Relationships can be complicated. And one thing that can make a relationship even more complicated is money. Although money can make life easier for a couple, it can also be mishandled and twisted into a disruptive force. Unfortunately, sometimes partners use money as a tool of manipulation and fear.
Here are horrible ways couples use money to get back at each other. Were any of these behaviors used against you?
When you think of abuse in a relationship, your first thought is probably of one partner physically hurting another. However, this is not always how abuse takes place. What you might not know is money can also be used to abuse an intimate partner. Money comes with a certain amount of power attached to it. And when one partner has access to, and controls, the majority of the household finances, a power imbalance can occur.
Jennifer White-Reid, vice president of domestic violence services at Urban Resource Institute in New York, told The Cheat Sheet financial abuse can take many forms. “Abusers perpetrate economic abuse through a variety of tactics, including control of income through wage theft, not allowing the victim to work and earn an income, opening credit cards and taking out loans using the victim or their family’s personal information to ruin their credit, and workplace harassment,” Reid said.
Next: Get your life back.
Fighting back against financial abuse
An Allstate Foundation survey found financial abuse happens in 98% of all domestic violence cases. Approximately 3 in 5 Americans say they know someone who has been financially abused by their partner.
If you find yourself in this situation, you should let someone know about it and then develop a safety plan. That plan involves gathering all your financial documents and keeping them in a safe place away from your current residence (such as a friend’s house, for example). If you work, set aside money in an account that cannot be accessed by your abuser. Also, order a copy of your credit reports, so you can check to see whether your partner has taken out credit in your name without permission.
Next: Family matters
Child support tricks
Many couples hope to one day have children. Whenever they see a baby in a stroller, they smile and imagine what life will be like once they introduce a bouncing bundle of joy into the world. Other couples might not have an immediate desire to have children and are waiting for the right time. Unfortunately, there are other people who see children as a money-making opportunity.
Some partners use children as a financial weapon to deceive their loved and make some quick cash. This sometimes happens when a woman tricks her partner into fathering her child and then demands child support. Although most single parents receive less than $500 a month (custodial parents receive an average of $3,950 per year), a greedy partner might still try to use deceptive means to get that money.
Next: What you can do
So what can you do in a situation where your partner tricked you into becoming a parent and then came after your for child support payments? When a child is involved, your only choice is to do the right thing instead of only focusing on the cash you were swindled out of. Support your child financially, and see this as a lesson learned. The wrong partner can have a very bad impact on your finances.
Next: Revenge of the spenders
You and your partner agreed to cut back on spending, so you can save money for household emergencies and hopefully replace some old furniture. Then, you find out your partner went out and bought a new, very expensive tech toy. You’re furious, so you decide to purchase that new outfit you’ve been eyeing.
A more extreme case of revenge spending was when baseball player Alex Rodriguez’s former wife went on a spending spree to the tune of $100,000 before filing for divorce. Unfortunately, revenge doesn’t work in your favor when it comes to family finances.
Next: Everybody is a loser.
Putting your financial health at risk
No one wins at the game of revenge spending. It might give you a temporary high and provide the satisfaction of one-upping your partner, but it usually yields destructive results. Emotional spending is a lot like emotional eating. It often leads to bad habits and can wreck your health — in this case, your financial health.
Instead of trying to get even, have a talk with your spouse and agree to commit to your financial goals. If you still have time, you could also agree to return your pricey items and put the money back toward your original financial goal.
Next: Unfaithfully yours
Do you have a dirty little financial secret? If you’ve been hiding financial skeletons in your closet, there are plenty of other people out there who can relate. It turns out, some Americans are hiding secret bank accounts and credit cards from their partners. Furthermore, approximately 22% of husbands and wives admitted to making a purchase they didn’t want their significant other to know about, according to Money’s Love & Money poll. Couples engage in financial infidelity for a number of reasons. It could be to avoid an argument, regain control in the relationship, or even hide an affair.
Next: Cleaning up your act
Among the Money poll respondents who said they made a secret purchase, 35% said they did it to avoid getting lectured. Whether you’re being financially unfaithful to avoid fighting, have more power in the relationship, or get away with cheating, this behavior can push your finances to an unhealthy state. Most notably, it could lead to overspending.
If no one knows about your financial habits, there’s no accountability, so you’re in danger of being irresponsible with your cash. The best thing to do is let your partner know about your spending habits and start fresh. Create an atmosphere of transparency, so you can manage finances as a team. You’ll reach your financial goals much faster that way.
Next: Shame is the name of the game.
When one partner is a spender and the other is a saver, conflict often arises. If you’re financially mismatched, especially if you’re the saver, it can be tempting to shame your significant other. You might feel everyone should be like you, and whoever doesn’t save and invest responsibly is just lazy. You might also believe shaming your partner will encourage him or her to be more responsible with money. However, shaming just leads to discouragement and resentment.
Next: Approach finances with love and understanding.
Learning to work together
Everyone has a different money personality. Sometimes spenders and savers fall in love and get married. One thing you don’t want to do is make your partner feel bad for not handling money they way you do. Be patient and willing to teach your partner how to make better choices. You can also attend financial seminars together and meet with a financial planner. He or she will be able to instruct you in the proper way to manage your finances. Who knows? You might even learn something new.
Follow Sheiresa on Twitter @SheiresaNgo.