The scenario of financial abuse in marriage is all too common and all too chilling. But, what is financial abuse in a marriage?
According to financial abuse definition, it translates into one partner exercising control over the other partner’s access to financial resources, which diminishes the abused partner’s capacity to be financially self-sufficient and forces them to depend on the perpetrator financially.
A partner in an unhealthy marriage attempts to assert control by taking overall assets. The underlying intent of the financially abusive partner is clear: keep the spouse from having the means to leave the union.
When one spouse creates a situation in which the other spouse does not have access to liquid assets, financial abuse, also known as economic abuse, is in play.
Financial abuse is a very sick dynamic in a marriage.
Every expenditure is aggressively accounted for. Purchases at grocery stores and other venues are vigorously tracked, with the “buyer” given just enough money to complete the task.
Other expenditures like health care expenses, clothing, and the like are discouraged. If a partner does not comply with these rigid demands, there is a “price” to pay.
Let’s be clear as we begin to talk about spousal financial abuse and delve deep into the dynamics of a financially abusive relationship.
Any time the need for absolute financial control in marriage undergirds the actions of our intimate partners, there is a reason for concern.
Financial abuse by a spouse is a silent weapon in a relationship and comes with serious consequences for the marriage.
By taking stock of the early warning signs of financial abuse in the marriage, you can find ways to escape the trap of money abuse in marriage.
Let’s take a look at the signs and symptoms of financial abuse in relationships, and consider some ways to counter economic abuse in marriage.
The obvious signs of financial abuse in marriage by husband or wife
1. Denial of access
If your partner does not provide you with free access to your money, this is a cause for concern.
While marital assets come from a variety of streams, they are marital assets. Not being able to access these funds when the need arises is a significant red flag.
2. Intense monitoring of spending
A spouse that requires a detailed expense report of marital finances, receipts, and anecdotal descriptions of your spending is a spouse with pronounced control issues. This hawk-eyed approach is one of the key financial abuse signs.
Further, requiring that you remit every penny of change after expenditure is an area of concern. Monitoring is compounded by the advent of digital accounts.
Because digital interfaces afford consumers “Real-Time” monitoring of financial transactions and balances, the scrutiny from the one perpetrating financial abuse in marriage can be even more pronounced.
These are just some of the glaring financial abuse in marriage facts.
3. Anger with spending that benefits the abused one
If you spend money on yourself for clothing, entertainment, food and the like and your partner goes nuclear, you have a problem.
There is nothing wrong with engaging in self-care and spending a little bit of money to make it possible.
Gauge the reaction of your partner when you report an expenditure. Is he furious? Run!
4. Your partner gives you an allowance
You are not a child “earning your keep” or attempting to curry some favor with your intimate partner.
It’s not okay for your spouse to give you an allowance.
Again, marital assets are marital assets. You are entitled to spend the marital money so long as you are doing it in a healthy and communicative way.
If you’ve been restricted to the predetermined, inflexible amount of financial support, something’s not right.
Further, if the “allowance” is taken from you, something truly unsavory and concerning is afoot. Don’t stand for it!
5. The significant other demands repayment
Your spouse/partner is not a savings and loan account.
When you make household purchases out of marital funds, it is quite inappropriate for the partner to ask for repayment of the funds. Unfortunately, this happens too often.
Further, some extremely nasty spouses demand interest on marital funds that are to be repaid.
Yes, it’s ridiculous and yes, you do not have to live with it.
6. The partner will not let you work
Often the financial abuse individuals endure morphs into something far more nefarious.
If your partner will not let you work outside of the home, the issue runs far deeper than finances. A dangerous situation exists if you are unable to leave home.
No one should ever feel restricted in this way. Even if you are made to feel guilty about working, be on your guard. You should never be made to feel shame about wanting to work outside the home. It would also be helpful to become aware of some key dynamics of abuse in a relationship and seek help.
7. The double standard
Sometimes an abusive partner will make a whopper of purchase with your joint money after you’ve bought something small for yourself.
A massive, unexpected purchase after a rough fight is an indicator of financial abuse. This is, of course, all about control.
Your abusive partner cannot stand the thought of you doing something good for yourself that reaches beyond them. They need to get over it.
What to do?
If you have experienced any of these tell-tale signs of financial abuse in marriage, you are probably dealing with other types of abuse in your marriage. Emotional abuse, physical abuse, and the like should not be tolerated under any circumstances.
If your situation resonates with any of these financial abuse examples, perhaps the most important thing to do is to create an escape plan for yourself and your dependents.
By nature, an escape plan will require a lot of behind the scenes, clandestine work. Store some money with a trusted friend or family member. Identify an emergency place of residence.
Let police officials know about the predicament of financial abuse in the marriage so that a file and response will be ready when you need it.
Gather your important documents, prescriptions, and the like and have them ready for quick retrieval should the moment of escape present itself.
First and foremost, do not hesitate to ask for help. Do not put yourself in a situation that provides few avenues for escape.
If financial abuse in marriage is your reality and your partner exhibits the red-flag characteristics of an abuser, then choosing to leave the abuser and establishing a financial plan for survival is a must-have.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.