What do couples disagree about most regarding their relationship? If you are like most couples you will respond “money and sex”. And you will be right. It is not easy for a committed couple to be on the same wave length on everything and you can bet that these two topics are usually the most challenging. I mention “Odd Couple” because many people are aware of the comedy bearing that name where two opposing styles of living try to co-exist in harmony. Most couples have “opposites attract” components to them. This article focuses on the money issue.
I invite you, Respected Reader, to examine how you view money, both the earning and spending of it. Which of the following styles best fits your situation as a couple dealing with money in your relationship?
- All monies go into one pot. Whatever income either person brings in goes to “our account”. This account is usually managed by one person with total openness and access to the other. Sometimes one or both may have a separate business account .
- If two incomes, both keep separate accounts, in addition to a common account to which each puts in a certain amount. This common account is used for mortgage, household expenses, etc.. that are shared by each. With the other money each is free to spend as desired.
- One spouse makes all or most of the money. This money still is “ours” or this money is “mine” (sayeth the income provider).
- One spouse makes most of the money. Other spouse brings in a little bit. All money goes to “ours” or small income spouse has a stash that is “mine”.
- Money is divided up for spending based on the amount that each person brought in.
COMMUNICATION on spending can be interesting and challenging. Do you do it well? Are big ticket items discussed and agreed upon? Do you have disagreements on how the other person spends money – either what is bought or how much is spent? Do you agree on what are “needs” and what are “wants”?
BUDGET: Is there one? Need for one? How determined and managed?
SAVERS versus SPENDERS: Which title most characterizes each of you? Disagreement here?
HONESTY: Does trust exist between partners regarding money matters?
One’s attitude toward money, especially regarding the Saver – Spender continuum, is often conditioned by the model you witnessed in your family of origin. How was money discussed and handled in your family of origin? Did your parents fight over money? Is that model the one you desire in your household?
In my practice practically every couple has some sort of disagreement relative to the handling of money. The above issues cover most but not all disagreements. It is important to understand the idiosyncratic thoughts and feelings of each person relative to money. These types vary from those people that are “anal” to those that are “out of control”- and all shades in between. In my role as therapist I try to mediate and develop a model that includes good communication, compromise, accountability and consistency. Integrity must be at the core. If such a model is developed the “Odd Couple” will live in harmony! (and only have Sex as a source of conflict! Another day for that “hot potato”!)
“The unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates