FINANCIAL

Financial Bullying Can Hurt Marriages

By Claudia Buck
The Sacramento Bee

There are bullies on the playground, in the classroom and at the office. Or perhaps right beside you at home.
Financial bullying among couples, whether they’re married or not, is a less visible but insidious type of intimidation and control.

It can take many forms, from withholding money from a spouse’s bank account to demanding to see receipts for every shopping trip.

And it may be more common than we think. One in 10 respondents say their spouse or partner is a financial bully, according to a recent survey by CreditKarma.com, a personal finance website based in San Francisco.

“It’s eye-opening. A lot of people don’t realize the things that could be construed as bullying,” said Greg Lull, CreditKarma’s vice president of analytics.

With money often cited as one of the top causes of divorce, it can be extremely important to sort out the financial conflicts that trouble a marriage or long-term relationship.

“It comes down to using money as a weapon of power,” said Peter Cole, a Sacramento, Calif., chartered financial consultant, who also is a marriage therapist. “Financial abuse is used in almost identical ways to verbal, sexual or physical abuse to control somebody and express anger and unresolved emotions.”

He’s seen couples where the wife was berated or overly scrutinized for almost any purchase beyond groceries. In another case, one spouse had access to the other’s 401(k) retirement account and secretly used it to invest in highly speculative stocks that drained the $500,000 account down to almost nothing.

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