I meet several people and have the privilege of listening to their stories. Sometimes my heart is so broken as I hear the pain in their voice as they recount details of a relationship where they taught love was a common factor. It baffles me sometimes when I wonder if we actually remember those vows we made , if we meant to keep them or we were just lying through our teeth as we stood making vows we did not intend to keep.Sometimes it is the pain of wondering if the love we experienced or claimed to give or receive was a lie.
I remember listening in on the conversation as my friend’s(Slyvia) voice changed from excitement to one of sarcasm .I knew she was no longer speaking to her elder sister(Jane) but her brother in-law (Pastor Daniel).Sylvia as well as her other siblings resented Pastor D for crippling their sister who was now the sole provider in her home.
When Jane initially married Daniel about seventeen years ago, they both worked in the same organization .However a change in their company policy required all staff to have a degree or work towards obtaining one. Jane ,being more educated was unaffected while her husband who only had a Diploma stopped work, refused to further his education (a lot of their colleagues did this part-time) and announced that he had received a call to full time ministry.
Sylvia was pained because it was sister’s salary and donations from her parents that were used to rent the hall, print flyers and buy chairs to start the church. The irony is seventeen years on, the church had not grown beyond ten members and her brother in law had successfully hidden behind the mask of ministry forcing his wife to become the breadwinner of their household of seven indefinitely in addition to supporting the church.
A close friend told me some years ago that one of her male friends had ceased being a member of their church because of the actions of his wife. He found out much to his chagrin that his wife had donated (sowed a seed) a plot of land that he had previously purchased to a church project some years ago without consulting him. He was in search of the land’s certificate of occupancy when she mentioned it was no longer available.Instead of apologizing for her deceit and theft, she had the audacity to cite the fact that Abigail in the Bible used some of her family’s resources to appease David without the knowledge of her husband, Nabal!
I bet you are angry and hope you recognize that these people are experiencing financial abuse which can be perpetrated by both men and women irrespective of whether or not they are making any financial contributions. Like other forms of domestic abuse, one partner seeks to control the other but this time uses the money card.
Financial abuse includes but is not limited to one partner controlling all the money(irrespective of who earns it ), always making all the financial decisions in the house or constantly criticizing your partner’s financial decisions. It may also include keeping your partner in a state where there is barely enough money for basic needs, making them always having to beg for money(so dehumanizing) or account for every penny spent(rule only applied one way).It could also mean denying your partner’s access to their own independent money or jeopardizing their chances of working or finding a job.
If our needs or those of our family members are always a priority every time,to the detriment of our spouses, we may be indulging in financial abuse. The fact that a spouse is not working currently should not be reason for not rendering financial help to their parents, especially if we give ours on a regular basis.
Taking loans or credit cards in your partner’s name or even ensuring they are the named individuals on the bills in such a way that absolves one of any responsibility while transferring stress and debts which could damage your partner’s credit history is financial abuse. Withholding child maintenance money in order to control your ex-partner is also financial abuse. Disposing of the family assets either by destructive habits such as gambling or under the spiritual guise of sowing a seed without consulting your partner is financial abuse too. There is usually an interplay between emotional, financial and spiritual abuse. Many people have remained in abusive relationships due to financial insecurities.
Whenever we find ourselves n a financially abusive relationship ,it is expedient to access the situation to determine if we are contributing actively or passively. Sometimes empowering ourselves by becoming financially literate and having a source of income can change the dynamics This may mean returning to school, working at night or even a change of career. None of these will come fast and easy.
It is pertinent to ensure we are not enabling bad behavior such as always bailing out an irresponsible spouse (a spouse who continuously gets ticket fines should be made to pay for them or forfeit something in return). The truth is when people do not suffer the consequences of their actions, irresponsible behavior is guaranteed.
I know that the issue of joint accounts has been ingrained during pre-marital counseling but it might just be wise to see how your spouse actually handles money before joining your life savings with them. There is also no law that prohibits closing a useless joint account. It is human nature to recklessly spend what we do not work for and people tend to be amazingly generous with other people’s money.
You may need to put some checks on the amounts that can be withdrawn by one signatory only and for goodness sake, let’s read through all documents before adding our signatures .One lady I know was asked to change her signature to a new one which her husband made so as to reflect her new marital status(this thing has levels).
Finally, I think in a healthy relationship, having a one to one conversation with our spouses should address some of these issues but if they feign ignorance, you are permitted to share this article.
At the end of the day, money Is called currency because it is expected to flow .In a home where two people love each other, it should not be used as a weapon to yield power and control.
Someone has noted wisely that money is a good servant but a bad master, if it serves as the latter in your home, I can guarantee that your partner is hurting because it feels like your love is a lie
PS:Story of Abigail, Nabal and David can e found in the Bible in 1 Samuel 25
Featured image: Courtesy of Pixaby