You probably already know that the number one thing that married couples fight about is money, and it is the leading cause of divorce. Many of these people do not realize that they were victims of “financial abuse”. Both men and women can be guilty of financially abusing their partner in a variety of ways, and it can often escalate to worse forms of abuse later on in the relationship. According to Purple Purse, financial abuse happens in 99% of all domestic violence cases. If you see these signs in your relationship, you just may be a victim of financial abuse, and on the path to experiencing something much worse down the line. Of course, you don’t need to have all 30 of these signs to be in a financially abusive relationship. Just a few of these are enough to put your relationship in an incredibly bad place, and possibly lead to divorce.
30. Limited Access to Money
If your spouse gives you a very strict allowance, or completely restricts your ability to have access to money, this is one of the many signs of financial abuse. In most cases, this will happen when one spouse is financially dependent on the other. Just like the allowance that is given to a child, the amount of money given to the dependent partner is usually very small, as if they cannot be trusted with too much money. By giving their partner a small amount of money, it also guarantees that they will never have enough to escape the relationship. This scenario can still happen even when both partners are working full-time jobs. Both paychecks may be deposited into a joint checking account, and one partner may try to control both incomes.
A financially abusive partner will try to tell the other what to do with their money- whether they earned it or not. For example, even if the stay-at-home mom is getting an spending money from her husband’s paycheck, it should be up to her to decide how what she does with it. Raising kids is hard work, and a woman deserves to get herself a Starbucks coffee or a manicure every once in a while. So long as the basic needs are being met, and their financial goals are on-track, one person should not be telling the other what to do. This is even more of an issue when both partners are working, and yet the other is trying to control what their partner does with their hard-earned money. This type of control may be more subtle and passive aggressive, like saying with disgust, “I can’t believe you bought that stupid thing.”
When you get into a serious relationship, both partners should be trying to help the other to improve their credit score, not make it worse. A bad credit score will prevent you from getting accepted into an apartment or qualifying for a mortgage. It will make things more difficult for your life during the course of the relationship, and it may hold you back for years from finally being able to buy a house. It will also make it next-to-impossible for you to leave the relationship, as well. Never let anyone destroy your credit score. If you are not sure where you stand, make a free account on CreditSesame right away to regain control of your score.
As someone who worked in a bank serving over 100 customers per day on the phone for over a year, you would be shocked to know just how many people overdraft their bank accounts. In many cases, these are joint accounts with a husband and wife. They had mortgages, groceries, and totally normal spending, and then suddenly, someone blows hundreds of dollars at a non-essential store at the mall. This means that one of the partners is bringing down their joint finances. If it only happens once, this is probably just a mistake that can be rectified by having more communication, and checking online banking before making a purchase. There is no need to be too concerned over one mistake. However, if this continues to be a consistent problem, this is a huge red flag.
26. Your Partner Gets Defensive Whenever You Want To Talk Finances
Talking about money is a normal part of any serious relationship. Once you are married, it becomes absolutely necessary to talk about money, and it is no longer an option. You are both legally tied to one another’s finances, like a business contract. So, if your partner gets angry and defensive when you try to discuss finances in a calm and rational way, it is a sign that they may not be totally honest and willing to work with you. Look out for “gas lighting”, which is when one person will try to make the other feel “paranoid” or “crazy” for being concerned.
There should always be a divide between work and home life. (After all, they call it “work-life balance” for a reason.) It is fine to talk about work, vent frustrations, or ask for advice. However, a spouse should never cross the line to interfere with your work life. For example, if your spouse hears about an issue at work, and they decide to call or email your boss about the things you said. This can seriously damage your reputation, or even get you fired. Most of the time, this happens under the guise of “I was just trying to help.”
In a small number of marriages, couples work together. So you are involved in each other’s jobs to a certain extent. However, even if you run a business or for the same company, it’s still a partnership or a co-working situation. Each individual has their own responsibilities, and one person should never be telling the other how to do their job.
Ambition is a beautiful thing. If you want to keep getting better as a person, this is a wonderful endeavor. No one should try to stamp that out- especially not your partner. If you have a lot of hopes and dreams, share them with your spouse. A supportive partner who feels secure about the relationship should react in a positive way. An abusive husband or wife will respond the exact opposite. They might say comments like; “Why would you want to do that?” or try to make you feel guilty by saying, “Is this life not good enough for you anymore?”
The definition of “financial infidelity” is when your partner is spending money behind your back. They might be taking out loans and credit cards without notifying you first. Once you are legally married, you become partly responsible for your partner’s debt. So by creating more debt, it only brings you both down. This level of infidelity is almost as bad as cheating on one anther sexually, because it can serious damage your relationship and your life.
