Financial Infidelilty: Crystine, Tom

Money Secrets and Lies

"I've been hiding money from my husband. I've been lying to him about it," Crystine says. "I have to lie to my husband because he's like a dictator."

"Crystine's lying makes me feel betrayed and deceived," says Tom, Crystine's husband of 12 years.

"He only gives me enough money for what he thinks I need," Crystine says. "My husband still thinks you can go to a store and buy a loaf of bread for 25 cents. I know what I'm doing is wrong, but I still do it anyway because I want to do what I want to do."

"I have to be very strict with Crystine about money because if I give her a little bit of rope, she'll take a mile," Tom says. "I do feel like I'm dealing with a 6-year-old when it comes to my wife."

"When he sits me down and scolds me like a child about spending money, it pisses me off and makes me want to go out and spend more money," she says.

"When I catch Crys in a lie, she kind of gives you that glazed over look when you actually start talking numbers," Tom says. "She draws one paycheck a month. I don't get the stub, and I get a slew of excuses about where the stub has gone or where the money's gone. I am so absolutely tired and frustrated that if she doesn't want to change, I'm going to walk away from it all."

"I'm afraid that when Tom finds out what I've done, he's going to leave me," Crystine says. "We have a lot of bills. We have a bankruptcy payment that we have to pay, over $3,000 a month, and because of the money I'm taking, if we don't pay that, we're going to be in default on a bankruptcy and lose our house. I believe I'm the source of all our problems right now, but I do believe if Tom hadn't been so hard on me, things wouldn't be this way."

Dr. Phil explains that infidelity can mean betraying your partner in any area, including money. He turns to Crystine and Tom. "Are you guilty?" he asks Crystine.

"Yes, I am," she says. Crystine says she's ready to come clean. "I can't take the pressure from it anymore. It's too hard."

[AD]"Is it guilt? Is it fear? What is it?" he asks.

"It's guilt. It's fear that he'll leave me. I can't keep track of one story after another. We're gong to lose our home. We had to file for bankruptcy. All these things are my fault, and I know all these things are my fault, but I don't know how to stop it," she says.

Crystine says her husband only knows about five percent of what she's been doing with their money. Dr. Phil asks Tom, "Are you ready to learn the rest of the story?"

"I'm ready to learn now, yeah," he says, holding his wife's hand.

In a previous interview, Crystine comes clean. "I told lies upon lies, and I can't keep track of the lies, and I don't know where to stop," she says. "Every month, Tom wants my pay stub. As soon as I get it, I shred it, and I make up an excuse of why I don't have one. When I get my paycheck, I take what I need, and I put the rest of the money into our joint account, so it looks like I'm depositing my check. When I go to the grocery store, if I spend $65, I'll pull an extra $40 to $80 almost every time and pocket it. I just tell him that's how much the food costs, and I don't have a receipt. My husband has no idea that I do that. Once a week, I go to the gas station, pump up the gas tank, and when I'm done, I put an extra $20 or $30 on the debit card. I don't like lying to Tom about the money thing, but if I don't, then I won't have any money. When I go shopping, and I buy clothes for myself, before I take them in the house, I will take all the tags off, and I will put them in my closet, and I will leave them in there for months at a time, and then when he sees it, he looks at it and asks, ‘Oh, is that new?' and I say, ‘No, I've had it for a long time.' I have an addiction to Starbucks. If my husband found out that I drink over $200 worth of coffee a month, he would lose his mind."

Tom reacts to his wife's confession.


Dr. Phil explains that they may have marital issues, like Tom being too controlling with their money, but they need to deal with the deception issues first, or there is no marriage.

"I love my husband. I love my family. We have five beautiful children, four grandchildren, we have a life, and I have ruined it," Crystine cries. "I can't stop, and I don't know how to make it stop, and I want to make it stop."

