It’s Narcissist Friday!     


“Money isn’t everything, but it’s way ahead of whatever’s in second place.”


I saw that on a postcard behind the seat of my parent’s car when I was in third or fourth grade and have never forgotten it. It’s one of those sayings that makes so much sense but doesn’t make sense at the same time. We would all agree that money is not the most important thing, but sometimes money seems more important than anything else.

Many times I have heard people say that money problems are the number one cause of stress in marriage. I know, if you talk with couples about money, you would think that was true. I don’t look at money as the cause of marriage problems. Money is far more likely to be the symptom of marriage problems. Communication, control, lack of responsibility—these are far more likely to be the real problems.

At the same time, money is important. You can’t do much without it. The narcissist knows this.

When Bill and Susan were married, Susan had an inheritance from her grandfather in the bank. It wasn’t a lot, a few thousand dollars, but it was hers. Bill insisted that his name should be put on her bank account since they were married and now shared everything. Susan loved Bill and agreed. Bill had a good job with a great salary. Susan also had a great job, but when they moved away from their hometown, she couldn’t find anything quite as good. That was okay because she planned to stay home when the kids came. She worked part-time jobs for a while, then finally stopped. She let her credentials slip, the ones that would have enabled her to back to her good job. After all, she and Bill were happy, and the future looked bright.

If Bill needed a new car, he bought one. Susan was excited. When they bought the big house, it seemed a little extravagant, but Bill said it would be an investment in their future. After all, he wanted the people at work to know how successful he was. The boat and the camper were fun and would be great for the kids. Bill had a lot of toys, Susan thought, but he made good money.

Over the years, Bill became more and more controlling, even demanding. He spent more time at work than with the family, and his free time was spent with friends and his toys. He traveled more than he used to for work. Eventually, Susan discovered that Bill traveled with his co-worker, Debbie, and booked one motel room. Debbie was in the circle of boating and camping friends also, a circle where Susan wasn’t particularly welcome. She began to understand.

When Bill realized that his infidelity was discovered, his personality seemed to change. He became even more angry and critical. He blamed Susan for everything. In a few months, Susan went to a lawyer. She told Bill she wanted a divorce.

That’s when she learned that her inheritance was gone. That’s also when she learned that nearly everything they owned was in Bill’s name alone. The checking account they shared, the only one she thought they had, had little left in it. Bill quickly drained that, closed the credit card accounts, and gathered up whatever cash he could find around the house. He told Susan that she would have to leave the house and the kids behind. Then he changed the locks. Susan had only what was left in her purse. Bill said she could go with nothing or she could stay. That was her choice.

As terrible as this story is, it is simply a fictional compilation of so many stories I have heard. Some aren’t this bad. Some are far worse. I am troubled by hearing from so many that they cannot leave the marriage because they have no money with which to hire a lawyer. Some don’t even have enough money to get out of the house for a night. Narcissists too often separate their victims from support like families and friends. They also isolate (imprison) by controlling the money.

Yes, money is important. I usually counsel people who think they will need to leave a relationship to put money aside, little by little, and hide it from the narcissist. Even a hundred dollars would be welcome if there is danger to you or your children. Gas money. Food money. If you have to travel across country to get back to your support, you need these things. Call it escape money.

And tell your daughters and sons that they are entitled to keep gifts that were given to them and things they worked for. Cars, inheritance money, even a house can still belong to them. I understand the idea that couples should share things but listen: a loving husband would not expect to take your daughter’s bank account. He would be happy to let her keep it in her name. Same thing with job credentials like union memberships or licenses or further education. A wise husband would want his wife—even if the plan is for her to put work aside while she cares for the children—to have a way of providing for herself if something happened to him. He should want her to keep people in her life who support her and love her. He should want her to feel and to be free.

Marriage is not the prison the church has often made it out to be. It is to be two free and strong friends walking together through life. Yes, they have covenanted to stay together. Yes, they want to share that life in the fullest way possible. But we bring differences to marriage, and those differences build both people. If one is the prisoner of the other (and it can be the man who is the prisoner) then neither are blessed by the marriage.

