In the first 13 chapters of Genesis alone we see a man who can’t say “no” to a woman when offered a piece of fruit; the murder of a sibling; a man deciding it was OK to marry more than one wife; humanity’s spiritual relationship with God being so strained that man is wiped off the earth (save for Noah and his family); and two relatives quarreling over land use for their livestock.
Ugh…What a mess! In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, “People…they’re the worst.”
Relationships with those around us are challenging enough and adding money issues to the equation can bring a whole new level of tension. Improperly managed relationships are financial dream killers. They can scuttle any hopes of building wealth.
Some Unhealthy Relationships
Any of these sound familiar?
- The husband is a free spirit and loves to spend…makes him feel like his hard work is rewarding him with stuff. The wife loves to save and crunch the numbers in the budget…makes her feel safe and secure. They argue every month over his spur of the moment purchases and her tight-fisted control of the budget. He doesn’t understand why she won’t loosen up and have some fun. She doesn’t understand why he can’t be more responsible.
- Your best friend since high school decides he wants to start a new business. All he needs is $5,000 to get up and running. You lend him the money with a promise that it will be repaid once the business takes off. Six months later, the business has failed and you never see your friend (or your money) again.
- Your granddaughter has $12,000 already saved and has her eyes on a brand new BMW 3 series priced at $39,000. She asks you to cosign for a loan and you agree. “After all” you rationalize, “she will get a great job and be able to pay this loan off.” Meanwhile, the economy is crashing, she doesn’t find a job and can’t make her car payment. You are stuck with a $27,000 bill you had no intention of paying. Your relationship with your granddaughter is strained as you wonder why she can’t be more responsible and she is too embarrassed to face you because she can’t fulfill her obligation.
- You love the money your high tech job brings in. It allows you to increase your lifestyle and live in an upscale neighborhood. You can buy all the latest styles and gizmos. But the long hours and unrealistic demands of the job eat away at the time you’d rather be spending with your wife and kids. You can’t say “No” to your boss and the pressure to keep pace with your co-workers is overwhelming. “How can I properly balance work and home and keep everyone happy?” you wonder.
- You regularly tithe to your church. Recently, the pastor has been pushing everyone to give more to support the new building campaign. You know your budget can’t afford a free will offering at this point but “didn’t the pastor say God would bless me financially if I give?” Pressure, guilt and the hope of reward drive you to skip that months mortgage payment and give it to the church instead.
- Parties with friends are the bomb! And the harder and edgier the party, the better. Alcohol…drugs…gambling…pornography…there is nothing you won’t do in search of a good time. The paycheck that arrives on Friday is mostly gone by the end of the weekend, as you live on your credit card for most of the month.
Relationships and Money
All these examples of poor money management have a relationship issue driving the decision. And too often, when it comes to how we use our money, this is the case. How do relationships facilitate us doing crazy things with our money?
The answer may lie within us. I think we have been given certain relational desires:
- We want to get along with and be liked (loved) by others. We want relational harmony.
- We want to feel needed. This gives us a sense of our value.
- We want to help others because of our giving nature.
When these relational desires go unchecked or become twisted in someway, we get into trouble. “I don’t want my granddaughter to hate me, so I’ll give her the money she is asking for.” “I want to help others, so I will give money to my friend.” “The church needs me to give extra, so I’ll forego my mortgage payment to do so.” Mistakes in judgment (driven by our emotional need to meet our core relational desires) cost us thousands of dollars and derail the wealth building process.
Relationships are so hard. We all were created with different needs, desires and opinions.. How can we learn to coexist with people that are so different and most of the time just drive us crazy?
That will be the topic for part two of this post.
Have you ever been financially burned by a relationship issue?