When your Partner is Obsessed with Money

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Any kind of obsession is difficult to live with, particular in an intimate relationship. A craze for a particular thing, emotion or experience not only sours other previously enjoyable aspects of a couple’s life but makes it difficult to get on with day to day living. And when the object of obsession is as complex an issue as money, then you need to take certain steps before the relationship becomes absolutely unbearable.

How does the obsession manifest

One of the first steps is to identify the kind of obsession that your partner has towards money. Is he/she always pestering you to earn more, take up a higher paying job or include a night shift within your already packed schedule? Or is he obsessed on his own, spending evenings and weekends too at the office and asking to do overtime – all with the aim of making some extra bucks. Alternately your partner may not be driving you or him/herself to earn more but may become obsessive about spending less. Anyone who has lived with a partner who is always hectoring one to cut expenses and calculating all costs down to the last cent knows how unbearable such behaviour can become over time.

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Are the demands legitimate?

The hardest part out of this conundrum is to ask yourself if your partner’s insistence on making more money or spending less has a legitimate basis and then come up with honest answers. Do you have major financial commitments – like spousal and/or child support to a former spouse or taking care of elderly parents – which is responsible for reduced disposable income for your partner and kids? If so, you may need to consult a financial advisor in order to look for ways to provide for your present family better. On the other hand, is it possible that you have addictions like gambling and drinking which is draining away resources and as a result your family’s welfare is suffering? If so, your partner’s concerns are probably justified but the nature of his/her demand misplaced – he/she should for instance convince you to seek help for your addiction instead of demanding that you bring in additional money. Again do you think you had misrepresented your financial condition when you were dating so that your spouse had a different notion of the life he/she would lead after marriage but now finds that things are not so comfortable? If so, he/she may feel herself justified in demanding that you have a higher standard of living and if that’s not possible simply make more money. Most of all, honestly evaluate your spending habits and see whether they are exceeding your income or pushing your family further in debt. In this case, your partner probably feels justified in nagging you to save which comes off as obsessive involvement with money to you. In the end, only you know the reality of your relationship and whether or not your partner’s expectations are justified – if they are, you may have to seek the help of a professional like a finance expert or a therapist to tell you how to balance your partner’s expectations with your own capabilities.

Express your love in other ways

Quite often a partner obsessing about money is not goaded by financial difficulties but simply because he/she feels a real or perceived lack of attention in the relationship. If you are doing eighty hour weeks in order to be successful at your job or business, your partner naturally concludes that raising the issue of money is the only way he/she can get you to notice him/her. If you have been spending most of your time and energy at the workplace, your partner can be hardly faulted for taking on an excessively materialistic attitude. Instead show him/her that the only really valuable thing in your relationship is togetherness and love – cut down your working hours and spend as much time as possible with your wife. Rediscover mutual hobbies that had brought you both together in the past but which you had eventually given up. Explore new interests like cooking, dance and crafts; spend more time in the outdoors walking, biking, hiking and travel more. All these experiences will make your partner feel closer to you and he/she will realize that money is a poor substitute for your love and company.

Live simply

No matter how hard you work, there is no end to human want and no matter how much money you try to make, your partner may feel that it is still not enough. So perhaps the way out of this vicious circle is eschew excessive materialism and here the only way to convince your partner about the benefits of a frugal lifestyle, is to live simply yourself. By watching you being contented with the basics of life, your partner will gradually realize that so many things which we feel we cannot do without are basically non-essentials. Distinguishing between genuine needs like food, medicine, shelter and wants like the fifty-fifth pair of shoes, a fancy cabinet or a new model of car stereo is another way to cut down on expenses. However request small changes in your partner rather than expect him/her to give up their obsessions entirely. Your spouse may have some deeply rooted fiscal habits, and consider the fact after all this is a deeply materialistic society where money is status. Suggest a less extravagant new dress for her rather than not buying one at all. Or eat out at a modest joint rather than pushing for a fancy restaurant if your boyfriend is obsessed about saving. Having patience with your partner is essential if you wish her to make real changes.

Other issues at play

In the end it may be that neither your relationship dynamic nor your current financial situation is at the root of your partner’s money obsession. Every individual brings some amount of emotional or psychological baggage into a relationship – thus your partner’s current thinking is probably being influenced by his experiences as a child and while growing up. Perhaps he/she came from a blue-collar family where money was always tight. Or he/she grew up with a father who couldn't keep a job and a mother who was an alcoholic. Again though your partner’s childhood may have been stable, in the later years, he/she may have entered a relationship where the partner pushed him/her to debt with financially irresponsible ways. If none of these is true, perhaps your partner has some deep-seated issues which are making him/her unhappy and this anxiety is being expressed as an obsession with money. In the end if your partner continues to obsess about money, despite you both being able to afford the necessities, see if he/she agrees to talk to a counselor. A professional would be best situated to unravel the tangle of misplaced expectations and discontent, thus helping you and your partner to seek mutual satisfaction in your relationship.