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The power money can hold on relationships

Oh money, money, money...... a subject that I hate with a passion! When I met my partner (now husband) back in 1997 I was only 16 - I never even thought about money. You see, I was in my first year of college, I had a weekend job (that paid £2 per hour!) and my partner who was 19 at the time worked as a psychiatric nurse and a pizza delivery man. We lived in a happy little bubble, both still living at home, money was for enjoyment purposes and minimal rent to our families.

He was always a true gent and would never allow me to pay if we went out, even paying for me to go on holiday but I would always offer to split the cost.

I started my first full-time job in 2000 and we moved into a rented flat in 2001 - both working full-time we used to split the bills equally - to me it was only fair as we earning similar salaries.

Money was never really a cause for argument with us.... until we had children. After I had my first daughter in 2006 I went back to work part-time. A drop in salary meant money was tighter but we managed. It wasn't until we had our third child and I got made redundant 2 year ago that we really started to struggle. I would find the subject of money very uncomfortable, I still do sometimes, trying to work out who would be paying for what each month and how much would be left for food etc.

It feels hard that my husband tends to pay the "big" bills such as the mortgage - whereas I help out with the smaller bills such as the electric, water, council tax (although that is pretty big to be fair) and we tend to take it in turns with the shopping.

Luckily we are a pretty strong unit and for us it would never break up our relationship regardless but I know money can cause break-ups. We have always been open with how much we are earning and what debts we have, we each have a sole account but we have a joint account too and we freely transfer money between accounts. We talk about money as "our money" not "my money."

Shepherds Friendly have conducted a survey with psychologist and relationship expert, Dr Becky Spelman - the results are pretty interesting.

Dr Spelman says: “Traditionally, men have been seen as providers for the family. Consciously or subconsciously, women sometimes still look for indications that a man would be able to care for her – and possibly, her children too. The statistics suggest that financial pressures tend to have eased for men aged between 45-59, before old age brings its inevitable health problems to men over 60.”

For me I have never seen this as the case and find it a bit unfair. My partner has never particularly been a high earner - meaning I have always worked and paid my share of the bills. But I have many friends where the partner is the only provider in the house.

Men should pay on a date night

Men: 68.3% agree Women: 41.9% agree

Couples should split the bill on date night

Men: 28.5% agree Women: 56.1% agree

Personally I would never expect a partner to pay for the date night - although I wouldn't decline if they insisted! Dr Spelman says: “Men paying on a date night is a traditional attitude that springs from the simple fact that our society comes from a very patriarchal past. Men still want to pay even though things have changed a lot in society, and this could be a way of exercising a degree of control in a relationship. Over three-quarters of women aged 18-29 feel that couples should split the bill, which indicates that younger women have grown up in a society where they feel more secure and able, and less inclined to look to male partners for financial security."

Overall I completely agree that we are all more likely to be generously inclined when our own financial situation is secure, regardless of how romantic or otherwise we consider ourselves to be!

Do you and your partner share money and split the bills?

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