According to Merriam-Webster, one definition of manipulate is:
to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one's own advantage
This sounds really bad right? Can you imagine going to your spouse and saying, "You've been controlling our money by insidious means to your own advantage"? Ok, no one's going to say that, but the ramifications of manipulation can truly manifest into something that actually is as bad as the definition of manipulate sounds.
Bentley Marriage & Family Counseling states that MANIPULATION CAN SHOW UP IN THE FOLLOWING FORMS:
- Selective attention
- Evading or being vague
- Guilt tripping
- Projecting blame elsewhere
- Pretending to be innocent
- Pretending to be ignorant or confused
- Making you doubt and question yourself
Whoa! These are only SOME manipulation tactics. The sad thing is, they not only occur in marriages, but can occur in parent-child relationships, as well.
There's always a head of household whether we want to admit it or not. Sometimes, we can use our role of being in charge to manipulate our spouse. As my toddler would say, "that's not nice." Lol. We use the cover up of not wanting to "concern" our spouse with the bills or leave a little gray area when it comes to how much money we're actually bringing in. Sometimes, we'll do the taxes and not show our spouse anything but the dotted line they need to sign on. We use the excuse that our spouse isn't interested in our finances as a way of not informing them of what's really going on. Perhaps, as the CFO of the household, you're calling the shots on how money is invested without consulting your mate. All of the aforementioned tactics are forms of manipulation.
I can't stress enough that I want you, me and every other couple to have a healthy, prosperous and life-long relationship, but that can't happen if there is dishonesty and manipulation in our midst. If you have been guilty of using the tactics above, make a commitment today to be open, honest and transparent. If you feel that your spouse has used these tactics against you, then it's time to sit down and have a real conversation--one where the aim is resolution and not conflict.
LOVE AND MANIPULATION CAN'T CO-EXIST.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)
Manipulation is all about "self" and if you want your marriage to survive, you have to stop focusing on self and start focusing on "us." If manipulation is persistent in your household when it comes to money or any other subject, and it has your relationship in a gridlock, then don't be afraid to seek help. Sometimes, it takes an unbiased outsider to hold a mirror up to us so that we can truly see ourselves and the things we are doing.
In the comment section below, tell me your story? How has manipulation impacted you and your relationship?