Dealing with Financial Bullies

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My husband berates me about spending. He controls our credit cards, and has embarrassed me in front of everyone, even our children.

My husband demands receipts for every ice cream cone. If I don’t have one, he screams at me about how awful I am at spending “his” money. I spoke up because it’s been going on for twenty years.

My husband used to be generous and appreciative of my hard work as an engineer. However, once I started having children and stayed home with them, he lost it.

When his controlling side took over, he wouldn’t talk to me when I bought diapers that he deemed too expensive. Shopping for Christmas was already a nightmare and now we have grandkids. Why do I feel like the Grinch?

The worst thing now, is that my daughter is kowtowing to her husband, who’s doing the same thing. I’m furious!

Frustrated Mom

Dear Mom,

We encourage both of you to seek out professional therapy. It seems you may not realize you are accepting a form of domestic abuse. Your husband seems to be acting out issues regarding money, his marital and family roles, and lack of trust. Money and marriage aren’t the core problems here. Your husband has unresolved issues he can choose to deal with.

Here are some symptoms of a financial bully:

1) Making all the financial decisions, belittling you when you don’t or cannot abide by his or her decisions and puts you on an allowance.

2) Changing roles from being loving partners working together to plan, budget, and spend … to a parent — child relationship, which damages self-esteem.

3) Dictating which credit cards you may use, when you may use them, how you may use them, why he or she is allowing you to use them and demeaning you if you don’t follow the rules.

4) Flaunting the money one partner makes in front of others (especially if one partner stays home with the children) and punishing the guilty spender in front of others.

5) Scolding, finger-pointing, diminishing value of the spouse, especially in front of the children, is reprehensible and undignified.

Finances are the leading cause of stress in a relationship, according to a SunTrust Bank study. Another study by the American Psychological Association, found almost three-quarters of Americans are experiencing financial stress. According to a Citibank survey, 57 percent of divorced couples cite finances as the leading cause.

Financial decisions must be worked out together. We cannot stress the significance of going into couples’ therapy now to sort out this most damaging problem. Show this to your daughter and help her, also.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

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