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Shopping addict becoming a hoarder, too

DEAR AMY: My wife is a shopaholic. She is constantly buying clothes, purses, shoes, gifts for people and things we don't need. Our house is starting to get full of all this stuff, and I am really worried about our future. I have tried to help by selling the things that we don't need, but she just goes out and buys new things that we don't need. She has a job that pays really well, but she has not saved anything. I try to confront her about her spending, but it is tough since I don't make as much as she does. Her family and friends treat her shopping addiction like a joke, and they encourage her by going on weekend shopping trips together. They also take advantage of her by purchasing stuff from her for almost nothing. What can I do?

-- Worried Husband

DEAR WORRIED: Shopping addiction is a real and serious affliction, and it doesn't matter if you can basically afford to blow your money; the behavior is what's important, and based on your description, your wife is out of control. Also, like many addicts, she is surrounded by enablers, users and people who basically benefit in various ways from her affliction.

Characteristics of addiction are the inability to change one's behavior, in spite of the negative impact it has on the addict's life.

Your wife needs professional help, but she won't seek help if she doesn't acknowledge the problem. You should focus on trying to protect yourself from the realities of this. Untangle your finances in case your wife spends herself into a mountain of debt (she may have already done this, despite her high income).

You should not resell this stuff, or rent a storage locker, etc. for her hoardings. You should urge her to recognize this as a problem and seek help.

A support group such as Debtors Anonymous might help you (and her) get a handle on this. Check for information and local meetings.

DEAR AMY: In a recent answer, you said you had been an extra in some movies. Now I'm dying to know: What are they?

-- Movie Fan

DEAR FAN: I took up space and provided human volume (that's what extras do) in three films shot in Chicago: Clint Eastwood's "Flag of our Fathers" and "Iwo Jima," and the holiday nonclassic "Fred Claus."

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