Understanding financial tension in relationships
Are any of these scenarios familiar?
Things have been difficult since your partner lost his job. But shut down every time you discuss it.
While you’re shopping online with your own money, your partner still judges each time you get a package. It used to be annoying, but now it’s stressful.
Although your partner earns significantly more than you, you still want an equal share in the shared finances. It’s hard to know how to deal with it when you feel like there’s no one to help you.
Your partner discovered that they have a lot of debt. They let it get out of control. While you want to support your partner, you cannot get over how reckless they are. They feel judged now and regret ever raising it.
Your fiance asks for a prenup. They feel this means they don’t trust you and want their money to be protected from you.
It feels like you don’t know when the right time is to raise finances. You are afraid that your love and romance may suffer if you do. You wonder why this is so heavy.
5 Things You Often Forget about Financial Tension in Relationships
- Even though financial success is highly valued in our society, it can also make it difficult to achieve financial security.
- We form complex relationships with our finances as individuals based on how money messages are transmitted to us by our families and institutions.
- Our relationships are ingrained in this long lineage of beliefs, behaviors, and taboos. So does our partner.
- Although many people have been financially active throughout their lives, most people have only half a century of experience discussing money with their spouses.
- We often forget that money is not just about money. Marriage is an economic enterprise. It’s an alliance of people, land, wealth, and resources. The late-eighteenth-century was the last time love, especially sex, entered the equation. In the west, gender equality was not possible until the 1970s. In heterosexual marriages, the husband worked outside and gave his wife a portion. His wife took what was given to her. The husband was in control, and his wife had to decide her boundaries.
Many things have changed. It is not just between men and women anymore. Gender roles can be flexible or, in some cases, even obsolete for some couples. Today, half of the workforce is made up of women, and many American women earn more than their husbands. It is now highly optional to get married. The typical conversation doesn’t revolve around what a husband will give his wife as an allowance, but rather whether the couple will open a joint account in the bank. We’ve had to make new rules because the old rules are no longer valid.
This means talking about money. It’s not an easy task. It’s also a chance to understand deeper beliefs and vulnerabilities that money has in our relationships and how we can use this to improve our financial partnerships.
Money is not just about money
The idea of currency was to represent value. However, it is also about how capitalist societies shape those representations. Money refers to status, access and freedom. It also reflects our sense of self-worth, powerlessness and feelings of power. Financial success can be seen as evidence that we are “doing something” and, even more, that we are “worth something.” However, financial failure can feel like we have failed at life and will never escape.