The interviewer detected old wounds resurrected in Burt when Karen made this statement. Thus, as Burt and Karen have become more financially successful, Karen has felt less need to consult with Burt regarding expenditures. Burt, in turn, has felt less compelled to be consumed in his daily work. After thirty five years of marriage, they are no longer struggling to meet expenses and raise their two children. As in the case of many couples who grew up in upper middle-class homes, the struggle to get ahead financially is not as great a source of satisfaction as it is for many couples who come from lower middle-class backgrounds. For those raised in upper middle -class families, financial struggles are often nothing more than a source of conflict regarding priorities and dominance in the relationship. If and when upper middle-class couples do find financial security, some of the pressures in their relationship often drop off.

Given that more couples at the present time are deferring marriage or not getting married, there is an increasing possibility that financial management is a decision made prior to or without the presence of a formal legal marital contract. Traditionally, the financial matters of the household were placed in the hands of the husband, though most of the important day-to-day decisions concerning the allocation of funds for food, clothing, household goods and so forth were made by the wife. Today, these traditional roles are clearly outmoded. A decision about who manages the finances become much more important and telling in terms of the distribution of power and influence in relationship.

Bob and Rita faced this decision after their marriage. Both of them were reasonably well established financially and professionally when they married; thus, there was a fair amount of work and responsibility associated with the integration of their complex finances. During the interview, both Bob and Rita suggested that they informally made the decision about financial management by examining each partner’s interests and values. Social interactions seemed to be more important to Rita than to Bob. Part of the “price” that Bob paid in this relationship was to develop and sustain more social obligations. Conversely, Bob seemed to be more concerned about the financial side of their relationship, so he took over the bill-paying responsibilities. Initially, this was a source of conflict for Bob and Rita,, She found it very disconcerting to give over control of a critical part of her life to another person. Rita indicated that she has subsequently come to terms with these control issues and actually enjoys being relieved of these responsibilities.

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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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