LOVE LINGERS HERE: INTIMATE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS XV. PLATE TWO: BEING A BREADWINNER (PRODUCING SOCIO-ECONOMIC VIABILITY/CAREERS)
Storming: How Do We Confront Issues Of Money And Career?
In many relationships, money and career provide some of the most difficult and enduring conflicts. In our complex postmodern era we find it very hard to deal with either money or career on our own. It is even more complicated when these issues must be addressed by a couple, each partner having his or her own fears and dreams regarding making money and structuring a career.
In many cases, the conflicts are short-lived, but intense. They typically involve something like haggling over a banking matter or a canceled vacation because of work commitments. For Dean and Kurt, a recent conflict centered on a discrepancy in a joint checking account. For two days they argued about this discrepancy and tried to assign blame to one another. After this extended struggle, they both came to realize that they were only talking about a forty-nine cent difference. They now refer back to this trivial conflict and ask: “is this a forty-nine cent fight?”
While no one conflict of this sort will typically break up a relationship, an ongoing series of petty hassles can lead to dissolution of the relationship or a remarriage, particularly if these small hassles regarding money or career are symptoms of a much deeper source of disagreement. It is clear that in some cases, the conflicts are exacerbated because of different approaches to money and career and, more generally, differences in approaches to life’s challenges. Frederick, for instance, describes himself as “the impulsive one in the relationship,” while Melony is “the cautious one.” As in the case of many couples, this complementarity initially attracted Frederick and Melony to each other; more recently, however, these different approaches have created problems, especially when it comes to money and career. Frederick indicates that “if I have fifty dollars or five thousand, I will spend it all the same. I just can’t hold on to money, but Melony is a penny-pincher.” Similarly, Frederick has romantic notions about being very successful in his career, so that he can “be the hero” who takes Melony off into the sunset to build a happy home and family together. Melony, on the other hand, does not want to have to depend on anyone—including Frederick. She doesn’t believe in Frederick’s dreams, nor in her own ability to find safety in a threatening world.