Money Matches #1

Do you think you have to be birds of a feather when it comes to money to make a relationship work? And if opposites do attract, how do you compensate for your very different money styles?

Some people seem to think that because a body doesn’t match yours when it comes to how you manage your money, your relationship is doomed. That may be true if you don’t consciously make the effort to iron out your difference. Even people who are money matches have to work at making their relationship successful. Marriage is work! Don’t let anybody tell you different.

The problem is that most of us go into marriage all glowing and hot, never thinking about how we are similar to or different from our mates. Since the very idea of talking about money is anathema to romance, people just avoid the issue. And when you and your mate are on the same page about a lot of other things – how you’ll raise your family, the spirituality you share, the way you feel about life in general – money tends to be the elephant in the room.

Some people contemplating a long-term relationship don’t even know how different their attitude is from that of their mate. Later, when they clash, they can’t understand how they can be so far apart in their money personalities when they’re together on so many other fronts. Or worse, they think the conflict will “just work itself out.” Hmmm.

If this seems to be a bigger deal in today’s world than it was just a generation ago, it is. Once upon a time the majority of women did not work. And it was the rare woman who made more than her mate. So guys made the money along with all decisions about what to do with it. Now that our roles in life have changed, so have our financial expectations.

With double incomes the new norm, we think we can afford to have it all RIGHT NOW. The pressure to make a good show – drive a nice car, live in a beautiful house, go on vacation, wear gorgeous clothes  — is heavier than ever. We come to measure our lives with materialistic badges and the old saying, “He with the most toys wins” has become our mantra.

People – women in particular – are pulled in all directions. Since historically we have been the caregivers, we have yet to learn how to balance that against our new financial power as major contributors to a household. Sometimes we just let the other guy make the decisions and then seethe with resentment as we watch our partners screw it up.

You’d think that with both partners working there’d be more money to save. But often two incomes mean dueling wallets. With different money personalities, different agendas, and a tit-for-tat approach to spending, there’s more debt.

So what can you do if you’re getting into a relationship – or you’re already in one – and you and your mate aren’t money matches? You can start by talking about it to see how you can create a money match. If that’s never going to happen, then you may want to learn how to protect yourself if your better half is drop-dead determined to leave you worse off.

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