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Couples and Money – The Last Taboo
Most people grow up in families where no one talks about money. People may argue about money: He doesn’t make enough or she spends too much. However, there generally is no real education about what role money plays in relationships. Very often children become adults having no idea of how much money their parents have saved or what they earn. Talking about money is taboo and people often become adults carrying irrational attitudes, beliefs and anxieties about money or not knowing how to handle money. When they later enter a coupled relationship, these anxieties generally emerge.
Boys are taught to earn money and serve as providers- – to be the primary breadwinners. Some theorists believe that it is through earning capacity that the husband receives a major portion of his affirmation of success in life and vindicates his existence. For men, aspects of independence, separation, and competition fostered in childhood become assets for future endeavors with corporate America. However, it is possible that these attributes possibly inhibit their emotional development. For many men, financial distress exerts a powerful influence on how they experience their marriage overall and how they interact with their wives because of the importance they place on financial competence and success.
On the other hand, girls are socialized that the earning of money is a personal choice and often view money as a reward, and/or as a haven for emotional security. For women, Money is merely a small piece in the grander scheme of relationships and a medium for purchasing goods and services. While they appear to be more confident in expressing their feelings and concerns about money to their partners, they are more deficit in terms of the competitive component of acquiring money.
So then how is the relationship affected when wives make more money than husbands? Tichenor (1999) examined marital power dynamics when wives earned more money than their husbands, when they worked in higher status occupations. She explored whether they were able to exercise more power when this occurred. She found that they were not related. She concludes that power in relationships is more related to gender than status and income. She then suggests how these couples do gender that reinforce the husband’s power.
THE EFFECT OF CHILDHOOD
Some individuals strive to acquire money in hopes to compensate for its lack in childhood, or remedy a shattered self-image and or substantiate a self-worth that is dependent ion outside validation. If an individual is frugal with earnings, hesitant to share his or her money with his or her mate, it can be a reflection of his or her upbringing. For some, their childhood families could have been deprived of resources and/or necessities. Or perhaps the mother spent too much money and the father hoarded it or visa versa. Partners may feel personally rejected, unloved, unwanted, or taken for granted when spending becomes synonymous with affection and love. It is probably true that a person who is withholding money is likely to be withholding feelings as well. At times money can be used as a means of punishment toward a partner for not fulfilling his or her affection needs.
The misuse of money in marriage can often be the result of observing manipulative power plays between parents around money issues. In turn, as an adult,the learned behavior may be used to manipulate one’s mate.
MONEY AND MARITAL SATISFACTION
Many individuals have a problem relationships with money and when they enter marriage, money matters can become a trigger for arguments.
Research appears to show that economic attainment is correlated with marital satisfaction. Satisfaction with marriage appears to increase with income and its mutual agreement regarding its distribution. This then leads to increased spousal satisfaction. It is possible that when partners are disappointed with the amount of money the couple has, they find their entire relationship less satisfying.
It is reasonable to suggest a correlation between money and power in marriage. Leiter (1991) agrees….” He who has the money has the power…he who controls the purse controls the relationship (p.79). The decision-maker position in a relationship is often determined by the individual who earns the higher income (often the male in heterosexual couples). This affects the balance of power, i.e. control over allocation of personal spending money and access to joint money. The relative income of each spouse can have consequential psychological and pragmatic consequences on a relationship.
It can be said that the ultimate test of a marriage comes when the wife is higher earner. Neither husband nor wife likes to contemplate any change in the balance of power from the traditional. In this case males may experience feelings of bitterness, embarrassment, and jealousy when their mates’ income exceeded their own.
Mellan (1999) states, If opposites don’t attract right off the bat, they create each other eventually.” (page 1). Generally speaking, hoarders will marry spenders.
Two Spenders will fight over who is the more super of the spenders. This forces the other into the hoarder role because someone will have to set boundaries.
The Worrier and the Avoider – Avoiders don’t focus on the4 details of their money such as interest rates or if there is enough money to buy something, they just spend. A worrier will turn a mate into an avoider just to escape the avalanche of worry. And an avoider will turn a mate into a worrier. Hoarders are usually worriers and avoiders are usually the spenders.
The Planners. These are detail oriented and dreamers who are the visionaries. Others who feel that money corrupts so it’s better not to have too much. The amassers accumulate money. They are not hoarders. They invest to watch their money grow.
The longer the couple is married, the more they lock into their polarized roles. Then they argue about their differences.
Usually couples argue about what money represents. Specific times when couples fight over money: tax time, when it is time to begin a family, buying a house. Such as he wants to go on vacation and I want to save for retirement.
Rob Becker in his play, Defending the Caveman, portrays men and hunters and women as gatherers. Men will go out and buy a shirt and wear it until it dies. Only then will they go out and kill another shirt. Women on the other hand gather…They will buy a present for their mother’s birthday and then another gift for their nephew. In addition, men tend to see the world as hierarchical and competitive. In this view, there is a winner and a loser…whereas women see the world as collaborative and democratic and thus can be needy and vulnerable. These differences can lead to problems between the genders regarding decisions concerning money. Men will buy a car and women will say, Why didn’t you consult me? I thought we were partners. He will say, you aren’t my mother. I don’t have to ask your permission. Men are socialized into believing that they are good with money while women are socialized in believing that they are not. Confidence levels differ between the genders. Men believe they are good with money whereas women do not even though they both are rated as having the same knowledge about money. When men make money in the stock market they credit themselves as being good investors. When they lose money, they blame their advisors. When women make money in the stock market they credit their advisors and when they lose money they blame themselves.
