Is Your Spouse Bullying You Financially?

By Sanesh Mathew | January 18, 2021

Financial bullying is a serious matter. Is your spouse or partner a financial bully? Here’s how you can find out whether you’re being bullied financially or not.

Is Your Spouse Financially Bullying You

Arguments over money aren’t uncommon among couples. It is a part and parcel of relationships. Don’t you agree? But is it okay if your partner screams at you for overspending? Is it fine if they take away your Credit Card or ask you to give them your every paycheck? No, it isn’t okay. No, it isn’t fine. You are being bullied. Your partner is a financial bully!

Yes, my dear, financial abuse is a thing. Just like domestic abuse. Financial abuse is a rather vast term used to cover everything from your spouse or partner spending money from your joint account without asking or telling, taking loans in your name, making you spend for everything or keeping a check on your every expenditure.

Additional Reading: Creating & Managing A Joint Account With Your Spouse

Though it doesn’t start with a bang, financial bullying often starts with the small things like your partner secretly checking your account statements or asking for receipts when you go to the supermarket or hang out with friends. Men and women are equal victims of financial abuse.

Let us consider the example of Bhagya, a 32-year-old housewife. Married at the age of 30, she had a great married life until things started falling apart a few months ago. And what was the cause? Money! Her husband and mother-in-law started to scrutinise her every expenditure. It went to the extent that she would get yelled at for buying expensive, branded wheat flour from the supermarket when she could have got wheat flour from the nearby grocer at a cheaper rate. Sad, right?

So, what makes a person turn into a financial bully? Well, there are many causes like anxiety from past experiences, control issues or even the desperation to get out of debts fast. Whatever may be the reason, it just isn’t right for someone to take their frustration out on you, is it? We don’t want you to lead a life of financial abuse. So, here’s how you can identify if your spouse or partner is financially bullying you.

Do you often get scolded for spending a little over your budget? 

This pushy behaviour from your partner’s end is a sign of financial bullying. Okay, you had a budget and unfortunately, you spend a little extra. Yes, your partner gets to be angry with you, but it doesn’t give him or her the right to berate you. It does not allow them to point their finger at you and lecture you. So, if your partner chides you for spending beyond your budget, then you should sit down, talk and settle the matter before the problem blows out of proportion.

Additional Reading: How To Balance Your Income And Expenditure

Does your spouse divide cash unfairly?

Talk about control issues! When it comes to disposable income, do you often find your spouse or partner taking away more than half of the money for their expenditures? Then, you’re dealing with a control freak. Even if your partner earns more than you, the disposable income should be shared equally between the both of you. So, if your partner says stuff like ‘I earned it, so it’s mine’, it’s a sign that he or she is trying to gain control over you.

Does your spouse or partner take away your Credit Card?

If you have been using your Credit Card a little too much, then it is okay if your partner warns you about overspending. It is also okay if they set specific things such as groceries, utilities, discretionary spending, etc. where you can use your Credit Card to pay. But if your partner or spouse takes away your card or completely controls how you use it, then he or she is trying to dominate you. And you, my friend, are getting bullied financially.

Additional Reading: 8 Signs That Prove You’re A Credit Card Addict!

Does your partner undervalue your income?

To belittle one’s income isn’t really a good sign, especially when you are in a relationship with that person. It is a case of financial abuse! Both men and women often fall prey to this kind of abuse. For instance, there are cases where the woman is a housewife and is not satisfied with her husband’s salary. And she keeps taunting him about it. On a similar note, some men who earn much more than their wives often complain about how little their wives earn and how much they spend.

Do you have to give your every paycheck to your spouse?

Honestly speaking, the high-earning member of the family gets an upper hand when it comes to finances. But, some of them may go a little overboard and demand their partners to hand over every paycheck of theirs. Is your partner doing this to you? Well, in that case, you are clearly getting bullied financially.

Have you been put on an allowance?

This usually happens to spouses who aren’t primary bread winners or those who do not work. In this type of financial bullying, the earning (or higher-earning) member often puts their partner on an allowance or house money. It’s like giving you pocket money for your daily expenses. It’s not a bad practice actually as long as both the spouses are on an allowance. Else, this practice is a red flag. Your partner is trying to control you!

Additional Reading: How Married Couples Divvy Up Their Expenses

Does your spouse manage the finances?

It is perfectly healthy for the primary breadwinner to handle all the financial matters. But what if they start misusing their power? What if they start blaming the other for spending too much or increasing their debts? Well, then it becomes a case of financial abuse. Whether your partner is the primary breadwinner or not, he or she does not have the right to dictate the details of your monthly budget. It is a mutual decision. At any time, if your finances are a wreck, then it is better to sit down, discuss and sort stuff instead of playing the blame game. Cool?

Now that you know how to identify if you are being a victim of financial abuse, we’re certain you’d want to know how to deal with the problem too. So, we have got a few expert tips to stop your partner from bullying you financially. Here you go:

Understand the seriousness of the situation

How bad is the bullying? An extreme case of financial abuse can lead to an abusive relationship. If you think the bullying is getting worse by the day, then it is time you put your safety first and get help from a counsellor.

Additional Reading: 5 Money Management Tips For Married Couples

Talk it out

Sometimes you can get rid of serious issues by just having a heart to heart. An honest conversation with your bully partner will help you identify the root cause of the issue and eventually sort it out. Your partner may have had a bad financial history and maybe that’s why he or she is acting in such a way. Sort it out by talking to him or her!

Your feelings matter

Instead of focusing on what your spouse or partner is doing wrong, you could focus on your feelings. What effect does the bullying have on you? How bad does it feel to be controlled by someone? Talk about your feelings with your partner and they will understand you. The point here is that you are not finger-pointing at their mistakes, rather you are just expressing your feelings.

How about some money advice?

Ever thought of approaching a money-management expert or a financial planner to help sort your money matters? When you are in a stalemate situation with your partner or spouse, it makes sense to get an outsider view. Getting help from an expert will ease the bullying since he or she will give you a plan to follow.

Additional Reading: Money Management 101

Switch roles

You may be a more of a saver while your partner may be more of a spender. Why not switch roles every month? For the first month, you could be in charge of the budget and savings while your partner keeps a track of the expenditure and long-term investments. Change roles the next month. Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it?

Seek help

If you think you are at an impasse, maybe it is time to seek help from a counsellor. After all, you need to save your relationship too before it gets too late. But, don’t delay getting help. Got it?

So, is your spouse or partner financially bullying you? Now that you know whether he or she is, you need to take the necessary steps as soon as possible. Good luck!

*First published in July 2017.
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