Tantrum shopping is a thing now. Have you done it?

When this couple have a fight about marriage, they hit the shops. And sometimes, revenge can be as sweet as a tin of name-brand tuna…

Have you ever heard of tantrum shopping? I’m very familiar with it. I thought it was a behaviour that was unique to my husband and I, a sign of our endless money issues and immaturity. Thankfully I was wrong.

It emerged at a long weekend function that many of us are long-time tantrum shoppers.

Tantrum shopping: An uncontrolled outburst of emotion, expressed as the purchasing of goods or services. 

My husband and I have very different money personalities. He thinks he’s better with  money than me but thinks nothing of ‘investing’ thousands of dollars in the latest get rich quick scheme, obliterating our savings. I think I’m better with money than he is, but think nothing of spending money entertaining our kids on a weekly basis, adding up over the course of a month.

So, we both suck with money, clearly. Every now and then we sit down and attempt to come to some sort of agreement over how we will manage our money in a way that will keep us both happy, but what begins with a calm and loving couple sitting down with a beverage, a folder and a file full of bills, happily sharing our hopes and dreams, quickly descends into hissed accusations (we don’t want to wake the kids up), blame, folders thrown on the floor and one or both of us stomping off to different parts of the house.

Money fights are a leading cause of marital disharmony

We simmer for a few days and then it begins:

My husband announces we need a new LCD TV.

I take the kids out bowling and don't invite him.

He demands money with which to fix our family computer.

I do a reckless grocery shop and don't hold back, buying lots of Sirena tuna, a huge tin of olive oil, the most expensive cheese I can find.


He goes to Bunnings for a $30 piece of wood and comes home with a $900 circular saw.

I buy three new work dresses, all on sale but still, my way of saying 'f#ck you' over the circular saw.

Now, this is an abbreviated version of our behaviour, but one that I now know plays out in different ways amongst family and friends. Without identifying the parties involved, these are the tantrum shopping incidents that were shared over the weekend:

* A husband who binge shops for NRL merchandise, causing his wife to fly for Melbourne for a weekend away;

* A wife who buys gourmet groceries, causing her husband to shout 'the boys' endless rounds of drinks;

* A husband with a secret credit card that he uses to buy electronics and secretly pays off with his tax return by lying about how much he received, his wife finds out and books and pays for a family ski trip;

* A wife buys a lot of new clothes for her three children, her husband responds by purchasing half of all the stationary at Officeworks and locks it in a cupboard, refusing to share;

* A husband who is meant to be packing his lunch at home but instead is buying it every day, resulting in his wife ordering takeaway for dinner for five nights.

Sure, tantrum shopping shouldn't be occurring in so-called healthy marriages but who has one of those? I prefer to think of mine and these relationships as 'normal', as 'medium-level functioning couplings' in which money was, is and always will be a huge emotional issue.

Have you or your partner ever tantrum shopped? What do you typically buy?