Love Doctor: My Girlfriend Throws a Fit If I Spend Money
From Matt, New York
Hello Mr. Love Doctor,
A friend forwarded me one of your articles, so I'm going to give you a shot. Basically, my girlfriend has a real problem whenever I spend money. I happen to come from a pretty well-to-do background, and she grew up poor in Chicago. Whenever I spend money on a new gadget or something for my car - or even just a nice dinner - she has to say something. Sometimes when I want to give money to a friend in need, she throws a fit. I say we can afford to be generous with ourselves and other people, but she says no. What can I do? I don't want a woman trying to control my wallet. Is that all she's after?
Learn to control your spending
It doesn't sound to me like your girlfriend is after your money. If she were, she would be goading you to spend more on her. Insecure, insincere women who are after a man's money are always in it to get what they can before the honeypot dries up.
If anything, I think your girlfriend is sweet in her concern for (a) you and (b) you two as a couple. Growing up as she did in poverty, she is well aware of the value of a dollar. She knows how fast money can go, and she knows that it can be tough to make realistic adjustments when money goes away. Lots of people live beyond their means, and your girlfriend doesn't want you to fall into that trap. Nothing makes a couple more miserable than mountains of debt - or having to dump assets for pennies on the dollar when it all comes crashing down. Remember, coming as you do of money, it can be easier to let go of large wads of cash, because you assume there is always more where that came from. The rest of us live in a very different reality.
So take a look at your spending patterns. Be honest. Is your current spending level sustainable? Are you wasting money you should be saving? A wise man once said, "In the blink of an eye wealth disappears, for it will sprout wings and fly away like an eagle" (Proverbs 23:5, NLT). Come up with a spending plan. Take a look out five, ten, even fifteen years. Create a rainy day fund. What if you lose your job? What if your dad's corporation craters? What if you have to scale down? Communicate these plans to your girlfriend.
That said, your girlfriend is taking the wrong approach to this. In her hurry to keep you out of trouble, she is speaking from fear rather than security. Women crave security in a relationship. It is your job, as the man here, to make her feel safe.
How do you do that? Be honest with her when it comes to discussions of money. I'm not saying one conversation is going to cut it, either. It needs to be a day-to-day, open, and honest partnership. Tell her what you want to spend money on. Get her advice and input. Let her be part of the decision process. Does it stifle some of your freedom? Sure. But then, that's what love does - it puts the other person first. Most importantly, let her know why you think you can afford something. And stop kidding yourself: A large part of your motivation to giving needy friends things is just that it feels good to be the guy with money. She knows this instinctively, and she also knows that money only buys friends while you have it. So she's trying to keep you from throwing money down the toilet. Recognize this, and appreciate it.
So grow up, buddy. Your girlfriend loves you. How many guys complain that their women blow tons of cash at the mall? Sounds like this one is a keeper. She sounds responsible and caring. Now you just need to let her know that she can relax, you're in control, and you have a financial plan for the future. And when she says you shouldn't be spending money on stuff, listen to her - she might be right.
Mr. Love Doctor is a happily married man to the woman of his dreams. A normal guy, he works in radio and runs a small business. You can e-mail him at email@example.com