For the ‘love’ of money

My money, your money or our money? Mangala Ramamoorthy explores the ‘economics’ of money in relationships…


The famous American rock band, Eagles, sang “When we are hungry, love will keep us alive”.

One of my all-time favourites, the romantic in me ‘ooohs and aaahs’, breathes in the song and brims with love each time I listen to it, but the realist in me knows that when I am hungry, I would love to be pampered to a fine dinner or be taken to my favourite dessert joint. So much for love.

Love and money share a complex relationship. Either is not defined by the other, but the two certainly have an effect over each other. Money is a sensitive, powerful subject. And we often underestimate the role it plays in our relationships.
“Money plays a very important role in today’s relationships. Without money, it is difficult to sustain the life which we are so used to. All is rosy in love at the beginning and then the struggles of life take over. And when we have to leave our comfort zone, it does show its effect on relationships,” says Dr. Shalini Balakrishnan, an ENT Surgeon.

Probably when time is at premium, love often finds its expressions in materialistic pursuits. Even while we crave to capture as many little moments as possible with our loved ones, the chase is always for the things that come with a price tag – a romantic honeymoon, a weekend getaway to a resort, a special table for two, annual vacations, buying a perfect home, a car or simply maintaining a lifestyle.

Shaima Alkharusi, who works as a Senior Consultant with a business consulting firm, thinks this issue is more specific to our generation. “I think our parents and grandparents had their priorities clear and intact. They were more grateful for the things that they had. Also, their demands from their partners were far simpler. I think this generation is more materialistic. We are not contented and always want more.”

In earlier days, it was mostly the men who were the sole breadwinners of the family and were thus also seen as the primary decision makers. But that doesn’t seem to be entirely true with today’s millennial generation, where both men and women are considered to be on an equal footing, and in cases where both partners are earning, or where, at times, woman even earn the larger portion of the financial pie.
Interestingly, in the United States, a 2014 national research by, revealed that as a wife’s economic contribution to the household grows, every aspect of a couple’s life is affected, including how they save, spend, invest, what they worry about, what they fight about, and even how happy they are in their relationships!

An evident change in the trend is the increase in the number of women who are managing not only their own personal finances, but are also playing an equal role in taking financial and investment decisions with their spouses. “Irrespective of which partner earns more, I think it is important that partners take equal responsibility in household activities and that all major decisions are arrived in consultation with one another. That’s how it is in my house. Both my husband and I partake in managing the house as well as our financial commitments. It is not my money or your money, it is about our money,” says Shalini.

But Shaima feels that how you deal with finances depends on the kind of relationship you share with your partner. “I know friends who divide all the household expenses with their partners. I also know of couples, where despite the fact that both of them work, it is the man who takes on the responsibility of fulfilling the family needs. Money becomes an issue of contention only when there is a lack of agreement on how and who will handle the finances. For example, in our case, my husband manages most of the household expenses and my salary is more for my own use. He loves taking care of us and I love the security it provides me. We have that kind of understanding.”

A mother of two, Nabeela Aslam Farshori runs her own jewellery business, and concurs with Shaima’s thoughts. “Men do like being the caretaker of the family and I think that is perfectly fine if they like to lead and run the show. But when it comes to any important matter, my husband consults me and decisions are taken jointly. He does not want me to be contribute to our expenses, but whenever there is a need, I more than gladly pitch in. That’s what matters.”

Nabeela in fact sees a positive side to keeping finances separate, as it allows her to manage sudden expenses apart from giving her the leeway to pick up things for her daughters.

That brings us to the point of financial transparency. There are many researches that tell you how financial openness speaks volumes about the trust factor that exists in the relationship. Being open about the expenses, the shopping list, discussing any impulsive spending and exchanging banking details are some items on the checklist. “It is absolutely paramount that we be upfront and stay open when discussing about money and expenses. It is the basis of the relationship,” says Shalini. “It is not that we have to share details about every rial that is spent, but we do keep each other in the loop about any considerably larger expense,” adds Shaima.

One thing is certainly clear – money and honey both go pretty much hand in hand in the world of love.