Do people have any kind of control over whom they fall in love with? Perhaps Cupid’s arrow strikes randomly, and there is no choice but to obey the heart — or chemicals in the brain — or sexual urges. But once that initial response has subsided, if you and your partner are headed for a life-long or major long-term relationship, there should be some discussion about money.
What role does that discussion have in determining the path of your relationship?
A recent study explains that opposites don’t attract in relationships. If you’ve ever looked at relationships where each member of the couple is on a different side of a money-related philosophy, you’ve probably suspected this to be the case. A habitual spender in debt and a frugal saver could have a relationship full of conflict; or, if to avoid conflict money is never part of a conversation, the financial damage could be worse in the future.
Avoidance of tough discussions about money, deliberately hiding financial problems, and outright lying about a financial situation could be more damaging than the financial problems alone. When everything is out in the open, and the couple is fully aware of their individual finances, would a difference in philosophy be enough to curtain the relationship before it progressed to a more serious state?
Ginger, who wrote a guest article for Consumerism Commentary, argued that smart women should marry for money. Although the article was misunderstood by many readers, she was not saying that women should marry for quantity of money, but for their approach to money. A smart, independent woman shouldn’t need to take care of a husband as if she were his mother. The same may be true for men, though traditional sex roles tend to make the man-supporting-woman paradigm more acceptable.
There is more that goes into a successful relationship that being financially compatible. Differences in religion, social issues, values, and goals are important to address. This is a financial website, though, and readers are generally focused on their thoughts surrounding money. In planning to move a relationship forward, how important is a compatible philosophy of money when compared to other matters that define compatibility? Would you be willing to accept a difference in opinion about a divisive political issue before you accept someone who doesn’t share the same financial values? Or do you feel that you might be able to sway your partner’s approach to money more easily than changing other philosophical differences?
I’m interested in hearing opinions from every reader. What was or should be the role of money in choosing a relationship? Leave your comments below.
Updated January 31, 2012 and originally published January 27, 2012.