From Overspending to Mixed Messages

article top

“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Overspending, What’s the Price of Love?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

My husband and I work hard to support our family of two kids. So I don’t understand why he doesn’t stick to our budget. He comes home with presents that we don’t need, like the latest PC when the one we have works fine, or buying pets for the kids, when we already have a dog and a cat. I worry that he is extending himself beyond our financial means. He says not to worry, he’ll pay off the credit cards. That doesn’t reassure me and I’m worried we’re headed for bankruptcy if he keeps this up.


Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Overspending:

When people buy gifts excessively and even inappropriately, this can sometimes be due to the gift-giver experiencing a lack of self-worth, resulting in some type of effort to buy attention and praise.

One way that some families have handled this, is for the family to have a round table discussion and share with gift giver (be it mother, father or older sibling, for example) how much that person is loved and hug them more often, telling them how important they are to the family and they don’t have to buy gifts to prove how much they love the family. Then the gift-giver can be reassured that the family knows they are loved, so there is no need to tax the budget by buying gifts to prove their love.

”Mixed Messages, What’s the Truth?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

A few weeks ago I went on a blind date. I thought it was great and my date said he enjoyed it and would call me in a few days. We tentatively agreed on a movie to see this past weekend. He never called. I don’t understand the mixed message I got from him.


Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Disappointed:

The scenario you describe is all too common. There are many reasons why people don’t follow through on their word, such as calling for a second date. Some have no intentions of following up; others actually really like their first date, but emotionally they may have a problem with commitment. This could cause them to not follow-up, or they may call, but not in the timeframe promised.

If I were in your shoes, a few moments of disappointment is all I’d spend on this one, realizing that some people need a way out by expressing a lot of rhetoric. I’d consider the date a pleasant experience and get on with my life.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

”’Email your questions to More information on Dr. Gelb’s services and related resources available at”’