Financial Love Story: What’s Love Got To Do With It?

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Tina Turner belted out this number in her 1993 movie.  Whilst the often quoted adage of “When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out of the window” may not ring true in all relationships, but the topic of money may make or break one.

Sim first bumped into Professor Murthi at the cafe she normally goes to for her meal.  She noticed this neatly dressed distinguished looking chap with grey hair and white beard.  At the same Sim’s air of confidence and cheery disposition caught the attention of Professor Murthi.

As both were in their matured years, it was not exactly infatuation, but rather a mutual attraction.  An intelligent conversation started and soon both were seeing each other more frequently.  Love blossomed over time.

Oh, there were differences, she loved her social dancing which he does not care for, whilst he loved his nights out drinking with his friends at a regular hostess-filled pub which she is happy to miss.  So they adjusted their time to synchronize their ‘me time’ and it worked well.

There were enough common grounds to continue building the relationship.  Both were divorced, he a Professor in a local private university and she, a freelance trainer working from home.  Things were going well with both parties introducing their families and letting friends know that their relationship was serious.

Financially, both were sound, with children all grown up and independent.  Plans were being made on how they could adapt and live with each other.  However, there was one question that kept popping up in their conversation which struck a nerve with Sim and started turning it raw.

The first time it came up, he told her that his good friend, Chew said that Chinese girls are money minded and go after a man’s wealth.  He asked her whether it was true.  Initially she smiled and shrugged it off, knowing better than to respond to a loaded question.  After all, she loved him enough to overlook it.  “Maybe it is the spirit in him talking, after too many drinks”, she told herself.

Over the two years of their relationship, this questioned would occasionally rear its ugly head.  One of the times, she replied that if the man is not sure, he should walk away from the relationship.  This was more than a hint!  Sim now totally ignored the question whenever it reared its ugly head, but it continued to grate on her raw nerves.

They decided to take a short holiday with friends to a nearby destination.  That was when they saw each other’s true colours. They argued over an incident where he requested special arrangement to view some products which he had no intention of buying.  She also realised that his need to drink is more profound but he did not want it to be known, hence the necessity to rush back to the hotel each evening wherever the group was.

In the meantime, back home her career progressed as she took up employment holding a senior position in a well-established training company. Invariably, work pressure and load increased so that they met less often.

One evening, after a long and hard day, she came back feeling bushed and looking forward to dinner with him.  They ate at a quiet and modest cafe.  Over dinner he was telling her about his feeling of financial insecurities and worries that he does not have enough money.  She listened to him unloading more insecurities about how when they are together, they cannot be eating like this and the time he took her to a swanky place early in their relationship was just to impress her. And then, he popped the question again!  Nope, it was not the proposal, it was the other question.

Sim felt so disappointed and her feelings subsided more.  This added on to the pressure she had at work and was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

She hardly said anything throughout dinner and when it was over, she went home and thought things over. Money was not an issue for her as she had learnt to live within her means.  But she cannot live with a man who hangs on to his insecurities like that when he knows that she is financially independent.  There was also the issue of his drinking and his health which he seemed to ignore.

The next day, when she was at his place, she sat him down and calmly told him that she wanted out of the relationship as she was not good enough for him because she is unable to address his financial insecurities despite not having asked him for any money throughout the relationship.

His quick rebuttal was accusations that she had found someone else. He also went on to tell her the financial benefits he had planned for her and she would forgo that by walking away.  She waited patiently until he finished, bade him goodnight and high-tailed out of his place.

Whilst she felt sad the relationship was over, it was a great relief for her as his accusations revealed what he thought about her and she felt she had made the right move.

The moral of the story is to discuss financial matters in a relationship when the time is right.  It is one of the key factors in addition to love, integrity and respect that makes or breaks a relationship.  In financial planning, making financial provisions for shifts in the relationship is necessary although it may seem awkward to be discussing money, but believe you me, it helps in sustaining the relationship and clears the air.

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Chief Executive Officer Financial Planning Association of Malaysia

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