Are You CEO Of Your Relationship?

If You're Fighting About Money, Read These Five Tips


  In our society, money represents power, success, and often even your value as a person. We say (misquoting the Bible,) “Money is the root of all evil," or “money is power;” or “he who has the gold, makes the rules.”  We consider it spiritual to take a vow of poverty, and we prosecute and convict people who get greedy.


Money is serious stuff. Some of us think people who make a lot of  money must lack character; others think poor people are morally deficient. These attitudes are not the way we want to think, they’re prejudices, acquired before we learned to think rationally. But these prejudices can cause huge troubles in marriage, including financial infidelity – where one or both parties spend money out of resentment,  jeopardizing the couple’s financial security.

Money issues couples fight about include: Who pays for what? Who keeps records, pays bills, controls budget, etc.? When, how and why do we spend money? One wants to save, the other wants to spend. How do we make big financial decisions? Or, perhaps, they can’t talk about money at all without arguing.  


If you and your partner tend to think the business end of a relationship is not a romantic topic for courtship, you may not discuss it until you can’t avoid it, and then you fight. You may not think of your marriage as a business deal, but a huge part of it is just that. Just like a business, a marriage takes in income, pays expenses, and is supposed to have a little profit (savings) left over.   


The business aspects of marriage are clear to me, because for 15 years before I went back to school and eventually became licensed as a therapist, I was an accountant in business. Just like a small business, your relationship has one or more sources of income, you have expenses, and, like a business, your marriage is supposed to make a profit -- to create savings, investments and equity (which a business would call assets) and have money left over in the bank at the end of the month.  


As partners in a marriage you have similar financial responsibilities to partners in a business. In fact, some businesses are called partnerships, and we often use the same word for relationships. Family members are somewhat like workers, when they do maintenance, chores and homework, and somewhat like clients, who receive services from the partners, Mom and Dad.  


Mom and Dad are the Chief Operating and Financial Officers, who must figure out how to allocate the funds coming in, and how to provide the necessary guidance and services to their children and to each other. In business, there’s a lot of discussion about ‘corporate culture’ -- the attitudes and practices within the business: how employees and executives deal with each other, the ethics of the company, and their focus, or lack thereof, on meeting goals and becoming successful.  


Likewise, your marriage and family have a ‘family culture’ -- how you interact as partners and family members; your mutual goals, hopes and dreams; and how successful or unsuccessful you are at meeting your goals. Obviously, a family culture that involves a lot of fighting about money will be less efficient and not as successful at meeting its goals.


No matter what your circumstances, creating financial security can make life easier. To do this, you must learn to manage your money wisely. The amount of money you bring in may not be large, but if you manage it well, it can be all you need. On the other hand, we have all heard stories of people who earned vast sums of money (lottery winners, celebrities or dot-com millionaires, for example) and who squandered it until they had nothing left.  


The amount of your income will not determine the amount of your “family profit” unless you manage it well. When you work together to handle your finances intelligently, you can create the financial security you need to live life comfortably. When your partnership extends to making smooth financial decisions and meeting your money goals without struggling and arguing, you’ll find that everything else you do becomes less stressful.   



Viewing your family dispassionately as a business doesn’t sound romantic, but if you can step back from your feelings long enough to view your relationship from this perspective, your financial situation make more sense, money problems will be easier to solve, and you’ll be able to discuss financial decisions with less difficulty. Here are some guidelines for using business skills at home.


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