7 Ways To Confront Financial Hypocrisies

Many of us believe that wrongs aren’t wrong if done by nice people like ourselves.” ~Author Unknown

Back in my first blog on confronting hypocrisy, one wife said, “I want you to stop complaining about money. It’s not sexy and you will never ever be satisfied with what I do.”

Her husband said, “She never sticks to our budget and she won’t participate in realistic financial decisions.”


His wife’s typical response was, “No matter what I do, it’s never enough. You’ll never be satisfied.”

He might continue to describe her unilateral spending as a problem and say that he’d like more collaboration. She may resist.

After some good detective work, you determine that she does indeed have reckless spending habits. She often digs in during sessions and refuses to discuss money, budgets or her complete illiteracy about their investments.

Now let’s look at some specific confrontations you might use with her.

Here are 7 brief responses to her complaint and to her desire to stay regressed and unthinking about finances.  Remember that unpacking a very entrenched position will probably take time and you will need to integrate a combination of these responses. I’ve tried to list a variety of choices. I start with some that are easier and create less anxiety for the client, and later I present some in which you intensify discomfort in the client as you challenge her avoidance and resistance.

  1. Consider whether her impulsive spending started in early childhood. What purpose might it serve?  Does she nurture herself or try to feed low self-esteem with extravagant purchases?
  2. Explore and illuminate family of origin components and parallels.  Ask,  “Did you grow up rich or poor?” You might look for ways her experience as a child is now being replicated with her husband. “Is there someone in your family of origin who was never satisfied with your participation?”
  3. Also ask about how hard she thinks it would be to learn more about money and investments. Does she have learning issues? Does she think she is too stupid to understand their finances? Or, does she refuse to make the effort so that he will be forced to take care of her financially?
  4. To increase the tension a bit more, you can agree with her very factually. “That’s right, your husband is not likely to ever be satisfied. Your current financial involvement will never be enough as long as he wants an interdependent financial relationship with you.”
  5. Increasing the tension even more, you might confront the implications if he were indeed satisfied with her low involvement.
    Ask her about the implications if he were satisfied. “Is that more of a statement about him or you?”  In this case you are opening her up to viewing what the marriage might be like if she were infantilized and viewed as not having enough intelligence to participate as an equal partner.
  6. Next, you might want to illuminate what she does with her own anger. “What do you feel when you hear him say you never do enough financial collaboration? What are your thoughts about him? And then what do you do to cope with how you feel about him?” Following this line may surface her silent but angry rebelliousness.
  7. And last, find out what the client wants from you. “What do you wish I would do?” This question will elicit the client’s transference to you and their unspoken wishes about how you might rescue them from the wrath of their parent/spouse. Does she hope you will support her? Is she creating a bind for you? Perhaps support means that you will get her husband off her back, protect her from his disapproval, and make him leave her alone. Or perhaps support means that you go along with her request/demand that you not talk about her spending in therapy.
    Either way, support to her may mean that you continue to support her regression. Throughout your exploration, explore her desire to stay regressed. Do it gently, allowing her to come to an understanding of why staying regressed seems best to her.
    You will want to address both sides of this dilemma by saying something like, “ I do want to support you and I don’t want to see you having to face your husband’s ongoing anger and frustration. Even worse, I hate to see you feeling inferior so often. On the other hand, I don’t want to see you working so hard to defend your inability to collaborate and your refusal to be more interdependent with your husband.”
    Give her a moment and ask, “What do you think and feel about what I just said?”

If you check back on my original blog, you’ll find an interesting example from Deb H. She described a woman who complained about her husband’s affair, but also had issues of her own that she was avoiding. Deb underscored the wife’s understandable hurt, but also pointed out that she, too, was betraying the partnership by going behind his back and getting them into debt.

Can you add any other money binds you’ve seen?  Or favorite ways you confront someone who is dug in and defending their stubborn refusal to develop themselves on other issues? Have you used some of these approaches yourself? What was your experience with them? How might you adapt these suggestions to confront other hypocritical binds?


sourced from http://www.couplesinstitute.com/