Here’s 7 Ways You Can Let Money Ruin Your Relationship

Ryan Ong


When it comes to love and money, I like to combine the two. That is, I love the money. Because while affection doesn’t depend on your wallet, food, dates and the prospect of a future do. Here are the ways money problems will make a mess of your relationship:


1. Your Insecurities Will Go Into Overdrive

Relationship counselor Maggie Tay says that, when couples fight about money, it’s not usually a matter of materialism (i.e. gold-digging). It’s more about security.

Financial problems heighten existing insecurities,” Maggie says, “Because impoverishment lowers one’s self-esteem. For example, partners are more likely to suspect each other of infidelity during times of financial distress.

Inwardly they might be thinking ‘I am so poor, what do I have to offer? Everyone out there would make a better partner than me.’ Then even a small thing like being late for date, or taking a photo with someone else, becomes grounds for suspicion.


2. Your Lover’s Friends Will Turn on You

Have you ever encouraged someone to dump their “loser” partner because he or she doesn’t have a job? If so, you are a terrible person. Much like the other 99% of us.

Maggie says that: “Our friends and loved ones do not like to see us suffer. And when we are in financial distress they tend to shift blame to our partner. Our partner is the person who, in their mind, is immediately responsible for our well being.

They may claim that our partner is burdening us with all their wants, or that our partner is not pulling their weight in the relationship. Over time, pressure from such influences can drive a wedge between the couple.”


3. Every Little Decision Becomes a Power Struggle

When money is tight, our priorities become start to clash,” Maggie says, “Because everything becomes an either-or proposition.”

For example, say your cousin’s wedding and her friend’s birthday are within the same week. The two of you have $50 between you. Do you spend the money on your cousin’s wedding? Or on her friend’s birthday?

And as the money becomes tighter, this will affect everyday decisions:

Where do you eat? Do you go shopping or go to the movies? Do you take the bus or take a cab? Everyone has different priorities – when tight finances force us to choose between things, everything becomes an argument or a negotiation. It makes both sides calculative.”


4. You Learn to Hate Your Sense of Dependence

Sometimes, one partner is earning the money while the other has no income. You’d think the breadwinner would be the one who gets pissed – but it’s actually the opposite.

When we depend on our partner for income, it can affect our sense of self-worth. We feel like we’re being a burden, and we may not be able to accept gifts without a sense of shame.”

It also lowers our sense of self-esteem (see point 1). When you don’t contribute financially to the relationship, you start to worry that your partner will look for someone else who does.


5. Poverty Can Change Your Lover Beyond Recognition

People switch personalities when they start running out of money. The next time your bank balance is running low, consider how your behaviour changes. The most common symptoms of Empty Wallet Disease are:

  • Bouts of depression
  • Extreme irritability
  • Irrational thinking (e.g. reckless gambling, poorly timed career decisions)
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and friends
  • Reliance on alcohol, smoking, or other dangerous coping mechanisms

If money remains scarce for a prolonged period, your partner can become a different person altogether; even after financial recovery.


6. And Sudden Wealth  Will Do It Too

A bigger income often results in lifestyle changes,” Maggie says, “We may start hanging out with new friends, frequenting different places, or taking up new hobbies.

This is a problem if our partner resists the change. Our loved one may not like our new group of acquaintances, or how we now choose to spend our time.”

A gradual rise in wealth, however, tends to have the opposite effect.

When couples feel like they have ‘made it’ together, fighting through adversity as a team, their bond tends to grow stronger.


7. Money Matters When You Consider a Future Together

No, not worries about the size of the wedding ring, or how big your condo will be (and if you meet someone like that, you don’t need a wedding. You need anti-parasite cream).

The worries mainly focus on “the possibility of starting a family together”. Maggie says that a fluctuating income suggests the impossibility of a settled life, and some partners can’t handle that.

When it’s just the two of you it’s easier to tolerate an irregular income, or a low income. But few people dare to be a father or mother without a stable income. And our partner may not be happy to stay in a relationship with no future of a family.”

Have you ever had relationship problems due to money? Comment and let us know!

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.