I'm an earner, you're a spender

What kind of couple are you? Andrew G Marshall identifies five cases at odds with each other

Arguments about money are never just about money, and understanding how you argue about them can be more revealing than six months on a therapist's couch. These arguments are intertwined with self-esteem, power, security, freedom and dependency - all the big emotions. Our financial "personality" depends on how we were brought up and attitudes to money in our families. It is such a deeply unconscious topic that even sex seems easier to discuss.

After falling in love, we often discover that our partner handles money very differently to the way we do so ourselves. If finances are tight, we may polarise until it is like being on a see-saw. The more you push down in your direction the further they fly up in theirs. However, by understanding our partner's opposing view and finding the middle ground, we can confront and overcome our fears.

The most common money see-saws may seem similar, but the couples may express their anger in very different ways and their behaviour may be fuelled by different past experiences.

Saver and spender

One partner says that they must buy new curtains for the lounge: the brown velvet has to go. The other one points out that they cannot afford it. Spenders are constantly buying gifts for themselves and others, and hate balancing their cheque books. The saver is proud that he or she owes nobody anything, understands just how much credit costs and has a card only for emergencies.

This is the most common combination of two people with contrasting attitudes to money.

Responsible adult and irresponsible child

The responsible adult works and works: buying a house, long-term security and pensions are all important, they feel, and the last thing money is for is having fun. The irresponsible "child" must have the original Fifties jukebox, and they must have it now. They know how to enjoy money, but in saner moments they see that they have no savings to see them through hard times, and have spent their way into debt. This is a more extreme version of "the saver and the spender".

Wise and innocent

The innocent are almost afraid that money will corrupt them, and may even fear becoming too attached to it, or addicted. They shy away from money or are ashamed of their possessions, which seem to tie them down and commit them. In contrast, the wise are always looking for new ways to make money - these were the people who spoilt dinner parties in the late Eighties by boasting about how much their homes were worth. They know everything about unit trusts and nothing about people. While the innocent are afraid of being corrupted by money, the wise see the markets as their saviour and other people as their downfall. If these partners polarise their views, the relationship is bound to be stormy.

Hoarder and gambler

Hoarders surround themselves with money - they almost try to insulate themselves against the world with their financial success. A hoarder does not need money just to feel secure, but to feel good about, and value, himself. The hoarder takes no risks with money or with his life.

His opposite, the gambler, is addicted to adrenalin. When the hot investment tip comes up or the roulette wheel is spun, this is the person who is in there.

The gambler never thinks about what will happen if he loses, and may become depressed and feel worthless when a venture fails.

Worrier and unconcerned

The worrier is always fretting that there will not be enough money to meet the bills, despite the reality that if he budgeted it through he might have a pleasant surprise: the house is not going to be repossessed tomorrow. Every decision is revisited a thousand times.

Meanwhile, the unconcerned closes his eyes to the problems. This couple can drive each up other up the walln

The author is a relationship counsellor.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: European Sales Director - Aerospace Cable & Wire

    £100000 - £125000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a top tier supplier to the...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Project Manager

    £17100 - £22900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

    £20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an intermediate help de...

    Recruitment Genius: CNC Turner

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established manufactu...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral