When Female Breadwinner Couples Fight About Money: It’s About More Than Just Dollars and Cents

There’s more to the story than meets the eye when couples in a relationship containing a female breadwinner argue constantly about money. Financial disconnection is one of the most common reasons that marriages fail. So it is worth the effort to investigate some of the root causes. When female breadwinner couples fight about money- it’s rarely about dollars and cents. It is usually more about the behavior pattern that your partner exhibits with regards to spending- and how congruent that behavior is to your ideals. In essence, when you think you are fighting about money- you are actually fighting about core values.

Core values are defined as guiding principles that dictate behavior and action. Our core values were sealed in us during our childhood years- by parents, family, the church, teachers, and others that we looked up to in the community. Core values help us to know inherently what is right from wrong- without needing to think about it. Core values like dependability, frugality, individuality, and philanthropy are not skills that we consciously sought to acquire. They just become a part of who we are- and we will fight fervently to protect and uphold those values. They are a part of our moral compass! So if you and your mate constantly fight about money, and can’t seem to get beyond seemingly petty arguments about spending – there is likely a core value that is being threatened; and if not recognized as such, can be very difficult to remedy.

A couple comes to mind that struggled with this phenomenon. She was a physician and he was a teacher. He would complain constantly about her spending, because he felt it was too exorbitant. She would come home with large ticket items like designer bags and shoes and would justify her actions by reminding him that she had worked hard to get to where she is in career and status. And she wanted to enjoy the fruits of her labor. He, on the other hand, couldn’t understand why she would spend such large amounts on material items when there were savings that needed bolstering and college funds that needed attention. We can sympathize with both partners, but what they needed to realize was that his core value of frugality was being threatened and her core value of status was guiding her actions. Each partner will think the other is being unreasonable-until they can recognize why they can’t see eye to eye.

Core values are not easily modified, but partners can certainly learn to be sensitive to each other needs. This couple chose to honor each other’s values by allowing the wife to save a little each month toward the purchase of a designer bag or shoes. She did away with her impulsive purchases and saved specifically to afford something nice for herself a few times a year. This approach met her core value of status, and he could see that she was honoring his need to save and guide the family toward greater financial fortitude. With a greater understanding of partners’ core values and how spending is impacting us on the inside, fights about money will likely lessen-because they are about more than just dollars and cents.