[AD]Dr. Phil accuses Crystine of waffling. "A minute ago, you were saying, ‘I'm doing this because I have no choice.' You say, ‘He would charge me for a tear rolling down my face.' You say he's unreasonable, he doesn't get it. You have to have certain things, and you have to lie to get them, or you wouldn't get it. Then you say, ‘No, I'm sabotaging the family, and I've run us into bankruptcy.' Which is it?"

"I think it's both," she says.

"He is at least being honest with you, and you're not being honest. When you lie, it overshadows everything else," he tells her.

Crystine has one more money secret to confess. In a previous interview, she admits, "Back in 2008, I received an $8,000 insurance settlement that he didn't know about, and I spent a good portion of it on Christmas. I bought [my daughter] Joanni a real Coach purse for $300, and I told Tom that it was a phony. I bought an iPod for my youngest daughter. It was $250, and I told him that it only cost, like, $80 or $90. I sent my daughter two great big boxes full of gifts, and it cost me $110 just to mail everything. I bought some really nice Egyptian cotton sheets, and Tom crawled into bed one night and said, ‘Oh, these sheets are really soft. Where did you get these?' and I said I bought them at Target. And I just kept spending it, and he never knew I had it."

"That sucks," Tom says, in reaction to Crystine's second confession. "I'm out eating beans and rice on the road and trying to make the bills … "

[AD]Tom and Crystine have separated twice over money problems. Tom explains, "I thought that by getting Crys out and making her grow in the world, and making her understand that without my help, how difficult it really is. I did everything I could to make her grow, without being a father figure to my wife. I'm no saint by any means, but I'm trying to make it work."

Dr. Phil tells Crystine, "You have to decide that you either want help, or you want to be rebellious." He tells Tom, "Because you are overly oppressive, so she is rebellious. You do have a parent/child relationship here."

Crystine's daughter, Joanni, wrote to Dr. Phil for help for her parents. She says her mom has been lying about money for as long as she can remember. "The biggest concern I have with my mom is that she lies to my dad. She lies about money, how it's being spent. She hides it. I don't like seeing my dad struggle. My dad's always been a hard worker, and so now that he's older, he should start retiring and enjoying life, and here is my mom, who takes advantage of my dad," Joanni says. "She has used me as excuses. My mom would sometimes call me up and say, ‘I went to the store. I bought some things, so will you tell Dad that you owed me money or maybe you bought it for me for my birthday?' The lying will destroy my parents. I'm worried that they will divorce, and my mom will be living with me."

Crystine and Joanni disagree about who's really at fault.


Tom assures Dr. Phil that he's not hoarding or hiding money from his family, but Crystine disagrees, saying at one point she knows he had $200,000 in the bank.

Dr. Phil asks him, "Are you sitting on money because you want the security, you want to stack the cash, when she is having to invent ways to create lunch or fight to go buy milk for children?"

"As God is my witness, no," he says.

"Are you made at him because he's not wealthy?" Dr. Phil asks Crystine.


"Do you think he's lazy?"

"No, he's the hardest working man I've ever known," she says.

"OK, so he does what he does, and he makes what he makes. It is what it is. You say, ‘He doesn't open his wallet.' It doesn't do any good to open the wallet if it's empty!" Dr. Phil tells Crystine. "He cannot give you what he does not have." Dr. Phil tells her she needs to open up to her husband and have accountability for their money. "And if you don't have emotional integrity," he says, turning to Tom, "then you need to get out of this relationship and protect yourself." He tells Crystine it's as easy as stopping the lies and being held accountable.

"That is why I'm here today," she says, crying. "I love this man, and I don't want him to leave me when we walk out that door."

Tom says he's not going to divorce his wife; he's committed to working out the problems.

Dr. Phil urges Crystine to stop transgressing, and urges Tom to partner with his wife when it comes to money, instead of lecturing her. He offers them help from a financial planner to learn how to negotiate with each other, work with a budget and stay accountable.

[AD]"Thank you," Crystine says.

"If you tell the truth, you play this straight, he will forgive you for what's happened so far," Dr. Phil tells her.

Tom nods.