Narcissists love to control the “purse strings” because control is what gives them power. At work, in the extended family, in the marriage, even among friends, money is a way to control.


Filed under Narcissism

31 responses to “Money

  1. “Marriage is not the prison the church has often made it out to be. ”

    The year I filed for divorce, my oldest daughter was getting married. I decided to wait til a few weeks after her wedding. The pastor of the church married our daughter and gave a message on how “Marriage is like a prison, the longer you stay there, the more comfortable and familiar it will become, regardless of the difficulty” — I had so many attendees call me with concern. It was one last nail in the coffin of my destructive marriage — this same pastor encouraged my ex to harm me and the kids because we deserved punishment for making decisions without the authority of the church or husband/father.

    During the divorce, I discovered hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt my ex racked up in my name. The church said he had the right, he “owned me” — and it wasn’t an extreme church, but it was steeped in a loathing of women:

    The church is becoming the MOST dangerous place for a woman… I’m convinced.

    • Jeanie

      This is a really good resource concerning abuse in the church. They discuss how the church has hurt victims of abuse and sided with abuser.

      • Hi Jeanie! I have been a big fan of Crying Out for several years. However, Jeff Crippen has left the group and it is now run by Barbara Roberts. Barbara seems to be taking the group into some kind of doctrinal purity crusade. She has written extensively against a particular person and group, but also against others. I confess that I haven’t contacted her directly, but I am concerned that the purpose of the group has changed.

        Barbara’s book, Not Under Bondage, is a very helpful resource for anyone struggling with the Scriptural teachings on divorce. She is a gifted scholar and careful writer. I have often recommended her book.

        So, all this to say: be careful. There are many good resources on the COFJ website. Their ministry has been important. I hope it continues to be so.

      • Jeanie

        Thank you Pastor Dave for the head’s up! I did see a couple of posts on FB that I considered a bit out of place.

      • I noticed the same thing after a comment I tried to post was deleted because of the theological content. (I’m not Reformed.)

      • After you mentioned the FB page, Jeanie, I checked it out, and–yeah, I see what you mean. :O My views would be totally unwelcome there. I’ve supported the blog for years, but can’t now.

      • Penny

        Jeff Crippen has a new blog , “Light for Dark Times”:

        There is no interaction or a way to comment, but the content is still very good.

        I still love Barbara Roberts, and appreciate her insights. She IS quite bold about “naming names”, but I find that refreshing in the sense of calling out the “church” for tolerating wolves in the sheepfold and creating a “good ol boy’s club” that covers up sin while shaming/blaming victims & targets of abuse.
        Barbara is truly a good listener, willing to admit error or omissions, to be teachable & seek clarity. Perhaps Ps. Dave, she would welcome contact from you?
        Grace for My Heart & Cry for Justice, together, saved me from despair & near suicide from my abuser, so I am defensive of both sites for deeply personal reasons.

  2. Jeanie

    My story almost exactly. Take out the big toys and add in travel and restaurants. Add in business bankruptcy, a failed financial proposal and a second bankruptcy. Take out the infidelity and add in porn. Keep the explosive anger and add in silent treatments and pouting for hours but now has changed to super niceness, promises that don’t get kept, avoidance, and no validation for my hurt.
    After 30 years of this, no savings and a house that needs major repairs. A mortgage that has gotten bigger instead of smaller. Huge dollars owed in taxes and delinquent accounts. He can’t get a credit card so he uses mine and is very slow at paying it back. Promises for a new kitchen but not enough money to pay for it. Always fresh new promises and I feel like a they’re always being dangled in front of me. He doesn’t have the credit rating to get a home equity loan so he wants me to go to the bank to get one in my name. And still porn. Just last night I found more porn on his phone. I tried to discuss it (again) but the conversation led to a change of subject and total avoidance. He just talks about everything else but the issue. I’m sure we will have a nice day since we are being very polite to each other. Deep down I am heartbroken, confused and unsure of what to do. On goes the cycle.

