Using money to control people (with apologies for the lengthy vent!)

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2007
Using money to control people (with apologies for the lengthy vent!)
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Tue, 07-05-2011 - 7:56am

As some of you know, I went away for the long weekend with DD and X-DH. I had a $1,000 budget and I managed to bring in the weekend UNDER budget, which makes me very happy.

During our trip, DD and I noticed some very strange behaviour by X-DH, which got me thinking about the use of money to gain control over people and situations.

In the past, X-DH has tried to control relationships by using money. At the end of our marriage, when I started to indicate that I would leave if things didn’t change, he began to sabotage our finances so that I would be financially trapped in the relationship (it didn’t work – I left anyways, penniless and saddled with cc debt). Years later, when he finally found a job and could afford to pay me the $225 per month child support that was part of our separation agreement, he would hold onto the money each month and make me ask repeatedly before handing it over. When DD went to college, he was supposed to continue with child support and we both agreed that he could pass the money directly to DD to help with her expenses. And again, he would make her ask numerous times, give her a hard time or insist that he would only give her the money if she performed tasks, such as keeping a list of how she spent every single cent or clean his bathroom when she visited home. It became so bad for her that I had to intercede and started collecting the money for her so that she didn’t have to deal with the games.

His behaviour became less abusive as he got older, but his control issues continued in more subtle ways. He always paid for everyone when he went out with friends or would buy rounds at the local pub so that he could look like the big man – much to his financial detriment. But now he has lost his job and simply doesn’t have the money to engage in this type of behaviour anymore.

DD and I asked him to join us for our annual Canada Day celebration and I indicated that I would pay for everything the entire weekend. DD and I knew he has been incredibly stressed and we thought the weekend away would help him. But we never considered the impact it might have on him when he would not be able to control the situation, especially considering he is currently feeling insecure and scared

At first, we were confounded by his odd behaviour. When we arrived at the hotel in Peterborough, we were carrying the luggage into the lobby and, when I turned around, he was gone. He had disappeared with the car without saying a word. He would have no idea what room we were in and wouldn’t have a key. DD and I checked in and got settled in the hotel room. After about an hour, we got tired of waiting for him. We went to the front desk, gave them his name and indicated they should give him a key if he showed up. We later encountered him in downtown Peterborough after we had trekked to the main strip of the city. He provided no explanation for his behaviour.

When we went out for dinner, he refused to make a decision from the menu and insisted that it was my job to order for him. I refused and, when the waiter came to take our order, I was embarrassed when X-DH insisted he was not in a position to choose from the menu. The waiter suggested their signature dish – jambalaya – and I finally indicated that would be fine. He petulantly ate his meal and, when I told him that he should feel free to order whatever he wanted in the future, he ignored me.

Later that evening, when DD and I went for a swim at the hotel pool, we came back to the room to find ourselves locked-out because the door bolts were on. We banged on the doors (it was a suite with 2 entry doors, but both were bolted) and after about 10 minutes

Kate


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iVillage Member
Registered: 12-12-2009

Wow Kate - sorry to hear how your ex seemed determined to derail your enjoyable weekend by having to control things. I am happy to be able to say that I don't know anyone who does this and I honestly can't understand why anyone would want to control others. I guess I never wanted any of the "power" that some people seem to crave.

If you go back next year, maybe you should leave the ex at home :smileywink: You're right, what a miserable existence it must be if controlling others is what you crave - because you really don't control them at all.

You are right about financial independence and being debt-free allowing you to own your life. Not always an easy lesson to learn, but it is priceless.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-14-2008

Oh I am all too familiar with this. In fact I think my ex controls his moods with money(and food). He is quite over weight and would eat to make himself feel better and spend to make himself feel better when the weight issue got to him.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2007
Ashley, absolutely that is the last time I take a vacation with X-DH!!

Karen, it's perfect that your post was about you and your relationship with your ex. I really wanted to hear other people's stories about money and control. Or lack thereof!

FYI, my X-DH is an alcoholic and diabetic. He doesn't take care of himself either, the same as your X-H. As a parent, I'm not only concerned with the bad example he is setting, I'm also concerned that his circumstances will financially impact DD. We've had a number of conversations about how she needs to protect her finances - but we never find any solutions because the conversation always ends with her saying "But he's my father and I can't sit back and watch him starve or become homeless."

In the meantime, I will keep saving and ensuring that, at the very least, I won't become a burden on DD in the coming years.

Kate


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iVillage Member
Registered: 10-01-2008
I have never experienced anything like this, but to be blunt & straight to the subject, "I be damned if he would be invited to attend any future trips." Just my two cents worth.

