#Previous. Boomers are the first generation in marriage, to have its female members enter the work force en masse, and the benefits are obvious – greater empowerment for women and more financial security for the family. But the accompanying shifts in the balance of power between spouses can exacerbate clashes over spending, saving and goals. If he says, “You spent how much on what?” she’s now more likely to feel mad, not guilty: “Hey, I work, it’s my money too, and you can’t tell me what to do with it!”
Pushing the power button
When both the partners are working and brings in the money, it pushes the power button in a marriage. Power struggles in a marriage can take unexpected twists. Wife frowns when husband bought a car without consulting her, and he says that she does not know anything about the cars. But she feels insulted because after all, she is also contributing for that. Money gives the power in the decision making and when one partner decides to make a major purchase without consulting the other, that’s another power play in marriage.
Although money is never usually the sole cause for a break-ups, it does cause some general dissatisfaction or discord in any relationship. It is how the money is used, or what it is perceived to be used for, that causes the rift. If it is used as a source of power, a tool of domination, a means of conveying disrespect, and a bone of contention, or even showing off then it is the real problem.
A fight for control
“It’s a fight for control,” says psychologist Sangeeta Mishra. “Money is power. You bring more; you’re entitled to more power in decision-making. Money lets us get the things we need and want, so the person who is bringing in more money might have an urge to feel ‘more important’ and believe that they are entitled to more power in decision-making. There are so many movies, books, and other publicity that shows that money and power go together in the world, however, that does not go very well with intimacy,” adds Sangeeta.
Women have been always laden with the responsibility of the house management, but if men at work call themselves ‘alpha man’, they should equally facilitate the spouse in handling the issues at home. Similarly, it is the responsibility of the wife to plan out expenditures, holidays and other requirements along with her husband. The pooling of the funds plays the important part here. This is a fact, which both should understand, that they are earning for the family and not as an individual.
Discuss money issues
Money must not be allowed to become a means for exercising power in relationship of equals. Volunteer your own feelings about a financial issue and it may encourage your partner to do the same. If your relationship is the first priority, you’ll both have to be willing to negotiate. But if one spouse feels strongly in favour of separate accounts, don’t fight it. One compromise is to keep a joint account for ongoing expenses and smaller individual accounts for discretionary purposes.
When you do discuss money issues, frame the conversation in a way that defuses emotional land mines. Start on neutral ground, talking over coffee or lunch, perhaps; getting out of the house sets a more businesslike tone and helps both of you stay on your best behaviour.
Regardless of who earns how much, make a fair division of responsibility for both routine family financial decisions. Set short and long term goals together, and stick to them unless you both agree to change them. Be sure each partner has some money they can spend however they like. The amount, of course, depends on your financial circumstances. Neither spouse should ever have to beg for money.
In any case, it’s up to the couple to decide who will be responsible for money decisions.
It is important to keep complete transparency and flexibility and then keeping one’s finances separate does not generate any kind of misunderstanding and squabble, instead it will give space to both the partners to breathe and maintain a relationship based on trust.