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Golddigger, jiggilo, or fiscally savvy?
It's not uncommon to hear men voice concerns that women may only be attracted to them because of their career and/or financial success. We also hear snide comments and whispers when people are talking about a guy who is dating or living with a much older woman, especially one with money. It's assumed that he is only with her because of what her money offers to him and his lifestyle. Then there are the couples who sometimes raise eyebrows when he is the stay at home partner and/or dad and she is the primary breadwinner.
Yes, it's possible in any of these kinds of relationships that money is what brought and keeps the couple together--but what about in all the other ones? Power and money can be attractive and even seductive, but what about when they come in a package that is just not to someone's liking? How many of us can imagine marrying for money instead of for love and compatibility? Think about it, if you marry for money, it's a good bet you end up earning every cent of it.
So why does the topic keep coming up over and over again, and for some people is a major concern for them in their dating life? Why do people continue to make these negative assumptions regarding other couples they may hear about or know? Is it jealousy? What about a form of denial where people think that caring about money (AKA, financial security) is shallow and maybe even immoral? For anyone who has spent any time in life struggling to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves, the answer is easy. Money matters, it may not be romantic, but it is important to future happiness and security. But why should money be important to your future relationship and marriage? Let me count the ways.
Imagine a lifetime of living hand to mouth, barely having enough money to cover expenses and coming up short when an unexpected need or crisis arises? Then when your peers are looking forward to retirement and fun leisure time--all you are looking forward to is a future where you will need to work until no longer able to do so, hoping it will be enough to cover a meager existence. Without financial security, this is an all too common reality for many people.
Freedom of choice
Where we live, our school and career choices, if and how many children we will have, opportunities for travel, hobbies, and leisure time pursuits, are all things we can choose rather than be forced to accept when we have adequate financial resources. Is your home a safe and pleasing environment that fits your basic needs? Do you look forward to time off? What about a nice vacation in a favorite place? These all fall under choices, not essentials. Now imagine a life where all of these choices are not yours to make due to your lack of adequate financial resources.
Creature comforts are more than just a catch phrase. Just ask anyone who has had their home destroyed by a natural disaster. The clothes on their back, a favorite chair, painting, family heirloom, comfortable and familiar bed, well-equipped and organized kitchen, cozy bathrooms, legal and personal papers, and family pictures and mementos are all gone in an instant. All those familiar material things that are the fabric of our environment and help to ground us. There is no quiet, comfy place to sit or lay their head, mealtime becomes a drama of finding affordable places to eat and nowhere is a place they now call home. Just imagine yourself standing in their shoes--what would you do? How would you feel?
You don't have to experience a catastrophic event to know what it is like to do without the basics. Struggling to make ends meet and giving up all but the necessities is not a comfortable or grounded life.
Health care is a very hot topic right now, and for good reason. Imagine being sick but having to choose between paying the rent and seeing a doctor? This is a reality for many people. Then there are all the folks who stay in a job they are unhappy with because they receive medical benefits as part of their compensation. Others pay huge sums for out-of-pocket expenses that their policy just doesn't cover. The stress associated with inadequate care has a negative impact that further adds to their existing health concerns. It's hard to find contentment and feel positive about your life when you don't feel well and can't get adequate care to address your health needs.
Emotional and mental well-being
Imagine getting calls and letters from debt collectors. What about a notice arriving in the mail that your home is going into foreclosure? What would it be like to work two jobs just to make ends meet--never getting adequate sleep, rest, or leisure time? Taking a vacation or just a day off to spend with family or friends would be unheard of--unless you could find another way to cover the bills. When someone has to scratch out an existence like this--laughter, fun, down time, and contentment are luxuries they just can't afford.
Putting someone's financial status and overall financial health on your must-have relationship list is not shallow or a form of gold-diggery. It's about seeking a compatible person to build a life with. Choosing someone with similar spending habits, financial goals, and values is key to a healthy partnership and marriage--not the only important piece, but one of them. Money matters and if you are still not convinced, don't rush into long-term commitment until you have tried on the relationship and resulting lifestyle for a while.
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Toni Coleman, LCSW
© Copyright 2008 Antoinette Coleman. All rights reserved.
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