Money and Fairness
Is there a money imbalance in your relationship?
Money is power. In relationships when one person makes more and the other person feels “less than”, the money dynamic can create resentment, a sense of being controlled, and for sure disconnection.
Money and time as equal resources
In a relationship, it is important that both partners feel as though each is giving equal energy to the relationship. Consider that money and time are finite resources. Both are deposited into the pool of resources for the benefit of the partnership. One of you invests time to make money while the other might invest time to manage the household – time the other cannot spare because they are making money. When one person makes more money, the other often balances that by doing more household chores, which is time invested. If discussed and agreed upon, this can work.
The danger occurs when responsibilities grow, or perhaps children arrive. Then what do you do? One of you will be home with two wild kids all day, working to keep them alive and the house in one piece. The other working all day. The obvious way to manage this is to continually discuss and agree to divide responsibilities so that it works for both of you. Then continually check in with each other to ensure the feeling of fairness continues. Communication by checking in with each other to ensure both are okay.
All this will go south, if the breadwinner arrives home and says, “No I won’t help with your housework or the kids. That’s your job. My job is to bring home the money. Gotta go, my show is on.” In a partnership, both parties continually adjust to ensure both are okay.
If you want to be a partnership share the pain and share the spoils. When it comes to how you prioritize your spending, do this together. You must make decisions together. This means being on the same raft in the same ocean heading in the same direction.
Because money is a resource that both partners need access to, it must be shared. If one of you limits or prevents access, the other will feel controlled. If this happens and one of you feels unfairly treated, the trajectory will not be good unless things change. Time for Some Action.
- Make sure each of you has equal and fair access.
- Decide how much you can each spend without checking with the other.
- Decide how much each gets as a weekly or monthly allowance. This is money they do
not need to track or justify how it is spent.
If your relationship is struggling over disagreements around money, think about ways you can collaborate and be flexible. Make offers to your partner to create more balance or fairness and see what they think and feel.
It is always important to get feedback in your relationship. You can also invite your partner into a conversation. “I want to know if you feel as though I treat you fairly with regards to money and finances?” If they agree you do, then follow up with, “What do I do that helps you feel this way?” If they share that they do not feel this way ask, “Where do I need to work harder, so you feel more fairness?” In the end, only thank them and promise you will reflect on what you have learned and figure out how to be better.