Emotional Wound: Financial Ruin Due To A Spouse’s Irresponsibility

When you’re writing a character, it’s important to know why she is the way she is. Knowing her backstory is important to achieving this end, and one of the most impactful pieces of a character’s backstory is her emotional wound. This negative experience from the past is so intense that a character will go to great lengths to avoid experiencing that kind of pain and negative emotion again. As a result, certain behaviors, beliefs, and character traits will emerge.

debtCharacters, like real people, are unique, and will respond to wounding events differently. The vast array of possible emotional wounds combined with each character’s personality gives you many options in terms of how your character will turn out. With the right amount of exploration, you should be able to come up with a character whose past appropriately affects her present, resulting in a realistic character that will ring true with readers. Understanding what wounds a protagonist bears will also help you plot out her arc, creating a compelling journey of change that will satisfy readers.

NOTE: We realize that sometimes a wound we profile may have personal meaning, stirring up the past for some of our readers. It is not our intent to create emotional turmoil. Please know that we research each wounding topic carefully to treat it with the utmost respect. 

We hope the sample list of ideas below will help you see how emotional trauma will influence your character’s behavior and mindset. For the full entry of this and over 100 other emotional wounds, check into our bestselling resource, The Emotional Wound Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.



  • Secretly overextending credit and being unable to hide the lie any longer
  • Gambling debts
  • Investments that have soured which one’s spouse has kept quiet about…

Basic Needs Often Compromised By This Wound: physiological needs, safety and security, love and belonging, esteem and recognition, self-actualization

False Beliefs That May Be Embraced As a Result of This Wound:

  • I can’t trust anyone to handle money but myself
  • I can’t trust my own instincts
  • I need to control all aspects of my life…

Positive Attributes That May Result: analytical, cautious, decisive, disciplined, efficient, industrious, intelligent, meticulous, organized, persistent, proactive, protective…

Negative Traits That May Result: compulsive, controlling, greedy, humorless, impatient, inflexible, judgemental, nagging, obsessive, possessive, resentful, stingy…

Resulting Fears:

  • Fear of trusting in the wrong person
  • Fear of poverty
  • Fear of the future…

Possible Habits That May Emerge:

  • Obsessive bank account watching
  • Demanding to know how money is being spent within the family (wanting to see receipts, etc.)
  • Restricting access to one’s accounts and investments
  • Refusing to use credit cards
  • Coupon-clipping…

TIP: If you need help understanding the impact of these factors, please read our introductory post on the Emotional Wound Thesaurus. For our current list of Emotional Wound Entries, go here.

For other Descriptive Thesaurus Collections, go here.

Image: StevePB @ Pixabay

Which emotional wounds are haunting your characters and keeping them from being whole and fulfilled?

Emotional wounds are incredibly formative, changing how a character views the world, causing trust issues, damaging their self-worth, dictating how they will interact with other people, and making it harder for them to achieve their goals. As such, understanding your character’s wound is vitally important to your overall story.

To help with this, we have integrated this thesaurus into our online library at One Stop For Writers.


Each entry has been enhanced and expanded to provide even more helpful information about your character’s wounds and is cross-referenced with our other thesauruses for easy searchability. We’ve also included a must-see tutorial on this topic—a crash-course on how a wound impacts the affected character and the role wounds play in his or her arc over the course of a story. Interested in seeing a sampling of our completed wound thesaurus entries?  Head on over and register for free!

On the other hand, if you prefer your references in book form, we’ve got you covered, too, because this thesaurus is now available for purchase in both digital and print form. In addition to the 120+ entries, each book contains instructional front matter to help you understand wounds and how they’ll affect your character and story. With chapters about the wound’s aftereffects and how the event ties in to the character arc, along with ideas on brainstorming your character’s wound and how to best reveal the trauma to readers, this book will be your go-to resource for connecting the backstory dots and coming up with characters who are well-rounded and realistic.





Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Emotional Wound: Financial Ruin Due To A Spouse’s Irresponsibility

  1. Jeff King says:

    I totally agree, our characters behave from every aspect of life…pain, love, disappointment, successes, parental up bringing biases and all, strengths, weakness, meekness or bravado all depic unique characters… Knowing this helps bring forth words on page to a sharp mental image of your characters.

  2. Joy Pixley says:

    Great post! This happened to my MC before the novel starts. Her nobleman husband not only spent or gambled away all their money, but got her father involved in his schemes and destroyed her family fortune too, before being killed in a drunken fight over a card game. She feels completely (irrationally) responsible for all of it, deciding that she should have paid closer attention, she should have fixed their problems, it’s all her fault. So now she’s driven to “redeem” herself by saving the remainder of her family all by herself, without allowing anyone else to help, even risking her own life to do it.

    Some of the related responses you list are relevant too, and I hadn’t thought of them; I will definitely consider adding more along these lines!

  3. I would add that one’s sexual desire for a person takes a big hit after you find out he’s been spending away your future in secret.
    (Also, a lot of those possible habits will also emerge if you try to write for a living!) 🙂

  4. liz n. says:

    Similar to one of my characters, difference being that his financial ruin came at the hands of his mother.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.