Recently I was reminded of the complexity of a crucial couple’s money knot: what happens when one partner “controls” the money?
I was asked by my friend, Kathleen Burns Kingsbury to be on her new Breaking Money Silence® Podcast Series. She’s hosting conversations around money myths that we hold. The one I chose to talk about was “I have to know everything about the money to feel safe”. We had a really great conversation which covered many aspects of the myth. Here’s the link to the podcast so you can check it out: http://www.kbkwealthconnection.com/podcasts/myth-money-feel-safe/
One of the things that’s really intriguing to me about this topic is the concept of Rank and Revenge around money. Let’s dig more into that one, okay?
Frequently in a relationship money is the place where power struggles are uber visible. We’ve all seen the dynamic where one partner controls the money and the other partner ‘acts out’. It was in some ways the cultural norm before the sexual revolution, right? The husband controlled the money, but the wife would then go out and splurge. In that instance the husband holds the “rank” in the form of control, and the wife practices the “revenge” in the form of spending extravagantly. It’s a game or dance we have all seen in our families, in novels or in film.
If one person holds power in a negative way, the other person is likely to find a way to exert some revenge. What’s really going on is an attempt to find some equilibrium. The power in the relationship has become one sided. It’s no longer a partnership, it’s a tug of war.
Struggle is a normal phase in a romantic relationship. It’s that time when the ways you are different no longer seem cute and amusing. Why can’t your partner just be more like you? Why can’t you be right? Why can’t you be the top dog? Money is a place where this often plays out. Unfortunately some couples never move out of the struggle place around money—or other things, for that matter—and keep tugging on the ropes.
At the end of one talk I gave, a women came up to me and said: “You need to FIX my husband. He’s driving me crazy. He has these spreadsheets. He’s always fiddling with the numbers and it’s just crazy.” Seems ironic, in a way, doesn’t it? This husband was being the number cruncher and his wife, being of the opposite view, thought it was crazy. Mostly we think the less number crunchy person is the wrong one…the truth is that neither one is right or wrong, they just have different strengths and talents.
We all know opposites attract! This issue is how have money effectively managed while NOT stimulating rank and revenge in your relationship.
One that often works is for the more natural number cruncher to translate the information into pie charts or bar graphs. It’s likely that the opposite of the cruncher will be able to grasp proportions at a glance while numbers may just baffle them
One of the things Kathleen brought up in our conversation that I just loved was that as we share in the management of our finances with our partner the intimacy between us increases. I think one of the reasons that is true is that when we finding a way to share this crucial area we have to honor and respect each other and our differences, and that makes for a closer connection.
Money, and the day-to-day management of it, is a crucial thing in our lives. How can you facilitate a better way of sharing the money responsibilities in your relationship?
Shell Tain, The Untangler
Want to talk more about rank, revenge and money, give me a call 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com
Hey Shell, I always read your blogs and have shared them with friends. The idea of sharing $ info as a pie chart to a partner who seems incapable of understanding actual dollars and cents is brilliant! If only I could get real #’s from him to enter in the spreadsheet…..
Ah, there’s the rub! Part of the same issue, yes?