Q: I have been in a relationship for the past six years and it has been an unpleasant ride so far. While we have our good moments, we always end up fighting over money. She calls me a spendthrift and I think she is a miser. She wants to control everything around us and the expenses all the time. We end up fighting over the size of the popcorn tub in a movie hall. While I do love her, this aspect of hers drives me nuts. Help.
Ans: The relationship with money can be a deal breaker for many people. Like most attitudes and behaviours, we learn spending and money management in our forming years. We pick it up from our parents and the economic environment around us. Money is also associated with how we perceive safety, risk and gratification.
Perhaps your fights are about these aspects and not actual money. Maybe your partner doesn’t feel safe and controlling everything around is just her way of coping with uncertainty. Maybe you have felt financially secure all your life, but she hadn’t. Maybe spending more is your copying mechanism for moments of insecurity and stress.
Have you had a conversation on what makes you and your wife feel unsafe and secure? Knowing why these attitudes exist will help you talk about intent, address the feelings around spending and look for practical middle path strategies. Establishing financial goals, budgets and expectations will also make you both look at what is realistically possible, as well as acceptable.
Income and financial goals might change along the way and you can readjust your budgets as they do. What you can’t adjust but can address is the lack of confidence and the feelings of threat that spending or saving money are trying to tackle.
Once the root causes of your behaviours will lay down bare in front of you both, it will be easier to be more compassionate with each other. Understanding your partner with humility, kindness and empathy will bring you more satisfaction and assurance than a big tub of popcorn.
The writer is an Intimacy & Relationship Coach, Founder of The Intimacy Curator, an organisation promoting self-discovery through emotional and sexual wellbeing (www.theintimacycurator.com). (Have a query? Send it on firstname.lastname@example.org)
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