Paying the bills post-holiday can be a time of financial stress in many families -- and the stress could be causing more fights than usual over money with your spouse. That's normal.
There's regret and guilt mixed into those conversations, because someone or both of you overspent the budget or you both wish there was more income coming in. Those kinds of fights usually fade: you realize what you're really fighting about, and adjust the situation if you can.
It's inevitable that the two of you will have a slightly different approach to spending. One may want to spend a windfall on a $5,000 vacation and the other person wants to tuck the money away. (By the way, I think you ought to save!) Most couples find a solution in the middle, deciding to splurge with this windfall and agree to save the next one, or vice versa.
But what if the fights never end, or always end with you on the losing end? You might be in a relationship with a financial bully. This is a controlling spouse, either a man or woman, who uses money as a means to manipulate and control.
Web site Credit Karma published a list of seven markers and offers a quiz to help you recognize what might be a pattern of bullying in your relationship. In a survey with Harris Interactive, the website found 10 per cent of couples had one partner that the other identified as a financial bully. And it was equal opportunity: men and women were equally likely to be financial bullies.
Here are the markers. Remember, though, there are degrees of yes and no. A question from your partner about your spending habits doesn't qualify as bullying, and neither do those honest disagreements about money. On the other hand, if your partner regularly takes your credit cards away for a few weeks at a time, or often wants to accompany you to the store to veto purchases -- you may have a problem.
1. My partner doesn't allow me to have credit cards
2. My partner doesn't allow me to shop on my own
3. My partner gives me a monthly or weekly allowance
4. My partner makes me feel guilty about my shopping habits
5. My partner makes me show receipts for all of my purchases
6. My partner forces me to turn over my paycheck
7. I suspect my partner has lied to me about money
If you think you might be in a relationship with a financial bully, I urge you to reach out to someone close to you who can give you some added perspective. The first step to fixing a problem like financial bullying is recognizing it exists. Once the problem has been identified, then it’s easier to figure out what next steps might be best.