Norma


"Patience is the best remedy for every trouble"- Plautus


iVillage Member
Registered: 07-26-1999

Karen, I did the same thing as your ex for years: emotional eating to stuff down insecurity, and a whole host of other bad feelings about myself, and I spent money I didn't always have to try to feel better about being fat. IMO, the only help/way out is counselling, because after I quit over eating/overspending, I went on to a serial string of other unhealthy behaviours to take the place of eating/spending. They weren't ever any better, but I could justify each one, one after the other, and I'd move on each time I could identify that the behaviour wasn't actually helpful. I didn't understand any of that until recently, and I've been doing some really helpful counselling. Expensive though.

Kate: I don't have any relationship with my dad. It was a rollercoaster my entire life. I could never count on anything emotionally. He is a loose cannon, basically. If I see him in public, I don't know if he will hug me or start ranting about something. I can't depend on him at all, except to be UNpredictable. At thirty, after years of no contact, I tried to establish contact. I had to face the fact that he is never going to change, and unless I want to stay on the rollercoaster, I can't really have any contact with him. I am working on strategies that will help me cope for those times that I do run into him.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-24-2007
Thanks rebeccalouise, you are right : DD needs to own her life both financially and emtionally. You've really given me food for thought ... in fact, do I even emotionally own my life? I'm not sure I'm 100% there yet.

Counselling is a good idea. I went through 3 years of therapy in my 30's and it helped me a great deal. As for alanon, my daughter has attended meetings but it just isn' t for her. Just one of the issues she had was that she would be expected to follow the 12 steps, including step #8 which involves apologizing to people. DD steadfastly refuses to apologize for anything with X-DH because he already blames everyone else for his problems and she worries this will only feed his external locust of blame.

In any case, thanks again for the post. You've really given me some food for thought and I'll be talking with DD over dinner tonight about some of this.

Emotionally owning our lives .... I like it!!

Kate


empty purse

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Hi Kate, sorry to hear about the crazy weekend . . . but I'm glad you and DD had fun despite the craziness.

I feel for DD worrying about taking care of parents. I am going through this right now with my Mom and it stinks!

Bex -

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-26-1999
Following the 12 steps with Alanon and apologizing to people? I'm meaning the support group for people affected by alcoholic, not AA itself. They still expected her to do that? The group I went to was really supportive and we could talk about what life was like with an alcoholic in it. Never did they talk about us doing the 12 steps or apologizing to anyone. I'm think that is shocking they would expect her to apologize. I don't see a reason I should apologize to the alcoholic. It is supposed to provide emotional support to those affected by alcoholics. Sounds like they were making her wear the consequences of her father's behaviour (and thus magnifying its impact on her) rather than supporting her. Very unfortunate.

I don't emotionally own my own life yet. I'm sure you are still on the journey to owning yours too...I read a lot of enabling of your husband on that trip just to try to keep it nice. Please, please do not be offended...just thought in some small way it might help. I grew up watching my mother do that with my dad, and sometimes to some extent we do that with my brother too.

I suspect that unless your x gets counseling and does a lot of emotional work for himself he ain't gonna change, and the kindness you extend towards him to try to ease his stress/financial problems are not going to help him nor be appreciated, they will only frustrate and drain you. Sorry if I am being too bold. I don't mean to offend in any way. I just see a situation in which you try to help but in which the person isn't interested in help and so you end up with the short end of the stick.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-16-2009
I have a friend whose exhusband reminds me of yours. Same kind of unpredictable behavior and he would leave them stranded somewhere and disappear also. She had to get away from him and has very little contact only for her daughters sake. Luckily her daughter is grown now so she really can avoid him all together. Mentally ill is what she calls him.

I know its hard when it is a relative. I have disowned my aunt (my mom's sister). I have absolutely no contact with her. It has been about 10 years now, although I am afraid that when someone in the family dies I might have no choice but to run into her. It took me years to break the contact. She is mentally unstable in my opinion and does some terrible things to our family. I couldn't take it anymore. I told my family my wishes and why. It was hard for them. Luckily I live in another state than my family and my Aunt lives in another one also. So she doesn't visit alot and nor do I so the chances of us running into each other are slim. It would be harder if we all lived in the same place.

I know its got to be hard for your daughter cause its her dad! No matter what my Aunt does to my grandmother, my grandmother cant break the realtionship because it's her daughter. Rough times! Definatly no more vacations with him I'd say! And you are right about protecting your daughters finances. I know people who are drained by their selfish parents. She needs support and assistance in order to keep her life separate.
Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Rebecca, this link sort of helps, if you look at #5 under 12 Traditions, it explains that Alanon uses the 12 steps from AA to work through Alanon also.

http://www.texas-al-anon.org/12-12-12.htm
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