Since money is more difficult to talk about than sex for most English people it is one of the topics that proves very sticky with my clients.
I remember when I was working on ‘How to Have Sex After Marriage’ one of the couples had a complete breakdown of trust over money – he had racked up huge credit card bills and almost gone bankrupt. She only found out when the bailiffs started knocking on the door.
To me this was shocking – how could you be so closed about such an important issue in the relationship? This simple truth was that they never talked about it – that when he lost his high powered job, and then kept spending like he was still in his high powered job it never came up until it was almost too late.
Money is a dirty topic in this country – I even notice it with my clients when they come to speak to me. They hate talking about money – again I took Kate Fox’s advice and only discuss money by email and in writing, which seems to be the most comfortable way forward.
But what about when you are in a relationship? It is really right that you send emails to each other when you want to talk about money? I’ve encountered the most enormous resistance from clients when trying to get them talking about money in their relationship. It is an explosive issue.
The best approach I have found so far is the keep it private but share approach. Each person keeps their own personal account and then each month pay an agreed amount into a joint account to cover joint costs like mortage, rent, bills etc etc. Each person can do what ever they want with their personal account, but the joint account should like Fort Knox – off limits to every one!
The joint account shouldn’t have a card attached to it, or if it does it should be kept safe – this approach ran into trouble with some of my clients when one of them started using the joint account as a personal credit card, leading to all sorts of trouble and arguments.
Money is like a big time bomb waiting to go off in most relationships – if you don’t sort it out early and deactivate the bastard, it’s probably going to go off and do a lot of damage.
What have been your experiences with dirty money in a relationship, and have you got any approaches that work or have ended in disaster?