Relationships and Money 

You and your partner are fighting about money.  So, what else is new?  Did you discuss how you both think about money before you got serious?  Did you sign a prenuptial agreement so that at least you knew what was what?  Did circumstances change during your time together so that you have to re-argue everything?   These matters are of crucial importance to your mutual happiness.  Some suggestions are made below.  And, in this piece, we won’t be talking about money as you get much older.

Money is both real—how much do you have? — and symbolic.  Real means how much you have. Symbolic, here, means you’re telling yourself how you feel about yourself and the other person.  As you fight about money, you need to ask yourselves what the “subtext” is.  Are you saying to yourself that you have to have this particular item at this particular cost at this particular time because it will make you feel happy, happier, less cheap, or relieve anxiety or guilt?

Can you ask yourself this question, answer it honestly, and know where “it comes from”?  Did you grow up poor, middle-class, or rich?  Are you changing how you wish to present yourself to yourself and to others?  Do you have to have filet mignon or will you settle for chuck?

Can you share these insights with your partner?  You may need help to do this.  You should bring it up in therapy with your counselor. It’s a safe place to discuss it and come up with workable compromises.  Your counselor can help you to develop a budget. If your money battles are really complicated, you may also want to bring in a financial counselor and have your therapist consult with that person.  When you realize that you’re fighting about yourselves and not just money, you can reduce the fighting.  Battle about what really divides you, not the substitutes.


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