There is a stereotype that wives will go out and spend all of their husband’s hard-earned money, but the reality is that both men and women are guilty of over-spending. When two partners are trying to reach a certain goal like saving for a house, they both need to be present and actively participating in that goal. If one of the partners is trying very hard to be frugal and save money while the other is draining the bank account until it goes to zero, there is something seriously wrong.
Couples should be able to have conversations about money like mature adults. It should be very simple and straight-forward to sit down with a spreadsheet or paperwork, and talk about financial goals and budgeting. But an abusive partner does not want this to happen. They will turn any reasonable conversation into a fight. Remember that someone who is financially abusive is all about taking control in the relationship. It’s their way, or the highway. They will be totally unwilling to find common ground and talk to you as their equal.
The more control an abusive person can have over your life, the better. They may even suggest that you quit your job. Yes- it may mean that there is less money coming into the relationship. But for them, that is not the point. An abusive person often wants their partner to need them. So if they can manipulate or control the situation for their own needs, this is all they want. It may come under the guise of, “Let me take care of you.”
However, don’t mistake this with suggesting to quit your job because they support your goals. For example, if you know that your partner is being mistreated at work, and they are truly unhappy, encourage them to apply to new jobs so that they can escape the bad one. Or, if they have a dream of becoming an actor or a writer, for example, you can offer to financially support them while they go after their goals. This should always be a decision made together.
If one partner is hiding a secret debt from the other, they may try to run out to the mail box first, and hide the mail. In the case where they are planning a surprise, this dodgy behavior will eventually be explained some day. However, if this kind of thing is happening all the time, that is a huge red flag. It is more than likely that the partner running out to the mail box is hiding something. They may not want you to know that they took out a secret loan or credit card without informing you first.
In a healthy relationship, both partners should be trying to lift the other up. After all, we should want our spouses to keep getting better and better, right? So if your partner is constantly trying to make you feel stupid, unsuccessful, or generally not good enough, this is emotionally abusive behavior. It is also a form of financial abuse, because if you have the most important person in your life telling you that you “can’t” get a certain job because you are “not good enough”, it will most likely mean that you will never get financial autonomy.
There is a famous quote that “marriage is just legalized prostitution”. It is sad to think that in modern times, marriages still function this way. But many of them do. If one partner has all of the money and the power in the relationship, they may withhold it until their partner performs sexual favors for them. This kind of behavior can happen the other way around, too. One spouse can say something manipulative, like, “I won’t ever sleep with you again until you get us a new car.” Either way, this is incredibly unhealthy, and will often lead to low self-esteem for one or both partners. It may also lead to one or both partners cheating, because they are not getting what they need from their husband or wife.
Tragically, both the victim and abuser might be stealing money from one another in this kind of relationship. If a woman is being denied her basic needs, she might find no other option than to steal money from her husband’s wallet, or vice versa. Normally, a partner should feel comfortable asking for money. If something like this is going on, this means there is fear of an honest and open discussion. They may also be trying to slowly save up a small nest egg in order to escape this bad relationship. It is almost guaranteed to lead to fighting, and eventually, a divorce.
Sadly, in far too many abusive relationships, one partner will come home to see that the TV or gaming system is gone. The person who sold it will make up some excuse, of course, like “I needed it for the rent”. This should always raise a red flag. First of all, these decisions should be made together. Second of all, if that property was yours, and it means that they stole your private property. You could actually call the police on them for something like that. Thirdly, this level of desperation usually means that someone else is going on. They may be hiding a drug habit or some other kind of issues that you have no idea about.
14. Discouraging Higher Education or Professional Development
Many couples who get married young eventually decide later that they want to go back to school. If your partner is discouraging you from receiving a higher education, it is often a sign that they feel insecure. Either they are afraid that once you improve yourself, you might think you are “too good” for your spouse. Or, if you begin to make more money, they will no longer have as much control over you.
If your partner is trying to discourage you from going back to school, get down to the core reasons why. Maybe they have a perfectly rational reason for discouraging you, because they disagree with the major you chose. In a case like that, they may truly have your best interests at heart. They support you in moving forward with your life, but they think you can do it a better route. On the other hand, if there is no rational reason why they are trying to stop you, they may just be trying to hold you back.
Earlier in this list, we mentioned the fact that an abusive partner might try to get you to quit your job. It is not always so blatantly obvious. If you refuse to quit, they may begin to sabotage your life so that you get fired. This can come in the form of turning off your phone so that your alarm never goes off, jumping into the shower when they know full-well that you need to get ready for work, or encouraging you to stay up too late at night.
There are a variety of reasons why one spouse may choose to be financially dependent on the other. For the vast majority of human history, women have been stay-at-home moms while the husbands went off to work. But in today’s world, there are plenty of households where both partners work. There is even an increased amount of men who decide to become a stay-at-home dad, because their wife has the higher income.
