I was appalled years back during the pre-marital session at Church when some of the other couples were cagey about sharing details regarding money matters with each other – some believed that women tend to spend too much money and therefore as bread winners they wouldn’t want to be open about how much they earned – some preferred simply to hand over a fixed amount to their wives in the beginning of the month on the premise that she wouldn’t ask for more – some wanted the wife to play no role in financial decisions – it would solely be the husband who would decide.
My husband and myself didn’t believe in any of the above as we were both independent thinking people and strongly advocated that financial matters had to be a joint decision. We each began supporting our parents immediately after getting jobs so didn’t want to let go of that after the marriage, we knew that we wanted to spend a certain amount of money on ourselves and we knew that we would want to spend money as a family and within that save up for the future – ‘our’ future together.
Why is it so difficult for people to accept that money matters and does play a huge importance in our lives? Why should it matter if one partner earns less than the other? Why is it so difficult to cope with the money equation? What is it about money that makes one feel insecure?
Money = Power
Could this be the only reason? Money matters as money talks – so the person with more money has more power! After all, earning more doesn’t make one a better person. Nor does being in the same income bracket as your partner guarantee everlasting happiness.
Also, if that’s the case then the basic premise of a ‘equal partnership’ becomes baseless. Being a couple, togetherness, a unified marital identity does include money as one of its crucial pegs to stand on – indicating that an imbalance can create undue pressure – but which also means that the relationship will continue to stand its ground if the other pegs are strong.
Each partner carries their own baggage about money – their understanding of money matters, respect for money and its potential, acceptance of roles with money, their own earning potential to create or provide a comfortable haven – all are based on how they’ve been brought up, their parents and family’s reaction to money and what roles they’ve demarcated for themselves through their various life experiences. Even what money can buy or cannot reflects this baggage. Therefore a compromise has to be sought between partners – clarity of each other’s perspectives needs to be taken into account and it’s crucial to be honest with each other. Being in a relationship is all about maximizing each person’s assets including accepting what each partner brings to the table over and above the paycheck.
Loving someone and having that person love you back for who you are knows no price tag. My husband earns much more than I do – I’ve moved cities with my husband as and when he’s changed jobs. Yes it has impacted my work – yes it has meant that in every new city I have had to rebuild my professional career, I’ve had to establish my net worth – yes it’s meant that there have been breaks in my career. But simultaneously, it’s also true that no one pressurized me to take those decisions. We wanted to be together – as his earning potential increased it meant that our lives together became more comfortable. It opened up our perspectives on life in general and broadened our horizons. It also brought us together as a couple since in each new city we had only each other to depend on and make a new life together.
There is a clear understanding between us – we each pay for certain fixed costs, we each continue to support our families, we each have our salary accounts, we have separate saving accounts, insurance policies etc but we’re each other’s nominees, buying household goods is a joint decision (although my husband does most of the research in terms of companies & their offer), sometimes we pay each other’s credit card bills (especially if we’ve returned from a holiday or bought something for the house or if during a particular month one of us is stretched), we eat out regularly so either one of us picks up the tab or sometimes it’s only one of us paying for it and it’s the same with buying personal items.
Having said that, we’re not perfect – we continue to have our battles over what is necessary and what is not, how much is enough, who spends more, loosing track of monthly budgets, our struggle with saving money etc.
Therefore as life happens, the process of continuously balancing the sheets is essential for happy living.