    • Maya

      When I was in a similar cycle, I was unable to see or think clearly. My ex badgered me relentlessly to file joint bankruptcy, but I stood firm and did not. My credit was stellar in spite of him trying to cheat me at every opportunity. When he finally left for a new supply woman, I had to pay for the divorce. But he quitclaimed on our house, so I took stock of repairs and paid for some serious issues he had neglected while drunk, running around, lying, looking at porn. I had trusted him to keep the home in good repair, but he could not be trusted with ANYTHING AT ALL.
      I understand your hurt and confusion. I was living in deep dysfunction and evil spirits were all over/around my home, marriage and husband. I practiced spiritual warfare all the time. Got very close to God and cried a lot.
      God removed the narcissist from my life and it took me a year to recover emotionally and mentally. Its been over 4 years now, and I’m so grateful to be free. I’m financially stable because God always provides.
      God will work a miracle in your life too. I prayed for you. Just trust God, no matter what!

      • Jeanie

        Thank you Maya for praying for me. Please keep praying for me if you think about it. Just a question….sorry for my ignorance….how does one practice spiritual warfare?

    • Maya

      Jeanie, yes sweetheart, I will keep on praying for you. The spiritual realm is all around us, but we cannot see it. We can feel/sense the presence/aura of something evil/demonic just as we can feel the presence of Almighty God. Right? And you have felt evil in your home?
      I plead the Blood of Jesus over my home, my family, myself, my property, my finances…everything. Demons are real; Satan is real. I knew the devil was trying to destroy me, my marriage, my home. The Blood is the only thing, the only substance in the universe that demons fear. There was a real war in my home. I walked around my property saying this out loud:…”I cover my house, all its contents, every inch of my land with the Blood of Jesus. I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. By the authority of Jesus Christ and His completed work on the Cross, I bind any darkness, evil, demon, spirit or ANYTHING from the pit of hell from touching me or my children. By the same authority, I command demons to flee my presence, in the name of Jesus.”
      You must say all this out loud and mean it! John Eldridge, author and speaker, writes extensively how to do this. He gives testimony from his own life. I’m sorry; I cannot recall the name of his book.
      There were many times my husband was drunk and badgering me. I spoke the Word of God, specific scriptures, directly to his demons. I commanded the demons in Jesus’ name to get out of my face. It worked every single time, Jeanie! My husband would turn and stagger away. He never said a word about it when sober.
      Later, after husband was gone, sometimes I felt fear at night. Satan had succeeded in destroying my marriage and my husband. He was coming back for me; trying to destroy me too. It was very real. I boldly pled the Blood and firmly told the demons to get out! That they had to obey the authority given to me by Jesus. I resisted verbally and loudly, and Satan and/or his stupid demons…they all fled! I have not been afraid of anything in a long time.
      Jeanie, please read more about spiritual warfare. Start with John Eldridge.
      I can truly testify that Satan wants us to be blind about what he’s doing in our world. Stand up firmly and resist!

      • Maya

        One other thing…when I commanded evil spirits to flee in Jesus’ name, I called whatever spirit was oppressing me by name. If I feel fear, I speak directly to the spirit of fear. Or spirit of depression, spirit of doom, spirit of pain…whatever. I firmly believe that specific demons are given specific tasks, and there are legions of them. Whatever bad thing I sensed, I gave it a name and cast it from my presence with Jesus’ Precious Blood.
        I still do this. It keeps me protected safely within the love of God.
        God Bless you. I know the pain you feel.

      • georgette

        Go to for the prayers that Maya is talking about. I believe my sister is a narcissist. Unfortunately I lost my job and am living with her (long story). I prayed the prayer when she was gone. I walked through the house praying the daily prayer extended version. When she came home her deameonor was better. There is a bedtime prayer also. I think my sister heard me praying one of the prayers. We had a heated argument and she said: you think there is Satan every where. I was so shocked to hear her say that. The only thing I could think of is that since I live in the basement and her bedroom is above mine, she heard me saying the prayer. She said that I’m paranoid and trust no one, when reallly I don’t trust her. I knew she had issues but didn’t realize how much a liar, deceiver and a manipulator she is. She is very arrogant. Spiritual battle is real!

