Money and Relationship Manipulation

Is money important to us? Does it influence us?

Most people would agree that money is a powerful motivator that can be used for good or bad. It can help a relationship grow and feel secure or it can be used as a manipulative tool.

The Bible teaches that love is the value we need to exude. Love is about relationship.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV)

After doing premarital counseling for dozens of couples, I can tell you that shared finances are an important issue. It is important to ‘co-mingle’ your funds. It is not my money and your money but our money, not my car or your car but our car. There should be shared decisions and equal access and authority over finances. Amos 3:3 asks: “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” This is essential to health in a couple relationship. Sadly, too many people let money determine their actions and they turn toward manipulation.

Can you imagine your spouse controlling ‘our’ money to their advantage? When money becomes a primary focus it quickly moves to destruction of the relationship. It actually feels a lot like what we talk about in counseling as passive violence. It uses many of the same thinking errors that harm us emotionally: trivializing, lying, denying, selective attention, rationalizing, evading or being vague, guilt-tripping, shaming, vilifying, projecting blame, pretending to be innocent, pretending to be ignorant or confused, making you doubt and question yourself.

What does money manipulation look like?

If you are wondering how to know if you are being manipulated by money, here are some red flags:

  1. You are given (not a shared decision that is agreed on) a small allowance for household purchases, while he or she makes excessive purchases without consulting you.
  2. Every dollar you spend is scrutinized and probably criticized.
  3. Your partner controls the finances and you do not have any input.
  4. You are not granted access to accounts and statements.
  5. You don’t feel safe talking about finances—you feel belittled and blamed for money issues.
  6. Your partner is controlling and does not allow you to work outside the home. You are isolated and no one else really knows what you are dealing with.
  7. Your partner starts bank accounts that you do not have access to and may not even know about.
  8. You are feeling trapped and totally dependent on your partner.

Don’t be afraid to seek help.

If manipulation is persistent in your household when it comes to money (or any other subject), and it has your relationship in a gridlock, don’t be afraid to seek help. Sometimes, it takes an unbiased outsider to hold a mirror up to us so that we can see how damaging and abusive using money to manipulate can be. If this or any other type of emotional abuse is part of your marriage, we would love to help.  Contact our Marriage Recovery Center Client Care team here, or call us at 206.219.0145.