy question to answer at least for me. I was in a marriage with a partner who I didn’t realize had issues with being responsible for the finances that make a household of equal partners work. He seemed responsible enough at first, until children entered into the picture and began to have periods of depression as he called it. It didn’t hit me, until we filed taxes and I found out that he had been underpaying the amount he should pay to have more money upfront and because we filed a joint form, I lost my refund of the extra taxes that I paid from my income earnings. That same year, he had a fit of anger and badly cut himself by picking up a knife by the blade instead of the handle and told the hospital another story which resulted in the medical bills being not paid by our insurance ( from my job since he had no insurance at his job). That made me decide on bankruptcy and to file for divorce after the bankruptcy. I figured out a way to support myself and my children financially without him and left him on his own. He went on to find another woman who took him on and married him after the divorce went through. I spent 15 years working 2 jobs and will never allow another person to ruin me financially.
I am in retirement now with less money than I wanted but I did earn enough years working for my 2 tiny pensions and my own Social Security benefits which I found out when I retired were substantially more than whatever my ex husband’s benefits were. And since he remarried before he turned 60, he couldn’t apply for spousal benefits on my Social Security benefits.
Forgive him, no—I am waiting for the news for when he dies, to have the pleasure of walking in to the funeral home wherever his present wife has it and then applying for survival benefit owed all spouses.


Wow! What a charged question, many factors come into play here…emotions, age, backgrounds, earning power, responsibility…to name a few.

There are cold hard facts here-the money is gone. Personally I would hold him responsible for gaining the money back, he is obligated to repay, period, whether or not we were to stay together. It also might come down to an old well established saying…“fool me once, shame on you, fool my twice, shame on me”. I have just gone through a very similar situation and there will not be a 3rd time. It seriously has effected our marriage, the trust issue has gone by the wayside and is seen daily. I am just waiting for the next money issue to arise, and no doubt it will.
Right now, my husband is ill and I can’t ignore it and just walk away and file for divorce. I don’t know when recovery will be, but there is quiet resentment and general financial mistrust.
What I am saying in so many words is the solution has not yet presented itself. I will know when it has.
Sometimes you have to step back and reason this out, not relying on other’s opinions to make up your mind. It is up to you and you alone.


wow @redcatcec, I’m truly sorry to hear all that. The finances, the betrayal, the illness- all of it.

Maybe it wouldn’t change the love, but it would absolutely change my trust. That’s a “get out” as quickly and as safely (financially) as I could.

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