Would you like a financial controller with that (relationship)?

  • controller

Would you like a financial controller with that (relationship)?

Forgiveness doesn’t mean they didn’t hurt you. Nor does it mean what they did is acceptable.  Forgiveness means that they no longer control your life… And you have taken back your personal power.” Anurag Prakash Ray

In current affairs media and magazines this month the theme of domestic violence has been hard to miss. I have a sense that the more we hear about the issues of domestic violence the more we may be able to see what this experience really is.

This brings me to a discussion I had a few months ago with a very successful businesswoman whom I find very inspiring. She shared a deeply personal concern with me and her story was remarkable. A number of years ago she amicably divorced her husband of 18 years, easily coming to a financial settlement and agreeing on a joint custody arrangement of her almost school leaver children. Not long after this she met someone new and was swept off her feet.  Also a highly paid executive she was looking forward to the intellectual match. Before long her children moved away to study at university and she decided to set up home with her new man.  She loves many aspects of their relationship except one. He behaves in ways that control her financially. It started with small criticisms and comments, moved on to him suggesting that she contribute more than him because her now grown up boys visit frequently and has now escalated to her spending every dollar she earns trying to contribute more to avoid the wrath of his criticisms. So what’s the relationship with domestic violence? She told me she was reading a magazine and it had a list of behaviours to look out for in the context of domestic violence and one of them was the exact form of “financial controller” she is experiencing.

I would like to emphasise that this woman has not been physically threatened, assaulted or intimidated. She was surprised to discover that financial control is a trait exhibited in some cases of domestic violence and this prompted her find resources in relation to how to deal with a partner who exhibits controlling behaviour in relation to her money and finances.

So what is control and what might someone believe about themselves to be controlled against their will?

Control is defined as the power to influence or direct people’s behaviour or the course of events.  A controller is a person who regulates, directs or restrains.

The positive aspects of control relate to establishing good boundaries, a clear definition of roles and outcomes sought in a relationship and a sense of security. The negative aspects of control including feeling forced to take actions against will, being stifled and feeling threatened.

In the context of the negative aspects of control, it’s important to see both sides of the behaviour because to have a “financial controller” as described in this story, there is also a person who is being controlled and finds the behaviour negative. It’s important not to judge whether the behaviour of controlling someone else’s finances is wrong or right because two people faced with identical conditions could have two completely different viewpoints based on their personal values, filters, parental programming and life experiences. Both people would be right even though their views are not aligned.

Looking into the history of psychology in the context of controlling behaviours is like opening a pandora’s box into the possibility of psychological manipulation and personality disorders. In the 1970’s when Bandler and Grinder developed NLP one of their interests was to understand “how” people behaved in terms of steps and sequences to an even greater extent than “why” people behaved in certain ways. What NLP offers in many situations is circuit breaking for unresourceful behaviours. In the 1980’s Pip McKay developed a form of therapy called Matrix Therapeutic Coaching as an advanced progression on Tad James’ Time Therapy. What Matrix Therapeutic Coaching did was look at the behavioural programming origins in the form of discovering and resolving in the non-conscious mind an intricate web of beliefs and contributing life events instead of releasing a straight line sequence that may avoid some of the complexity in human behaviour resulting in a feeling of unresolved emotional charge.  What McKay found was that by discovering the original event or the earliest emotional programming that led to the formation of beliefs and emotional reactions these could be replaced in hypnosis by processing and reactions more suited to what the person may be seeking in their life.

Some steps to creating a better outcome in the circumstance of being responsive to someone else’s controlling behaviour starts with becoming aware of and changing your reaction to the behaviour. Everyone knows it’s hard to change someone else’s behaviour, and that if you instead focus on changing your own behaviour the other person will behave differently because the circumstances of how you react have changed. This may be positive or negative so it’s essential to be safe and assertive at the same time. A good way to do this in a conversation is to use “I” language and take ownership.  If the conversation could be confrontational it’s great to start with the phrase, “This may not land well…”  Remember the meaning of the communication is the response that you receive and there is no failure only feedback.

What if the conversation does not go well and the other person becomes defensive?  It’s great to ask what they are defending and to respect their model of the world. That does not mean that you need to comply and live within their model of the world.  What is most important is to know that everyone has the resources they need to achieve their desired outcomes.

So where does the story end for a successful businesswoman whose partner exhibits upsetting controlling behaviours around her money and finances?  She had the difficult conversation with her partner and he became defensive and upset. Through this she was able to express how she felt and how the behaviour was impacting her. She was willing to end the relationship if the matter could not be resolved. What she discovered through Matrix Therapeutic Coaching was that she would be financially, emotionally and socially better off living on her own. She made arrangements to move into her own property and was fortunate to be able to put a deposit on a small apartment and move into a place of her own. She and her partner are still together and are now living separately.

Sometimes something you see, look at or read at the extreme prompts you to look at aspect of your own life that you may be neglecting. Looking deeper into the emotional triggers you may benefit from unravelling the programming that may be responsible for how you think and react.  Then you can discover if your feelings were just a sign that you needed to make a change for the better.


Madelaine Cohen Author

Lipstick Learning is an initiative of Sydney based business leader, Certified NLP Trainer (ABNLP), entrepreneur and Master NLP Practitioner Madelaine Cohen. Sharing information and joining forces with people who choose to lead. Madelaine has more than two decades of inspiration from her businesses in consumer products, sports marketing, executive coaching and healthcare. She takes a leading role in mentoring executives and training business leadership in large and small enterprises. Why? Inspire people to lead and together we can create lifetimes of health and happiness. To find out how you can lead with even more authenticity and ease, contact Madelaine through Lipstick Learning.

Madelaine welcomes connection & networking so if you have something to ask or share, go for it.