Mike and Helen.
This couple was married 27 years when this incident occurred.
Mike and Helen shared a savings account that they had both contributed to for years. When they set it up they agreed that when either of them wanted to withdraw money, they would talk with each other first. And, make a joint decision.
In spite of their personal agreement and the bank’s signature requirement (both of theirs were required), Mike managed to withdraw $21,000.00 without Helen knowing.
When Helen learned about the withdrawal, she felt shocked and angry: (1) that he would break their agreement, and (2) that he needed that much money. What in the world for?
So, Helen asked him about it. Mike didn’t even answer her. (Ignoring is a powerful manipulation.)
As much as she hated the silence, she wasn’t surprised by it; lots of times when she spoke to him, he didn’t answer her. But then, she reminded him that the bank required both signatures for withdrawal. To which Mike replied, “No, only one. (Lying: another powerful manipulation.) (Lying is particularly lethal in a relationship because: how do you find out about something that’s hidden? Not easy.)
Later, Helen called the bank, thinking she must be mistaken about the signatures. She wanted to believe Mike; surely he wouldn’t lie about something this important. But, the bank rep confirmed that they did need both signatures. That meant, that to get the money, Mike had signed not only his own name but he’d forged hers, too.
Again, she wasn’t surprised about this; it wasn’t the first time he’d gone behind her back and taken money without her knowing. But, this time she thought she’d protected the money. Wrong.
Helen confronted him again. Why didn’t he tell her he wanted the money so they could have talked about it? Mike said that he needed it too quickly to talk about it; he couldn’t waste time talking to her.
Now, you and I know that time wasn’t the reason Mike didn’t consult Helen. Even if he hadn’t been rushed, he wouldn’t have talked with her. He wanted to take the money without her knowing.
Of course, that was the last thing Helen wanted to think. After all, they had an agreement. She definitely didn’t want to think that Mike had deliberately broken it. That would hurt too much. And, it scared her; $21,000 was a lot of money, almost all of their savings.
Helen felt more disconnected from Mike than ever. Why couldn’t he have come to her and just talked about it. That might have preserved their relationship. But, instead, Mike acted as though he had no partner. She was hurt but not surprised; it was an old pattern for him.
Really, Helen did feel like she was invisible, like she didn’t exist with him. Unfortunately, Mike had been acting like this about one thing or another almost from the start of their marriage. And, no matter what she said or did, he would “behave” for a while but then something else would come up and they’d go through this again. Two children latter and 27 years put into a marriage where apparently she didn’t count with her husband. She was finished; it was over.
What Happened Here?
Mike. Mike’s behaviors are aimed at Controlling his situation and passively controlling Helen. Of course, he’s manipulative, not just with Helen, but wherever he is, including with his kids.
(1) He has a very strong belief, whether he’s consciously aware of it or not, that he can do exactly what he wants, without regard to rules or promises, such as: (a) responsibilities to the relationship, or (b) the bank’s requirements, or even (c) traffic laws.
Sara, his early-twenties daughter, told me once that when she was younger and they were going somewhere in the car, he might slow down for a red light, but if he thought he could beat the cross traffic, he’s drive right through it. My heart jumped just thinking what might have happened if he hadn’t been lucky enough to make it in time.
(2) He doesn’t know how to partner. And doesn’t want to learn.True partnering means (a) talking situations through and probably (b) compromising. Mike has no intention of learning partnering skills. Helen’s married to a kid in an adult body; he just never grew up. Emotionally healthy adults want to cooperate with each other. Instead, Helen married someone who wanted the benefits of marriage without the responsibilities. It took a very long time for Helen to “figure him out.”
Helen. Helen’s a very Pleasing person. People with this personality are pretty naïve. And, they also think that if they keep trying, things will come out alright. In other words, they take on too much responsibility in their relationships. That’s what Helen did here. She kept thinking that if: (a) she talked about it, (b) she was patient, (c) she was a good role model, it would all come out alright.
Not really. We each decide very young, but UNconsciously, how we’re going to live our lives. So, what Helen didn’t know was that unless Mike, himself, decided he wanted to be an honest partner in the marriage, it wouldn’t happen. Unfortunately, it didn’t.
One of the morals of this story is that: (a) it didn’t matter what Helen said; Mike never decided. And: (b) when “lying” or “ignoring” come up the first time, take it seriously. Don’t excuse your partner. Chances are it’s a lifelong habit you just didn’t know about. Most important of all, if you’re in a relationship like this, (c) take care of yourself. He sure isn’t watching out for you.
Does Any of This Sound Like Your Situation?
Hope this article speaks to you in some way.
Until next time,
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