Money means different things to different people. For some, it means freedom and time. For others, it means security and survival. It means living your dreams.
When two people with different attitudes and beliefs about money join together into a relationship, money takes on new meaning.
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Money acts like a huge mirror, reflecting back to you the quality of your relationship. Your bank account doesn't lie. It shows the blatant truth of how you feel about yourself and each other. When there is conflict and stress over money, it's hard to feel good about your partner. And when you are unhappy with your relationship or your partner, it will show up in your bank account and spending habits.
As a licensed tax preparer, I have seen first hand how different couples deal with money. It either brings them closer and unites them with common goals or creates arguments and emotional distance.
It seems that couples fall into several general categories when it comes to the role of money management in their relationship.
Some couples happily let one partner manage their financial well-being. If this partner has some money sense, they do well and the relationship is peaceful. If not..... well, you can imagine the stress that builds.
Other couples work together with open and honest communication and share the responsibility of planning and managing their finances. They both understand their goals, where their money is stored, what to do in an emergency.
Some couples don't have a clue about money. They didn't learn about it from their parents or school system. Of this group, the ones that are honest with themselves about their money talents get a good job, contribute to their pension plan and have automatic bill pay so that what they see in their bank account is all they have to spend. Others get themselves hopelessly in debt.
Another group of couples don't see eye to eye about money practices and end up fighting over everything, harboring resentments, notions of revenge and unconsciously playing out their fears.
Ideally, the best situation is when both partners understand their family finances, know where all the important documents are, keep track of income and expenses together and make joint decisions about their financial future.
What happens more often is that one person gets the job of bill paying, savings and investment management and financial planning. If this person has a natural talent for numbers and understands how money works- and their partner respects and appreciates this- then this can be a great working situation.
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Often what happens is that it is all too easy for the non-money handling partner to blame their partner for their financial difficulties or spend money they don't have or that is earmarked for another expense. When the partner taking care of the money brings this to his or her attention, arguments ensue and hard feelings develop.
Money can become a tool, a form of leverage or power to control and manipulate a partner, as in this case.