I keep looking back at the last 23+ years to see how I could have predicted this, how I could have prevented it, or how I could have changed it, but I cannot see a good answer.
I married my husband in 1989. At the time I didn't realize what a control freak his father was. Maybe my first hint should have been when, a few weeks before the wedding, he told me that he didn't think we should get married.
At first we had no debt. Within a few years, though, my husb began to take out loans to support/enlarge his livestock business. My parents had always been very conservative with money and I was reluctant to go into debt, but husb and his father--a banker--insisted it was better to use "other people's money" to build a business. Trouble is, the loans never got completely paid off, just carried over and even increased year to year. Little by little things got worse and worse.
When I look back at the overdraft fees, late fees, interest being paid on loans...it makes me sick to think of the money lost for no reason other than not being accountable. I pointed these numbers out to husb and his dad...and they had no reaction. I cannot comprehend how this didn't get thru to them.
Gradually my husb involved me less and less in his business--although he always expected me to sign loan papers, bullying me into it several times--once in front of my parents when they were visiting--and I didn't want to cause a fuss so did it. He did NOT like to hear any of my suggestions about improving the business, things that weren't working, etc. I tried to be a partner by organizing his office (he's terrible at organization, keeping track of expenses, etc., etc., etc.) giving suggestions for how to do things better or differently, and so on. I truly wanted to be his partner, wanted him to be a success.
Within the last few years I realized that his true business partner was his father and both of them were willing to do anything to continue on the spiral of increasing debt without a real plan as to how to get out of it. They were willing to lie, manipulate, bully, etc. his mom and I, bankers, bank board members, friends, neighbors, businesses, to continue this.
And we allowed them to. I did not know WHAT to do...I was an at-home mom and didn't want to give that up. From their past patterns I knew that any money I brought into the household would be expected to go to household expenses--not that that was wrong, of course, but my doing that would only allow husb. and father-in-law to continue to throw away more and more and more money on the business. Anything I'd make would be a tiny drop in the bucket and would be taking me away from my kids. Husb was not reliable to do anything for or with anyone but himself.
I desperately wanted to change the situation but saw no way to. He'd cashed in his retirement, gotten me thrown off the bank board of directors (my being there brought in a small amount of cash and provided our insurance); we had no savings, crushing debt...but I was not willing to leave or divorce without a Biblical reason--I really wanted to make it work, somehow.
Well, God didn't see it that way. This summer I found out that he had a girlfriend, and he did not want to break it off with her or make any effort to make our marriage work. After much prayer and talking with my pastor I realized that he'd also abandoned me and our marriage long ago. I had Biblical reasons to leave, and, as my pastor pointed out, he needed to be held accountable for his behaviors. So I moved out.
Looking back I'm not sure where I went wrong...and what I could/should have done differently. Perhaps held him accountable years ago when "money" things started to go bad...refused to sign more loans (although even after I refused to sign any more his dad did). They were willing to go to any extent to continue to fund their "business", up to and including lying, manipulating, etc.
I don't know exactly what my advice is...I guess to realize that marriage should be a partnership and hold that person accountable, even when it's difficult.