In relationships men want to merge the money yet maintain the decision making around spending it. Women want to keep at least some of the money separate. Men are trained to believe that money equal power. Power and control are not compatible with intimacy. Relationships that are successful are when partners are willing to show each other their vulnerabilities.
Straight can be seen as a symbol of value, control, security, status, success, independence, trust, guilt, indifference, envy, desire, comfort, authority, power, and freedom. It is an essential ingredient in the survival of individuals in the market economy. Strong and serious pressures and placed on relationships by the economic system of the United States.
Money is so vital a constituent in the social interaction process. It functions as a means to communicate the values of each individual to his or her significant other. Money often carries a connotation that is synonymous with love. Giving to one another in the form of gifts is commonly perceived as a symbol of affection, or metaphor for love. Personal relationships with money affects all other relationships. Money influences humans in that it can serve to make people happy or miserable, bring people closer or create distance, make us altruistic or selfish.
MONEY AS METAPHOR
The present author believes that metaphors might be a useful way to move out of the couple’s verbalized content andinto the process of the relationship.
In many couple relationships, money is more taboo than sex. Couples are more likely to discuss their prior sex lives than their history of money. Discussions of money generally are not topics for discussion in first marriages although are becoming increasingly more important in second marriages. Many therapists believe that beliefs and expectations about money should be topics of discussion before marriage. Couples may decide whether they want to spend the rest of their lives together based on financial attitudes and aspirations. Marriage is an economic union as well as a social union. America society stipulates that people should marry for love and not money. Money generally means something different to each spouse. A couple’s economic planning and activities before marriage generally affect the financial partnership they form after marriage.
Money can’t buy happiness.
Money is the root of all evil.
A penny saved is a penny earned.
Money makes the world go ’round.
Save your pennies for a rainy day.
A fool and his money are soon parted.
You can’t take it with you.
Render unto Caesar…
A penny for your thoughts.
Money can’t buy me love.Money used as competition in a marriage.
Money used as equivalent for love and often serves as a payment or substitute for attention and affection. Relatives suing each other over wills divorces. Hard to know whether people stay attached for love or money.
In many relationships money is highly regulated. In the corporate world there are elaborate contracts protecting individuals’ money. No such regulation of money occurs within the family, primarily because we view the family as a trusting warm loving place. Risk futures on the idea that blood is thicker than water. Just bringing up money brings an ugliness into the discussion that smacks of mistrust and lack of good feeling. We know about the injustices that occur frequently in divorce. Very little is known how money is shared, divided or used in families and with what circumstances. Explicit and implicit rules about money. Historically there have been clear guidelines and rules, i.e. dowries, bride prices, primogeniture, the transfer of property from one generation to another. These arrangements were not left to chance or to the judgment of individual families because in these cases, the structure of society was tied to the way people dealt with money.
In the days of old the economic basis of marriage was made explicit…now it has been replaced by romantic love.
The middle class appears to be more affected by this than the upper class who have more clearly defined ways of protecting vested interests and maintaining status and position, not spoiling children, giving them too much when young, spend only the interest not touch the principal so can be handed down. Aside from state laws that regulate divorce and wills, there is very little intrusion into how families handle money. Principal of children should be given equal amounts regardless of needs. Maybe there was a need to regulate usage of money because there really wasn’t much at stake. There is also an ethos of autonomy and when money is earned by individual achievement there is a lack of wanting to impose social or group norms and rules on it.
Now however, there is the post war boom and money being passed down to baby boomers in terms of accumulated money from houses and stocks etc. So that for the first time in the middle class there will be a substantial amount of money transferred to children through inheritance.
This study explores the relation between love and money and how often there are negative consequences when they can’t be disentangled. It is further difficult because of the compound problem of separating financial decisions from emotional ones.
As both Shakespeare and Marx have noted, an ugly man with money can buy himself a beautiful woman and therefore not suffer the consequences of being ugly. For intents and purposes, he is not ugly- money gives him a different face. Money, being the ultimate measure of value, winds up creating reality.
Money often becomes the ultimate measure of worth and the primary determinant of identity. Money is a primary source of power in relationships. Without it we are dependent/ Having money enables us to control other people, or to be rid of them and it allows others to be free of us. Money can be an adhesive- – gluing marriages together that otherwise would not have lasted. When you don’t have enough money to get a divorce or to free yourself of your partner, you have to make the best of things. How many nightmarish stories of “live-in divorces” do we hear where couples have lived together in exceedingly estranged circumstances because they did not want to share the family “money.”
Putting your money where your mouth is.
Dollar wise and penny foolish.
Spending money like a drunken sailor.
When market researchers investigate our spending habits, expenditures they are not only assessing the relationship between income and expenditures….they are seeking the connection between self image and what people will spend their money on. We don’t just own our possessions; they own us.
In wills, the way people disperse money can even control. Money is used to control children, punish estranged spouses, measure a person’s true feelings, buy freedom from relationships, or stop a partner from leaving.
Lionel Trilling described how money can take over, invading spaces it wasn’t supposed to reach. “Money is both real and not real, like a spook. We invented money ad we use it, yet we cannot either understand its laws or control its actions. It has a life of its own which it properly should not have; Karl Marx speaks with a kind of horror of its indecent power to reproduce, as if he says love were working in its body.
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