On Couples Counseling: Money, Power, and a House of Cards

Money helps, but if you don’t have the right foundation to creating a marriage or relationship, you are building a house cards. I talk with too many guys who still are committed to the idea that working their asses off, making money, and providing the right lifestyle for themselves and their wives or girlfriends is what is going to create happiness and a successful relationship. Wrong.

Money is never all satisfying. Even though it has evolutionary roots, the idea of being a mate who can acquire access to resources (i.e. money) has its limitations. And yet guys don’t seem to get this. They seem to think that they can buy their mate’s happiness, which may be true in a fleeting sense.  The sense of material acquisition can never be fully experience — there always has to be more. Money cannot become a surrogate for lack of the emotional connection or expression, or as a substitute for love and respect.

When we fight about money, it may be true that were fighting about other issues in our relationships. When we have no money, that may be absurd proposition, but I think that money is often the materialization of power and control dynamics within a relationship or household. When we try to gain control or power over our mate (to distract us from our own powerlessness or feelings of being out of control), there are various ways that we can do this. Sex and money are two common “power currencies” that keep tension between two people who are vying for more power and control in their relationship.

The psychology of money between couples is very subtle, and requires a keen eye and willingness to change behaviors to remedy this type of problem. Even just considering that money, or the lack of it, is the tip of the iceberg, and has many primary causes and secondary symptoms is a great start. Seeing money in this way, as a form of a psychological currency, is difficult, but it may shed some perspective on the way that you have traditionally dealt with it in your relationships.

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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