In another era, perhaps, the person who earned the money wielded authority at home. In today's intimate relationships (where the emphasis is on partnership), more money does not buy more votes in relationship decisions.
Each person in a relationship makes contributions with different qualities, and will make different contributions at different times. One person may indeed contribute more money to their relationship, at least for a time, and that contribution has important qualities of support and safety.
Other people will contribute more fun and play to the relationship. Or more organization. Or more patience. And what about:... romance... creativity... leadership... spontaneity… caregiving... sexiness... humor... parenting instincts...?
What do you contribute?
For those who would focus on the quantity of contributions, here’s one: each partner should be bringing 100% of their capacity to the relationship. If each person in the relationship is bringing 100%, then each person has an equal vote and voice in all things related to the relationship, including how the resources of the relationship are used and directed.
Deciding where to go on vacation or on a date? Working out a budget? Choosing where the kids will go to school? Arranging household duties? The person who brings home more cash does not have a bigger vote in these decisions.
Using cash to get a bigger vote in the relationship will only be a withdrawal in the true currency of today’s relationships: affinity between the partners. Too many withdrawals and the relationship will soon be bankrupt.
Want to make a deposit instead? Take a moment today to acknowledge one or more contributions that your partner makes to the relationship. And then make sure cash is out of the equation when it comes to relationship politics.
John Hoelle is a couples mediator and family attorney.
Learn more about him here.