But is it something else?
Actually, people don't really fight over money. They fight over the prioritization of money and spending. Between couples, if the guy has more or the girl has more, there's not really much to fight. Usually each party doesn't try to grab the other's money.
Money is simple. You either have it, or don't have it.
The disagreements come about during the prioritization of money.
Or in simple terms, when there is a limited amount of money, how to allocate it.
For example, the wife might want to save for the future, and for their kids in future.
Whereas the guy wants to buy a bigger car.
Or the wife might want to send the child for classes and enrichment.
But the dad might think it is pointless cos, last time I didn't go, why does the kid need to go now?
Or the wife might think, why did you buy Mau Shan Wang for your parents, that's like 2x more expensive than what you bought for my parents.
Or even, the husband may be like, hey don't order drinks at this restaurant, it's very expensive, just go drink tap water after the meal.
Or the mum might want to send the child to see a doctor after 3 days of fever, but the dad may think it will just pass.
The list goes on and in each of the examples, there is no right or no wrong. It is just a difference in opinion or priority.
BUT, although there is no real right or wrong, there is a "more reasonable" view between couples.
So for example for the guy who wants to buy a bigger car, he's not unreasonable for wanting to buy a bigger car if he can afford it. But if you look at the bigger picture, it is more reasonable to save for the future. IF finances are tight. If they have the money to do both then no issue.
Or for the mum who wants to send the child to see the doctor, after 3 days, it might be more prudent for the child to see the doctor, you never know if it might be a worse condition than just a normal fever. After 3 days, it is more reasonable to see a doctor if you are worried. If it is the first day, then it would probably be more reasonable to wait it out to see if the condition gets better.
As for the husband who wants to save money by drinking tap water, seriously, it's not reasonable IF your partner doesn't buy the idea. I, personally have avoided ordering drinks and my wife is ok with it at times. At other times, if we are thirsty, we pay for plain water. Come on it's less than a dollar, if you're going to count like that might as well don't eat at the restaurant, you'll save more. It's just more reasonable to allow buying water. Unless the wife wants to drink a $5 can of coke, then it becomes debatable. In such a case, I would think it is more reasonable to just buy water cos $5 for a can of coke is just robbery.
Hey don't think that this is just a funny example. The truth is, IT HAPPENS. People have quarreled over water before. Just a dollar or two but it happens.
But what if the wife wants to buy a branded bag with her own money? Is it reasonable?
(Ok, I know couples who, the guy tells the wife she can spend on anything she wants with her own money, he will handle the rest. But we're not talking about those kind of couples. We're talking about couples who are like us, who have interrelated finances where one decision might have an impact on the other's decisions.)
Well in my opinion, it depends. Is the husband also buying luxury products?
Is the husband paying for most of the expenses?
I mean like, if the wife doesn't make a lot and keeps saying she doesn't have much to contribute to the household, then she goes and buys a branded bag, whereas the guy is frugal and pays most of the household expenses, then I think that it would be unfair to the guy. It would be more reasonable for the wife to save up or contribute more to the household expenses and lighten the load on the guy instead of splurging the money on a leather bag.
But if both parties are earning enough and both are contributing to the home at a fair enough proportion (not necessarily equal proportion, as long as it's fair as agreed by both parties) and both parties have sufficient disposable income, but the guy wants to retire early, but the wife wants to buy the bag, then I would think that it is more reasonable for the wife to be allowed to buy the bag. BUT this means that IF the husband wants to retire young, then the wife should not complain about it, cos the guy has saved up throughout the years for his own desires.
I mean you can't win them all right? I think it would be unfair if the wife were to spend frivolously and yet hold the husband back when he wants to retire, when he has saved sufficiently for his own retirement. He made his sacrifices and should be allowed to reap his rewards.
There's so many examples we can go through, the thing about it is that most of the time, we only look at our own prioritization, we fail to look at the partner's priority or the together priority. There are always 3 priorities. Your own, your partners' and as a couple. And you'll have to weigh them all. Cos all have positives and negatives. Is saving the money worth my partner's unhappiness? Is spending the money worth my own happiness minus my partner's unhappiness with me?
Take the water incident again. If the wife doesn't get water, she would be unhappy, if he saved 50 cents would it be worth his wives' unhappiness about not getting the water and unhappiness with him for not allowing the water? Really, just pay the 50 cents, if he don't want to drink nevermind.
But if she wants that $5 coke, then she is happy, but he is very unhappy cos he feels like he got robbed. So the net happiness might be lower in this scenario. In this case, I think it would be more reasonable to just take plain water.
In the case where the guy wants to buy a bigger car, is the happiness of a bigger car worth it? The wife doesn't really get anything, the money might not go into the joint account, but together, she knows that there is more financial security for both their futures and their kids futures.
So the scenarios may go something like,
The guy buys a car, he's happy.
Wife isn't happy cos she thinks he wasted money AND hasn't saved up for their future.
What is the net happiness of the whole family here? Not for me to say.
The guy doesn't buy a car, he's not really happy, but he gets some happiness from saving up and having more in his bank account, maybe more peace of mind by having a stash of cash.
Wife is happy cos he's saved up for their future and kids future.
Again, what is the net happiness of the whole family? Again not for me to say.
The decision is really between the couples.
Same as John Nash's game theory, the best result for one person doesn't mean it will be the best result for everyone.
In the examples, when one person takes a step back, the overall happiness of the family might be better off than if the person proceeded with his choice.
Of course this only works when both parties understand this.
If the one side keeps being the one taking the step back then eventually he/she will realize he/she is the fool and will stop being the accommodating party. Then in the end the result will be individual decision making which might not maximize overall family happiness when utilizing the resource.
So the answer to the initial question isn't really money. Money is simple.
But rather the prioritization of money. Since it is a limited resource, how should we BOTH allocate it to maximize OUR happiness together.
Note that the other person is NOT UNreasonable. Just that since there are different priorities, one decision will be more reasonable as that path would lead to a overall higher happiness level for everyone.
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