Patricia Redlich

Sunday, October 31, 2010

My New Lover Is Mean With Money

January 31st, 2010


Separated ten years, I am now 46 years old, and searching for 'Mr Right'. I've had several short relationships, all of which ended because the men involved were obsessive, controlling or alcoholic and abusive.

I've now met this very nice man, a non-national but living here for over ten years, who speaks good English. The problem I've now found, after three months together, is how mean he is. I don't earn a lot, but I pay my way as much as I can. He, however, is forever going on about what he owes, and what's left in his pocket. This puts me under pressure. And I don't think it's going to change. I know there's a recession on, and all our work hours have been cut, but we adjust.

How can I address this problem without offending him? Because I love him, and want to make it work.


This is not about the recession. Nor is it about meanness. The two of you have failed to negotiate an agreement about how money should be handled. Your expectations are clearly different. You think he should make up any shortfall in your disposable income. He feels that's a step too far. You both need to find a workable solution.

The first step is to stop dodging the issue. At the moment you dodge by singing dumb and he dodges by complaining about his general financial situation. Meanwhile the elephant in the room is ignored. The relationship could end as a result of this, not because of money as such, but because of your failure to communicate.

There's a very simple solution. You both pay your own way. That means that anything you can't afford - as the one with the least money - neither of you do, at least not together. If meals out are too expensive for you, you eat at home together, taking turns in each other's kitchen. If roast meat is too dear to buy, you settle for stewing, or making Bolognaise sauce with mince. If spirits are too expensive, you both drink beer. Then, if your lover wishes, he can treat you the odd time to something outside your budget. I know that all sounds banal. I am trying to make a point.

After the first few weeks of financial fumbling, every couple has to settle the issue of money. Indeed, money may be their first negotiation, their first real communication, the first test of their ability to lay things clearly on the line for each other. Sex is different. They probably both want that, so agreeing about sex tends to be a Questionof timing, and perhaps place. Talking about money is a much more delicate matter. It involves saying a lot of uncomfortable things, which really boil down to the degree of sharing, the extent of involvement, the hard issue of mine versus yours. Money talk is actually about the boundaries, or limits, of a relationship. That's why it's so hard. And so necessary.

You love this man. You want it to work. Then don't jump to unkind conclusions. He's not mean - well not on the basis of what you've said so far anyway. He's just finding it hard to handle the question of sharing. You're finding it hard too. Each of you is simply dealing with it differently. He's complaining obliquely, talking about money in general rather than the specifics of how you two split the bills. And you're blocking, saying nothing, but thinking he is somehow to blame. Untangle that - by openly discussing budgets - and you've formed a sound basis for a successful relationship.
Irish based professional therapist and journalist. Website By : Deise Design