NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Using Money to Get Revenge in a Relationship

In my prior blog post, I talked about money and arguments in relationships (at the end of this article). In this blog post, I will address a particular issue about money and problems in relationships, namely, when money is used to get revenge.

Using Money to Get Revenge in a Relationship

Using Money to Get Revenge:
It's not unusual for someone in a relationship to use money as a form of revenge. When money is used to get revenge, the person who is exacting the revenge will either overspend or use money to manipulate in some way to get back at his or her partner.

Using Money to Get Revenge in a Relationship

Often the person who "acts out" in this way doesn't know how to communicate his or her anger and uses money as a way to get back. Needless to say, when the other person in the relationship finds out about the overspending or financial manipulation, he or she often feels angry, betrayed, and sad. Most of the time, this leads to mistrust and, in some cases it results in the end of the relationship.

The following fictionalized scenario is an example of someone using money to get revenge in a relationship. As with other money and trust problems, this problem is found in heterosexual relationships as well as gay and lesbian relationships. And, although I'm presenting the person acting out as the man, it happens just as often with women.

Nick and Susan:
When Nick and Susan came to marriage counseling, Susan was close to ending their marriage. She had just found out, for the second time, that Nick had withdrawn a large sum of money from their joint account and used it to buy studio equipment for his music production business without talking to her first.

She found out about the large withdrawal when she made an ATM deposit into the account and she was shocked when she saw the balance. She almost went in to speak to the bank branch manager. But, having gone through this before with Nick, she called him first before she panicked and he admitted to withdrawing the money.

When this happened several months before, Nick and Susan had a big argument. At that time, Nick admitted that he was angry with Susan because he felt that she was too controling about their money. Susan felt that, since she was the major bread winner in the marriage, she should have more of a say about money decisions. She also felt that Nick tended to be irresponsible with money, and she cited many examples in their argument. Nick felt that Susan was emasculating him and he admitted that he took the money to get back at her.

That was several months ago. At the time, Nick promised that he would never do this again. He replaced the money in their account, and Susan forgave him. But when it happened again, Susan was angry and she felt betrayed. She felt that she could no longer trust Nick, and she wondered what else he was being dishonest about.

Nick asked Susan for another chance and suggested that they attend marriage counseling. Although Susan wanted to end the marriage, she agreed to make one last ditch effort to save their relationship. But she told Nick that if marriage counseling didn't work out, she wanted a divorce.

So this was the state of their relationship when they began marriage counseling. Susan was very angry and hurt, and Nick was contrite, but underneath it all, he was angry too and unaware of it

Part of the initial stage of marriage counseling was to explore if there was a viable marriage to save and how invested each of them was in salvaging the marriage. Initially, Nick seemed more invested in saving the marriage than Susan. 

But after she was able to express her anger and also look at how she might have contributed to their problems by never allowing Nick to forget about financial mistakes that he made in the past, Susan realized that she didn't want to end the marriage. She wanted to feel that she could trust Nick and that he wouldn't try to get revenge against her, using their money, when he felt angry.

The marriage counselor helped Susan and Nick to improve their communication skills. She also helped Nick to see just how angry he was and how out of touch he was with his anger for Susan, which contributed to his seeking revenge by taking money from the joint account.

There were a lot of issues to work out, including family of origin issues for both Nick and Susan, Nick learning to be more responsible about money, reestablishing trust in the relationship, and both of them learning to communicate better with each other and not to use money to try to gain power and control in the relationship.

It was hard work but, gradually, over time, Susan and Nick worked towards salvaging their marriage.

Money problems are common in relationships. As previously mentioned, money problems are often one of the major reasons that couples seek out marriage counseling. It's not unusual for one or both people to "act out" and try to get revenge by either running up credit cards or manipulating money in some way.

Although it is usually a serious breach of trust when partners use money to get revenge, many relationships can be worked out with professional help from a marriage or couples counselor.

If you or your partner are using money to get revenge, you can work out this issue with an experienced marriage or couples counselor.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.