With this being said, there is a huge difference between partners choosing what they want, and one making a demand of the other. If two partners having a conversation about financial dependency and coming to an agreement that child care is too expensive, and one person should stay home with the kids, that’s perfectly fine. But if one partner is trying to force it on the other, that is never okay. Many times, it comes under the guise of “I want to take care of you.”
If one partner is constantly demanding to see what the other bought with their money, this means that there is zero trust. This might escalate into an argument, or at the very least, it insinuates that they either want to control your spending, or they believe you are incapable of making financial decisions on your own. There needs to be some level of trust in a relationship in order for it to work.
If one partner must ask the other permission to make every single purchase in their life, this puts an incredible amount of power and control into the other person’s hands. Even when you are married, you are still two independent people. You each have your own personalities, thoughts, desires, wants, and needs. And you are both adults who can make your own decisions. As long as you are both on the same page about how much you need to budget every month, it should not be your partner’s concern how you spend the miscellaneous money that is yours.
If one partner is financially dependent on another, this means that they need to ask for the bare necessities in order to survive. Unfortunately, this happens more often to women. They need feminine products, deodorant, makeup, medicine, and other toiletries in order to take care of themselves. And if they don’t have the money to buy these things, it can seriously have negative consequences on their health or self-esteem. Denying someone of their basic needs is one of the most abusive things you can do to someone.
Any time you are about to make a big financial decision like buying a house or a car, you should always run the idea by your partner first. If you suddenly come home with a brand new car that requires an additional $500 per month expense, that is never okay. This amount of money will mean that the both of you will most likely struggle to pay the bills. Also, if your partner suddenly decides to make a huge financial decision (like buying a new car) the odds are that you will have to make sacrifices in order to satisfy your partner’s desires. Something like this is incredibly selfish, and it is a sign that they never took your thoughts or feelings into consideration first.
Many experts say that in order for a married couple to have a successful financial relationship, they need to have a joint bank account. It is fine to still maintain your independent accounts, but opening the joint bank account is good for a few reasons. You can use it for the mortgage payment, utilities, and other shared expenses. This way, you both have access to the account, and you know that bills are getting paid on time. Everything is transparent. If one partner is in control of everything, and they never let you see the balance, this is an indicator of financial abuse.
Each person can still have their autonomy by maintaining their own personal accounts for their own purchases. In fact, everyone should have their own account that their spouse does not have access to, in case of a divorce. But even with these accounts, it should never be a problem to just pass your phone over to your partner and show them the balance. If your partner has never been willing to show you, it probably means they are hiding something.
In the last entry, we talked about being open and honest with one another about your bank account balances. There are some people out there who even feel comfortable enough to swap username and passwords to each other’s online banking. If you feel comfortable with this, that’s fine. But there is a huge difference between letting someone see how much you have in your account and a partner demanding that they give you the password. Swapping private information should be a choice. And if one person is overly animate about having access to your private accounts, this is a red flag that they may have bad intentions.
Some people are lucky enough to have inherited valuable things from friends and family. Maybe it’s a car, artwork, collectables, or a home. If your partner breaks these items knowing full-well how valuable they truly are, it is very literally destroying one of your assets. Or, maybe they are destroying something like your cell phone, knowing that you now have to spend hundreds of dollars in order to get a replacement. Even if they never lay a finger on you, this is a form of violence. It is often one of the first indicators that the relationship will get progressively worse as time goes on.
When you are working, your partner should have respect for the fact that you need time to get your job done. You need to concentrate on the tasks in front of you, and maintain a professional appearance in front of your boss and co-workers. So if your spouse is frequently calling, texting, or even showing up to your workplace unannounced, this is a form of harassment. In most cases, you will not be able to get your work done if they are constantly distracting you, and it may even lead to you getting fired.
When you first begin dating someone, it might take a while to find out just how much the other person makes. Unfortunately, some people never get over that shyness of asking how much they get paid, what their savings account is like, credit score, etc. Some abusive partners will try to get away with keeping this a secret for a long time. If they are withholding this information, or become very dodgy, it is often a sign that they will be incredibly difficult in other parts of the financial dynamic down the line in the relationship.
Just because you are married to someone does not give them the right to open a credit card in your name. This is still identity theft. Once you are married, it becomes all too easy for your partner to gain access to your personal information like your social security number and address. Since these credit cards are linked to your credit score, it could completely ruin you as an individual. If your partner does this, it is not okay. And if you suspect that it may be happening, check out CreditSesame. They will tell you how many accounts you have open, as well as your credit score.
Some couples choose to divvy out the bills to one another, instead of paying everything from a joint bank account. For example, the husband pays the electric while the wife pays for cable and Internet. An abusive partner will either threaten or make good on the act of not paying the bills. This is especially when they refuse to pay for head and electricity. Or, if they refuse to pay for credit cards, it means that your credit score will begin to go down.