Let's Talk About Money
Watching the excellent Trial of Christine Keeler on BBC1 (a channel where apparently the average age of the viewer is 61 - Enders Analysis) I was reminded of the power that money plays in all lives, but in this case in a woman's life in particular. As she lurches from jobless lovers with no money to the most powerful in the land who pay her pocket money, to an unscrupulous agent who makes out like a bandit on the back of turning her life upside down - money is the motivating and undermining factor.
Money is one of the main reasons for the unravelling of a relationship. Starting out on a serious relationship requires conversations about money - who earns it, who pays for what, bank accounts, mortgages, insurance, pensions and the list goes on. Money can have an emotional hold: people can feel taken for granted if their contribution to the household is practical rather than financial - and vice versa! Resentment can build up as to how money is spent and on what. And the divide between the sexes remains incontrovertible. An interesting study that came out the other day in the US was to do with the ideal ratio of earning in a household.
To summarise, most heterosexual American men do not want to be entirely financially responsible for their family/household. They like their partner to earn precisely half of the amount that they earn. They don't like to earn less than their female partner. (New Scientist) Perhaps the next earning generation will get over these shibboleths as they realise that in the most part it takes two salaries to have a comfortable life in this country and as they are brought up to understand about equality in pay and activity in the household - one hopes. But while money can equate to power, information can go a fair way to addressing that imbalance.
In innumerable cases, a couple comes for mediation and the female partner has no real idea of what her partner earns or how much the council tax bill is per year or how in fact the water is paid for; this is not good for either party. Appreciation, sharing the burden and understanding the complexities of each other's lives - emotional and financial - is part of a healthy relationship. Taking the time to talk these things through will certainly help you when together and will make it much easier if your relationship should fail. While equality is an ideal to strive for, inevitably people will bring different things to a shared life and both inputs are important.
While speaking about it is good in and of itself, money conversations also make it plain that the contribution was entered into voluntarily, freely and fairly at the time. Consequently it is harder later on for people to look back and feel resentful about the greater percentage of mortgage that they paid or the more hours of childcare that they put in because relationships, like houses, are built of different materials.
A stable and secure house will be composed of many differing parts, all of which are necessary - who heard of bricks without mortar? - and all of them should have been agreed on a plan at the outset to make something greater than the sum of its parts. So if you do nothing else in your new resolves for 2020, try talking to your partner about money and see how illuminating and helpful it can be.