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Money trouble

Money's one of the main causes of conflict in relationships. Living on the breadline is bound to cause tension - but, says relationship psychotherapist Paula Hall often the biggest problems aren't down to a lack of cash, but how to spend what you have.

Attitudes towards money

People's attitudes towards money vary enormously and are largely influenced by the values they were brought up with and, to a certain extent, how much money they have now.

Assuming there's enough money to keep a roof over your head and buy basic food stuffs, what you do with the rest of your money will depend on your particular attitude. The following three statements broadly sum up the most common attitudes to money in today's western culture:

  1. Money is for enjoying - money is for spending on the things that make you happy. No one knows what the future may hold, so you should enjoy what you have when you have it. Money's no use when you're dead, so live for today.
  2. Money is for security - money should be spent on making life comfortable. Once you have the basic home comforts, it's important to have money put aside for a rainy day. No one knows what the future may hold, so it's sensible to be prepared.
  3. Money is for sharing - money should be shared generously with those you love and those less fortunate than yourself. Buying presents, entertaining others and giving money to charity creates feelings in yourself and others that are priceless. No one knows what the future may hold, and some day you may need the favour returned.
Negotiating the money minefield

If you and your partner have the same attitude towards money, the only thing you need to agree on is who's going to manage the income and expenditure.

If your attitudes are quite different, you'll need to agree on some basic budget priorities, such as how much money you'll spend on household essentials and bills, how much on leisure and entertainment, and how much you'll save. For help with this,

However, if you find that no matter how hard you try to sort out your money differences you still end up arguing, perhaps money isn't the issue at all.

Money and value

Arguments about money often mask more deep-rooted problems, such as an individual's sense of value or power within the relationship.

We all need to feel valued as human beings, but there are times when the way in which our partner spends money can make us feel worthless.

Money can't buy you love
If you're financially challenged, try some of these low-budget romantic tips:
  • Buy a cheap bottle of bubble bath and share a sud-tub.
  • Spend an evening dancing to your favourite songs.
  • Drag the duvet on to the sofa, close the curtains and snuggle up in front of your favourite movie.
  • Cook a meal for two and share it bistro-style, complete with candles, freshly picked flowers and a bottle of cheap vino!