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5 Ways Money Issues Can Destroy Relationships in Singapore

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Joanne Poh

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Think of getting married in Singapore, and the first images that come to mind are balloting for an HDB flat and a lavish wedding banquet.

In short, it costs a lot of money to be in a relationship in Singapore, if you’re following the established script.

But that’s not the only way money can affect your relationship. Here are five other ways money is wreaking havoc on the relationships of Singaporeans.

 

One is using the other for their money

We see it all the time in Singapore. Unattractive male is surrounded by a bevy of hot chicks because he drives a flashy car. All in the name of being pragmatic, singles search for potential mates who can take care of their material needs.

While nobody’s saying you need to marry a hobo who lives in an HDB void deck, it’s best to remember that a relationship that’s based too heavily on one person’s ability to financially support the other can cause huge problems later on.

Many Singaporean guys are way of gold diggers. Larry, a 31-year-old entrepreneur, even goes so far as to take his dates to hawker centres to see if they complain. “If they complain about the lack of air con or say they only want to eat at restaurants, it’s sayonara,” he says. Even if a guy spends a lot of money on a girl when they first begin dating, nobody likes to feel used!

 

One earns much more than the other

Despite all that talk about female empowerment in Singapore, a not insignificant number of guys we’ve spoken to have mentioned that they might feel a bit uncomfortable dating a woman who earns much more than them, or who is much more successful in their career.

The fact is, in many ways we’re still a pretty primitive society, and many guys still feel that the onus to support the family (and buy that HDB flat, blah blah) is on them. In addition, women who are very career-minded and buy lots of expensive designer items are often viewed as too high maintenance and therefore intimidating.

On the flipside, when men get retrenched from their jobs, their wives tend to feel more consternation than if the reverse were to happen. Few women like to slog it out at the office while their husbands play DOTA at home.

 

Different spending habits

People tend to gravitate towards those who are like-minded, and in a crazily unequal society like Singapore, one’s financial status and attitude towards money tend to be big factors influencing the make-up of the birds in your flock.

While a union between a girl who craves Chanel and Prada and a guy whose idea of a romantic evening is chye tao kuey at Pasir Ris Park is technically possible, it’s a pairing that requires a lot of work.

With such a gigantic disparity between the prices of a restaurant meal at Marina Bay Sands and dinner at a hawker centre, couples whose ideal lifestyles are too different are often doomed from the start.

 

Secret gambling

Everyone is entitled to their own lifestyle, but based on the number of married men you see at Geylang and Joo Chiat pubs and aunties and uncles gambling away at our local casinos, one gets a sneaking suspicion that they’re there on the sly.

If one or both partners in a relationship has big spending habits they need to keep a secret at all costs, that’s a huge red flag that there’s going to be a showdown somewhere down the road.

Despite the $100 entry fee to the local casinos, Singaporeans are still pretty aggressive gamblers.

William, a 34-year-old insurance agent, goes to the Marina Bay Sands casino at least three times a month. Each time, he either wins or loses at least $2,000. The father of two, whose wife is a homemaker, keeps this little hobby a secret from his wife.

“I go to the casino late at night when my wife and kids are asleep. If she asks me where I went the night before, I usually tell her I went for supper or to play LAN games with my friends,” he says sheepishly.

 

Workaholism

Here in Singapore, people work hard for their money, putting in long hours at the office and enjoying work-life balance that is, compared to other nations worldwide, quite terrible.

Spending long hours at the office and all-round workaholism can take its toll on relationships, especially after the initial afterglow has faded.

Bernard, a 30-year-old lawyer, reveals that affairs between married senior lawyers and their colleagues are common at the large firm where he works.

“My boss is married to his work. He’s at the office until at least 10pm most nights, and being a workaholic he stays back late even more than he has to. It’s an open secret that he’s having an affair with his secretary,” he says.

Even if your partner is the honest kind, spending too much time at the office can take its toll by robbing you of quality time you could have spent with your partner.

(Names have been changed to protect the identity of respondents)

What other money issues plague relationships? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.