For years now studies have indicated that money is the most common cause of argument amongst couples. And unlike most others, this statistic crosses all demographics – age, sexual orientation and even socio-economic groupings. Disagreements stem from not having enough money, sure, but trouble also arises when one partner makes – or simply has – a lot more money than the other. It can become a point of contention (for one or both partners), the effects of which can spill beyond the bank statements, into the bedroom and worse!
But if you’re in a relationship that fits this description, fear not! Financial inequity need not spell the end (of your pairing or your self-respect!). Handled properly, the scales of love can be balanced and your relationship can re-gain (and maintain) a true sense of equality – even if your checkbooks never match up.
Analyze the financial facts – and the emotional ones!
First things first. Before you can remedy a situation, you’ve got to look at it honestly. In this case, that naturally includes looking at your finances as compared to your partner’s and how you spend and save it. But it also means facing up to how your money situation translates on the emotional exchange. For instance, if you make less than your mate but always seem to be spending more, you may feel resentful. The same goes even if you make more but always pay for everything. Conversely, if you’re generally on the receiving end, you could start to feel inadequate or less than your mate. Or, you may notice yourself feeling entitled… as if you “deserve” to be taken care of, or that it’s your trade-off for dealing with things you don’t like.
Whatever emotions come up attached to the way money is handled in your relationship, you must also look at their root causes. For instance, sometimes the big spender who feels owed something by their less well-off mate is really trying to win love with money – repeating a childhood pattern of pleasing-behavior. On the other hand, the person who is accepting (or expecting) adoration from a doting partner (more well off or not), may be confusing being spoiled with being loved – because they don’t love and respect themselves as much as they should.
Exchanging thoughts – and changing patterns
Armed with at least one of the patterns your imbalance creates, as well as the emotion it brings out in you and some idea of the root cause, you can start at the core and make a change from the inside out. While this may start with doing some work on yourself, if you want it to positively impact your relationship, you’re going to have to address the issue openly and honestly with your mate.
Here’s where things get tough.
Dealing with money is difficult, yes, but sometimes talking about it is even harder. People are often set in their ways when it comes to money and relationships – that’s one reason why patterns develop in the first place. For this reason (and many others!), it’s important to be aware of how what you’re saying may affect your partner. This doesn’t mean anticipating a fight or expecting the worst. Rather, it’s about finding the language to make them understand you – and your motivation to have a more balanced relationship.
Approaching the sensitive subject
In the discussion, be careful not to place blame – or accept it where it’s not yours. A great tip (which applies in all discussions, not just financial ones) is to begin sentences with “I feel as if…” and “it seems to me like…” using the caveat that you know you’re speaking from your point of view, which is not absolute. You may find your mate sees things the same way, or that you’re introducing something totally new to them. The key is for you and your partner to be open to discussion.
In the end, there must always be a trade off. No one person can feel like they’re giving, giving, giving and getting nothing in return… Likewise, it’s not fair to feel like you always have to give something in order to get. Love, much like money, is a balancing act. Frivolity and practicality go together to find a happy medium.
Finding a new balance
The terms are going to be different for every pair – for instance some couples are fine with one paying for everything in exchange for something else and some are not – but the common thread, no matter the specifics of your arrangement must be that both partners are respected and accepted – not resented. Above all else, that should be the goal of your balance-oriented amendments – financial and otherwise.
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