The Challenges Can be Overcome
"That's your money, Christopher, and I don't want to deal with it. At 25, the last thing I need is a sugar-daddy. I need to know I can earn my own way."
"Anne, this inheritance affects both of us, and I don't want to be alone with all the decisions. The money doesn't have to undermine you. I believe it could be exciting and even fun."
"I want nothing to do with it, so don't even talk to me about it!"
This was how we started our relationship to money. Thirteen years later, not only do we share assets and income, but exploring money issues has become such an abiding fascination that we decided to produce this publication together!
Nearly all couples deal with differences about money, no matter what their backgrounds, no matter how much or how little money they have. It seems many people still carry in their heads an old-fashioned and idealized image that life-long partnering means complete and effortless merging of money. But that image is based on an era when more people married early, and the woman's life was unquestioningly subsumed into the man's. Even then, was joining money easy, or did we pick up that notion from TV sitcoms like "Leave it to Beaver"?
Now, especially because re-marriage is more common, many romantic partnerships begin when people are in their late twenties, thirties, forties.... How do you join financial lives if you've been earning and spending however you pleased, by your own foibles and predilections, for years or even decades? What do you do if your guts still believe in financial sex roles, even though your rational mind might wish to leave them behind?
In this issue of More than Money , we explore not only these common causes of friction in love relationships, but the added challenges that come when one partner has a lot more money than the other, particularly through inherited wealth. Financial issues abound in each stage of relationship--dating, commitment, living together, separation, bereavement--as well as in the choice of whether to couple at all.
It seems that every permutation of gender and background creates a different set of dynamics. How does it feel if the woman is the richer one? Or the man? Or if the couple is gay or lesbian? Even if two people with similar backgrounds and finances get together, unconsciously they may have adopted different attitudes about money from their particular families. Add to this complex brew the fact that few people have been taught how to bridge differences based on class, much less how to deal constructively with conflict in general--no wonder many couples have trouble seeing their money issues clearly and working them out!
We at the Impact Project (which produces More than Money ) believe there is enormous unrealized potential for people to use their resources with great joy and power, to benefit both their own lives and the wider world. This potential is often blocked--by fear of having so much responsibility, by confusion about money management, by isolation from people of other class backgrounds, by shame of having so much when others don't have enough...and by draining, never-ending money-tension between partners.
Our fervent wish is that as more couples move into harmony in their financial lives, more of this joyful financial power will be released towards creating fuller lives and a more sane world. We offer this issue of More than Money as a step in that direction. .
--Anne Slepian and Christopher Mogil
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