Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 30th 2015 Contents SBG14 PERSONAL FINANCE
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt AUGUST 30 • 2015
When Ali Green* and
her husband, Craig*,
met, she was a
recent grad earning
$28,000 a year as a
nist, and he was a chef pulling in $50,000.
But before long, Ali s paycheck started to
climb, moving well past Craig s.
In 2012 she got a huge promotion and began
raking in $90,000 a year. The income gap
between them had turned into a chasm and
it was taking a serious toll on their relation-
"He d always been excited whenever I got
a salary boost, but now I noticed there was
an edge to his comments," Ali, 34, said. "Once,
he mentioned that if we weren t together, he d
have to live with four people in a studio. He
said it jokingly, but there was tension."
And her salary has only continued to climb.
She now owns an SEO consulting company,
while 33-year-old Craig s earning potential is
"He makes one third of what I make now,
and will often compare us, griping that even
though he works long hours, he earns a fraction
of what I do," Ali says.
"When there s a big difference between a
couple, the inequality can threaten to erode
your bond, unless you address it head on,"
says psychotherapist Kate Levinson, PhD,
author of Emotional Currency.
"Unfortunately, we don t like to acknowledge
that money influences our intimate relation-
ships---it s like a hidden operating system whose
presence is undetected, but has the potential
to influence everything."
The need to constantly compare salaries
isn t the only issue that can creep into a rela-
tionship. With the help of relationship and
money pros, we dig into four common dilem-
mas that couples often face when the digits
on their paychecks don t align.
Dilemma #1: The high earner
makes unilateral money decisions
Joseph Morgan*, 34, a real estate investor
who makes five times as much as his freelance
writer wife, Jenny, 34, once purchased pricey
concert tickets for them and two friends. When
Jenny asked whether their friends had paid
him back, he told her that he d never asked
"I was annoyed that she was making such
a big deal about it," Joseph said. "So I replied,
Why do you care how I spend my money? "
Jenny then asked if he believed that she
shouldn t have a say in such situations because
he made more money.
"I realised that she was right, and apologized
on the spot," Joseph said.
While the Morgans addressed their power
imbalance head on, many couples either avoid
the matter, or may not even realise it exists.
"We often make tiny bargains that are largely
unconscious," Levinson explained. "But each
time the under-earner feels disempowered, it
builds a brick of resentment."
If you feel like your voice is being ignored,
or perhaps you re the one taking advantage
of the extra digits on your paycheck through
power plays, Levinson suggested jotting down
your thoughts about a recent decision-making
scenario like the one the Morgans had.
And before you roll your eyes at the idea,
consider that numerous studies have shown
that expressing your emotions on paper can
help you better process them.
"Ask yourself how the influence of money
played out in the situation," Levinson said.
"The goal is to really shine a light on the prob-
lem, so you can begin to disentangle it."
So let s say your partner is footing the bill
for the family vacation and feels the destination
is his decision to make. Even though you d
rather go to the sea than the mountains, you
Once you ve had time to put pen to paper
to reflect on how finances factored into the
outcome, broach the topic with your partner.
"Be sure to harness an attitude of curiosity,
rather than confrontation," Levinson said.
You may have to go through this exercise
a few times before the real equity lessons seep
in, said Levinson, but in time, whenever you
have a difference of opinion, you ll likely both
be more cognisant of how money may be
affecting your dynamic.
Dilemma #2: One person ends up
paying all the bills
When it comes to managing household
finances, it isn t just the breadwinner who s
guilty of missing the big financial picture.
"One of the most common issues I see is
that the person who earns less views the bread-
winner s income as our money, but considers
their own salary their money, " says Deborah
Price, author of "The Heart of Money. "If left
unmanaged, this attitude can start to fracture
One culprit, said our experts, is a sense of
entitlement. The under-earner may feel jealous
and think they shouldn t be expected to pitch
in, since their partner makes so much more.
Or the non-contributor may be doing it
because they feel financially vulnerable and,
hoarding their own cash gives them a sense
Well, it s not that simple. Understanding
what s driving the behavior is the first step
toward changing it. But it can take a long time
to overhaul deep-rooted patterns, so start by
tackling the problem from a more practical
One strategy, says Price, is to have the lower
earner manage the household budget---and
help decide who is going to pay for what.
4 dilemmas couples face when one of you makes more
Continued on Page 15
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