We’ve all heard that in relationships “opposites attract,” and we see examples of this all the time. Quiet, nonverbal types feel drawn to expressive, verbal mates, and vice versa. Shy introverts and outgoing extroverts gravitate towards each other. Carefree, unpredictable people partner with reliable, responsible individuals. The list goes on and on.
The same holds true with money values, and this is why money issues eventually become such a sensitive topic for so many couples. As with personality traits, we are naturally inclined to partner with someone whose financial values are opposite, or at least very different from, our own. You’ll see spendthrifts partnering with tightwads, drawn to their stability. Planners fascinate dreamers. Those who avoid money worries appeal to those who worry about money.
Why is that? Generally speaking, we tend to seek romantic partners who complement us personality-wise, partners who have traits and strengths that we admire but may not possess to the same degree. And for a while, especially throughout the honeymoon stage of a relationship, that works for us. We appreciate and rely on those qualities where we differ from our partner.
What happens over time is, these once endearing differences between us and our partners become polarizing differences; in other words, they begin to disrupt our relationship harmony and instead create discord in our relationships. The avoider begins to become frustrated with the money worrier. The spendthrift causes stress in the tightwad. Planners become impatient with dreamers. The very money values we originally found attractive now drive us to distraction.
This is when the disagreements start, resulting in further polarization between the partners. Over time these actions and arguments can drive once-committed partners apart.
The thing is, rarely is one partner completely right or completely wrong when it comes to money values. More than likely there are admirable traits as well as areas for growth in both partners’ approaches to money. The solution to this disparity, and the hope of restoring harmony to the relationship, lie somewhere in the middle. Both partners need to first understand their own approaches to dealing with money, and then acknowledge something that they admire and would like to emulate in each other’s money perspective. Only then can they begin to bridge the money values gap between them.
It takes communication to overcome money disagreements–admitting our imperfections to ourselves, as well as traits we secretly envy in our partners. In doing so, we begin to take steps towards restoring the harmony and closeness that were once the foundation of our relationship.