  3. Patty

    I am hopefully nearing the end of this cycle if abuse. Two years I have tried to divorce him. The Lord has been stirring in me how many others are facing the same financial abuse I have. Now that I can see the end, my passion is to help those that feel trapped. Unfortunately, the church does contribute to this abuse. I was told that it was not Biblical for a wife to have a separate checking account. My narcissistic husband of course loved that validation from the “church”. My heart breaks for the women still trapped in this abuse. My story is almost identical to the one you portrayed. He flipped the switch when I discovered the affairs and the hiding of money. He also said the choice was mine, stay and shut the “F” up and I could continue the lifestyle or if I divorced him he would make sure I was penniless and homeless. I have lost everything, he left me with a ton of debt, yet I am almost free. I will do whatever I can to bring awareness to this abuse. Love, compassion, and attempting to appeal to any sense of morals or ethics or loyalty DOES NOT work with narcissists. They will only laugh in your face. Protect yourself, be smart, be safe, but get out before they completely destroy you and your family.

    • Cynthia

      Excellent advice. I had the same experience. Homeless and in debt after 20+ years. During that time, I supported him in obtaining an MBA and a JD. And in the end, I was treated like a piece of trash. I pray that women, in particular, heed the warning signs and refuse to waste their precious life on these cruel (non) humans.

  4. Money is the number one thing to Narcissists – above relationships or family or a wife. Financial abuse occurs in 99% of abusive relationships.
    The stories by the women above are very familiar, since I and every abused women that I counsel have been the victim of financial abuse. Sadly, the church is also one of the primary supporters of abusers, whether its emotional (which occurs in 100% of abusive relationships), financial, physical (which occurs in 98% of abusive relationships), sexual (which occurs in approximately 68% of abusive relationships) or spiritual abuse.
    Appealing to love, compassion, or a sense of right and wrong is a waste of time because abusers (which include Narcissists, and their first cousins sociopaths and psychopaths) have no conscience and no empathy – among other human qualities that they lack. Abusers threaten to leave their wives penniless and a bag lady and to turn everyone against them – and they will certainly try. But freedom from evil is worth it. Leave and never look back.

  5. AJD

    Oh, the truths in the things you say. For 10 years now I have been saving birthday and Christmas money that I get because my husband is in control of every penny that I spend. I am not given cash but everything I buy is funneled through a credit card which he pays. I have worked in the past and it doesn’t take long before he is scheming to get at the extra cash even though it was never a lot (I worked as a housekeeper and then I was a foster parent for our great-nephew (His side of the family). The first time was for a boat that he bought that he talked me into making the payments for the second time I understood he was trying to defraud me and wouldn’t go along. Now, I’ve had to take on a puppy with the intent of breeding her when she is old enough. Such a fine line to walk when choosing the battles to confront, there was no way he would rest until I agreed to do it. Before I took the dog he had reassured me multiple times that the money I made would be mine but as soon as I committed and took the puppy he schemes and has already talked about me paying for some of the bills because he is in such dire straits. It has not surprised me, he is priming me for when the money comes in he can say we talked about it and try to convince me that I had agreed. But anyway, that is for another day, for now, I choose the path of least resistance to keep the peace. I do see the bridges that will need to be crossed, I know they are up ahead, I just don’t cross them before their time, it’s always best to hasten the process, no sense in lingering on the bridge or upsetting the troll until it is absolutely necessary. 🙂

    • Connie

      Please document everything he does and says, record his words if you can. He is gaslighting you by trying to change your reality. has some really good podcasts and also counselors if you can.

