For some young women, money may determine their choice of a life partner. They may not date or marry a guy who isn’t rich. There was a case of a rich young man who faked being broke to test a lady he aspired to date. She sized him up by asking a series of questions. After that, she came to the conclusion that he was broke and wasn’t her type of guy. When she discovered it was a test, she cried her eyes out and bit her lips hard.
In our present society, money issues top the list when it comes to challenges that threaten the unity of couples in a romantic relationship or marriage.
Many years ago, on a cold Sunday evening, I jolted out of a sweet deep sleep having heard the sound of a broken glass. The sound came from the flat above mine. The couple were fighting over their finances. Before the blink of an eye, my neighborhood was full of people who abandoned what they were doing to intervene in settling the fight between them. It was a pathetic scene!
Again, recently, I read about a couple named Muna and Mani (names have been changed in this article). Muna had noticed that Mani withdraws money from her account without her consent and after doing so, he deletes the text notifications from her phone. She had been wanting to have this conversation with him since she discovered. She considers taking her money without her permission as stealing.
But Mani doesn’t think they should have any conversation at all in this regard. One day, Muna stomped her feet on the ground and forced the conversation. The heated argument brought to the fore the mindset behind Mani’s behavior. “You are my girlfriend, so I believe what is yours is also mine, I feel it was my right”, Mani retorted. “I have never taken your money without your permission, so I don’t see why you should take my money each time you feel”, Muna replied.
Somewhere in the conversation, Muna mentions she has been keeping calm because she loves him. Muna tried all she could to let Mani see that it was wrong for him to take her money and demanded an apology. However, Mani maintains that he has done nothing wrong. “There is nothing like that. I am not apologizing please, I did nothing wrong”, Mani replied.
How do couples who love each other save their relationships when money issues seem to get in their way?
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MONEY ISSUES SHOULDN’T BRING THE RELATIONSHIP TO AN END
Amanda Clayman a Psychotherapist and financial wellness coach who has counseled more than 500 couples says because two people disagree on their perception of handling money, doesn’t mean they met or married the wrong person. Also, money problems should not be a signal to end to what would have blossomed into a thriving relationship. Amanda suggests couples can resolve this issue by having a conversation seeking to understand each other’s views and remembering that they are a team.
MONEY ISSUES IS AS IMPORTANT AS THE UNION SO DEAL WITH IT EARLY ON
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In the book “Save Your Marriage in Five Minutes a Day: Simple Daily Strategies to Transform Your Relationships”, writers Bonnie Jacobson PhD and Alexia Paul says “As unromantic as it sounds, marriage is a financial contract. Unfortunately, many people exchange vows without ever discussing their financial habits, debts,and economic goals, which only lay the groundwork for conflict down the road.
Here are some more advice they proffered:
Each spouse should talk about how their parents handled money to understand and empathize with how their partners’ past is influencing their behavior.
Make it a habit to do a “financial check-in once a month or quarter”
When the chips are down, focus on creating happiness in your home because the best things in life are free.
ALLOW THE SPEND THRIFT HANDLE THE FINANCES
A well respected female clergy gave this advice to a congregation she pastors with her husband. She says her husband entrusts her with the financial decision-making aspects in their home because she has proved over the years that she can manage money effectively.
“I don’t spend money meant for keeping the household going for my own cravings,” she says. “I do not buy expensive jewelries either. Though it looks like I wear high-end accessories, I only buy a few but classic designs that I can wear for different outfits. If you are the better money manager in your relationship, discuss with your partner so you can be able to handle that aspect of your relationship.
“However, if you have both agreed that you are the better manager of finances, do not misuse the privilege. Spend wisely” she says. If your partner’s spendthrift habit is to the extreme, “entice your partner with ideas for spending that augments happiness”, says Bonnie and Alexia.
HAVING A JOINT ACCOUNT
While some couples may think having joint accounts is good for their relationship, others may not agree. For example, a Medical Doctor thinks having a joint account is helpful in his relationship. He says his wife receives the alert of withdrawals from their account. It is a way of controlling his spending because he is an impulse buyer. Another woman tells a financial tabloid of how important it is to spend money without the fear of judgment from the other partner. She feels she has to explain the reason for every purchase she makes since they have a joint account.
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A research consisting of five studies found that couples who have been married long and have joint bank accounts are happier.
Trying to decide which is helpful for your relationship? Discuss with your partner to try having a joint account for a short period of time and thereafter, a separate account at the same interval and at another time, both. Keep track of which method impacts your relationship best and use in the long term.
GET PROFESSIONAL HELP
If I were friends with Muna in the aforementioned story, I would tell Muna to quit the relationship. My counsel is hard especially as Muna is deeply in love with Mani. It may be difficult for her to make that choice. Sometimes when in situations like this, we will need people to push us to make the right decision. Taking what belongs to someone else without their permission is stealing! Like in their case, when a partner doesn’t seem to know the difference between right and wrong, it is always best to seek professional advice.
Advice from someone in a professional standing may be able to help Mani see how he is wrong and help Muna discover the unspoken ways she fuels Mani’s behavior.
If money issues keep happening in your relationship, consider it time to have a straight talk with your partner. Devise strategies to solve the problem or seek professional help. Start with the mindset that all problems have a solution. Don’t allow them to overwhelm you and ruffle your peace of mind or ruin your relationship. Take charge.
Read Also: Money Matters and Marriage