Society dictates that marriage is a legal partnership where both persons have decided to enter a lifelong commitment to building as a unit. But let’s say that the married couple earns a total of $200,000 a month, with one person earning $150,000 while the other earns $50,000. Can each spouse still respect and love the other, without fostering feelings of guilt and resentment? Income inequality is recognised as one of the top causes of unnecessary tension in many relationships. Since this is a partnership, how do you determine who spends the money? Outlook Magazine takes a look at some of the issues surrounding income inequality and explores a few ways on how to rectify those problems.
There are several issues that will come from income inequality, but we’ve highlighted the five most common ones:
The spouse that earns the most money within the household may feel resentment towards his/her spouse, especially if the spouse who earns less, spends too much money on non-essentials. This spouse may feel like they are being taken advantage of because of this imbalance. He or she will think they need to work harder or longer hours to make more money to finance the household.
2. Power Struggle:
Money is associated with power. This includes the power to get what one desires, the power of influence and power over other people. More often than not, the primary income earner believes that he or she has power over the spouse and has the right to make decisions about where the family goes, what the spouse does and the dynamics of the family. The spouse who makes less money is usually at the mercy of the spouse who earns more.
More often than not the partner earning less money will feel guilty about spending money they did not generate themselves. Usually, they will refrain from purchasing things for themselves because of the guilt of not
4. Lying about Money
Dishonesty is another issue that may arise from income inequality. If a spouse is spending more than their fair share of the family income, they will try to cover up their spending habits to avoid conflict.
The spouse earning more money may feel entitled to spending more on their wants and needs. This may leave the other spouse with not enough to purchase goods for themselves.
Five ways how to solve these problems and avoid conflict:
1. Talk about it
Opening the lines of communication is the most effective way of solving any issues within a relationship. Just remember to show compassion and understanding when having this conversation and avoid accusing your partner of wrongdoings.
2. Create a Budget
This will clear up where the money is going and also create a mutual agreement on how the money is spent by each spouse.
3. Have a Financial Meeting
Just like any business or partnership, monthly meetings regarding money should be had to manage the household’s finances. This is the perfect place to plan for incoming expenses and make each other aware of the overall financial state of the family.
4. Be Flexible
If your spouse needs extra help with money, maybe there was a recent death or a family member needs assistance. Try spending less this month to facilitate their needs. This will be greatly appreciated by them.
5. Make the work 50/50
If both persons are not earning the same income, splitting the housework helps with making up for the inequality. By creating a balance of total work, the relationship becomes more stable and one person will not feel they are carrying the burden of the family.