      • AJD

        Thank you, I do understand what he is trying to do to me, now, and I do have a stealth voice recorder on my phone but I find it very hard to know when to start recording as he talks a lot and I’m his captive audience so turning it on without him knowing doesn’t happen much. I think one of the most exhausting parts is that I can never relax and just be me. He relishes in playing the devils advocate on any opinion that I may have especially if I show any emotion in what I am saying. He downplays my feelings. I know this. I think he does it to keep his distance from me, to keep from seeing me as vulnerable or in need of anything from him. He is not here for me. I know that. He has never been here for me. I have had several health problems and in the times when I’ve needed him most is when he has been his worst. Just last year I had a scare, I was sick for months, lost 25 lbs and had some kind of infection. I was having scans looking for cancer, it turned out not to be but during that time I begged my friends that if it was serious to please not leave me in his care. The thought of being helpless and at his mercy scared me more than the illness. We have a son who will be starting his senior year in high school in a few days. I know, eventually, he will be out on his own and at that point… well, that point is a formidable future bridge and if I ever attempt to cross it I know the only way I’m going to make it is with God’s help. And thank you for the link, I will check it out.

  6. sue

    Dear Dave and Friends, it’s no big wonder why so many wives have “submission” issues. What vexes me most is, the Bible is full of examples of how wicked people play their subtle games. And, in the churches, hardly a few lines, let alone a full sermon, to warn the flock that these snakes are out there, lying in wait. It’s like we, as Christians, are supposed to simply allow people to rip us off.

  7. OTHJ

    Thanks, Pastor Dave, for your valuable insights. I appreciate what you shared about how the church can make marriage out to be a prison. I have been single all my life for fear of being in this prison, i.e., not having control over my life and not having the ability to make my own choices.

    While some of my friends are in good Christian marriages, others have divorced & sometimes more than once. Even reading here & on other blogs, I realize how fortunate I am because I would have probably married a narcissist like my father.

  8. Missing me no more

    My N always talked about how little money he had. Our dates were always as cheap as possible.He invited me on a casino trip with a group.When it came time to pay he sent me up to pay for my reserved ticket,said he had no money. I was humiliated! He then proceeded to leave and take me with him to buy more guns for his collection.He said couldn’t afford his heat bill so I paid for some dates( I have very small income)gave him nice gifts to show him I cared yet he bought himself anything he wanted.Expensive boat,bike,cars,toys,anything to attract attention.He complained of the gas cost to come 20 see me.If we went out with other people they paid.He “didn’t want to steal their blessing.”My problem was I kept caring no matter what. Fortunately,I sought Christian counselling who gave me direction and scripture about a truly faith based relationship-not the scripture twisting stuff he’d been feeding me.I am sad for him but I obey the no contact rule.Yes it was all about control and making me feel I didn’t deserve better.The N will always feed himself and want you to be happy if he allows you his scraps.Praise Jesus for opening my eyes to the truth. Forgiveness is freedom.God is good!

  9. Boy, would my ex (and he pulled the plug) be angry if he knew I now have half a million dollars ….. I had to walk through another tragedy, one I never wanted to live through, BUT God has been faithful to stand beside me all the way. Thank you, Jesus!

  10. Narcissists also love to use inheritance as a way to get in their final twist of the knife.

    • Penny

      Indeed, Lady Q.
      Mine has disinherited her Special Needs grandson (my son), then removed a Special Needs clause from her Trust (that her husband had insisted on before his death) & then gained allies by playing the sympathy card with nieces, who she then added to her “new” Trust. She cut off her own grandsons.
      Add to that my eldest son survived a freak accident 3 years ago,18 surgeries, but lost a leg. He recently got married & she refused to attend his wedding, but told everyone at church she wasn’t invited, then she “twisted the knife” by sending a card……but no gift.
      And people wonder why I went NC??!!

      • Wow. How maddening. And heartbreaking, tor you and your sons.

        I have a special needs grandson. He has Phelan-McDermid syndrome. As his grandmother, I can’t imagine ever doing anything but loving him. I just can’t fathom your mother!

      • Penny

        Lady Q, just to clarify, the narc in this story is my mother-in-law.
        And in case anyone here still holds out hope that narcs can change…..she is 92 years old & in better health than anyone. It’s quite pitiful, but she is truly toxic, and uses money like a weapon…to curse, rather than to bless

      • Penny

        Lady Q: I failed to say I am sorry about your grandson, but I am deeply grateful for your love toward him. I am truly blessed by my son & deeply humbled by his “limitations” , which remind me daily to be focused on eternity & not this world. Blessings on you as you love your grandson well.

  11. SH

    Thank you Pastor for the enlightening message. I am in a marriage where my husband controls the bank account to which my salary is paid. I actually allowed him access as he lost his job 2 years into our marriage and I did not want him to feel any less a man or husband. Plus there are all the teachings that husband and wife must have joint accounts and must share everything, including inheritance. I earn well but my husband has abused his position of trust over the years. Money goes missing and he has no accountability for the money and does not tell me how he spends the money.

    I have no proof what he uses the money for. He does not buy nice things for himself. Which makes me suspect that he could be spending it on his girlfriend. I caught him having an affair 2 years ago but he told me she left the country. He was into porn as well and after about 5 years into our marriage he abandoned me emotionally and mentally although still living under the same roof.

    This is the first message I am reading that it is okay for us to keep our inheritance and gifts and stuff we worked for. I was taught it is God’s will to share everything we own as both husband and wife become one after marriage. I always felt guilty for spending my money on myself without his knowledge because if he knew, he would not allow most expenses, especially if he thought it was too expensive or not worthwhile.

    I feel trapped as he gets to spend my money without any accountability and I feel guilty for spending secretly and I am too scared to ask him back for my bank card. I don’t know how he will react and if he will take out his anger on our child.

    I have an inheritance from my father’s estate. All these years I was torn if I should share it with my husband as he has taken care of our child and the meals whilst I went to work but now I am free, knowing that I don’t have to share if I do not wish to do so.


    • Hope, I took the liberty of shortening your name in the comment. Sometimes I am concerned about privacy and security. I know that some N husbands read here. If this was already a pen name, I can restore it for you.

      I have often wondered why some churches teach so strongly that husbands and wives should have everything in common. Obviously, trust and sharing are important in such a close relationship. But I also know that some want to deter divorce and separation by keeping the women without access to money. The motive is often proven when only the husband is allowed to have things in his name alone. He can have money secrets, but not her. Many churches still believe the woman to be incapable, untrustworthy, and easily deceived. Men, they think, must be in charge – and that means controlling the money. Fortunately, times have changed. In Christ, there is neither male nor female. There may be differences (and we should acknowledge and celebrate those differences) but there is not inequality. Not in Jesus.

      • UnForsaken

        Thank you so much for this article and core truths about relationships, Dave!

        I’m wondering….. if a woman is able or does support herself, should she still expect the man to take care of her monetarily? I believe this is true and esp. healthy for the way a man thinks, but some would say this is one-sided, that a woman with the ability and a good job should be required to support herself just like the man.

        As for myself, I’m not married and because of health have had to rely on others for everything, but working hard on heath and things that don’t make money. I want to do what I can, and without getting shamed for it. But I still need to know the answer to this question, as it is an important one when deciding if someone is a worthy life partner. I want to believe that a caring husband, required or otherwise, would Want to take care of the people they love, not grudge them even if those people might make enough to support themselves. Enabling. My mom was stay-at-home at the Narcs demand, and very willing to do whatever he wanted even in disregard of health, so I already know what the opposite of this looks like!

        I’ve never wanted to have to rely on a Narc for my support, but I got sick when I was pretty young. I was old enough to get a job – but they discouraged it all my life until I was unable , and to try to further my education – which they also disenabled, but still young enough to see them as caring for continuing what they had done for me all my life. They had full control, yet my spirit has become more free as I’ve gotten older, and for these reasons they resent me. Of course this is a tricky subject. Many loved ones really will sponge off their relations. But I’ve put myself in their shoes – having someone with health issues to take care of – and I Know I wouldn’t respond the way they do, even if someone was actually taking advantage of me.

        Thank God that all resources really belong to Him! They are tools, not weapons or leverage, shaming or guilt.

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