For the love of Darwin, keep money out of love.

Boys and girls, I’d like to tell you a little story. Stay with me if you will, all will make sense in the end (I hope)…

Once upon a time, there were these two bff’s called June and Jane. June and Jane met in school and immediately hit it off. Whatever June did, Jane found it funny or amazing and likewise, whatever Jane did, June thought it was the coolest thing ever. They were inseparable and all their other friends noticed it; they genuinely and effortlessly clicked mentally.

As time went by, their bond only got stronger. Whatever happened in June’s life, she would share it with Jane and almost always, June felt supported. Jane would get why June felt that way about whatever it was that June was saying. If June got into fights with her parents, Jane would see that June’s parents were being ridiculously unfair towards June and in fact, Jane never got how parents of such a wonderful human being can ever get angry or annoyed or be negatively judgmental about their daughter. Needless to say, if the situation was reversed, June would always back Jane too.

When they finished school, they decided to go to the same university, live in the same student halls and, even though they chose different courses, they continued to spend as much time together as possible. Boyfriends would come and go, some would stay for a while, other friendships would be made, some fleeting and others more lasting, but the one constant that remained was the strength of the June Jane bond. No matter what life through at them, it only managed to reinforce the fact that what they have is a unique friendship that can stand the test of time and life’s many challenges.

When they graduated from university, it seemed only inevitable that they would end up working in the same city and share a flat. They started looking for jobs and, within a few weeks, they both found similarly paying jobs in their respective fields that would allow them to live in the same city. The pay wasn’t much but with the money they both saved, and a bit of parental help, they found a two-bedroom flat they instantly loved because if needed some TLC which they saw as a great opportunity to make it their own. It was well located in relation to their respective work as well as the centre of town which is exactly what they were after. They paid the deposit and moved in; they agreed that they would each pay for all their personal costs and split the shared costs right down the middle. As expected, they both fell in love with their new home and their new life and, in no small measure, this was down to the fact that they were living with each other.

After about a year or so, June got a promotion which meant that she would be earning substantially more than before, and more than Jane. Needless to say, Jane was ecstatic for June as she knew how hard June worked and how she very much deserved this promotion. The extra cash came in handy; they were able to get one or two more things they couldn’t before thanks to June’s extra income. Jane always made sure to ask if June minds paying for these additional things because it went against their original agreement of splitting all shared costs down the middle; but June reassured Jane that she was more than happy with this. Besides, she was sure that Jane would do exactly the same thing if the situation was reversed.

Weeks and months passed, boyfriends again would come and go, some would stay longer, they socialised together, or with other friends and this all somehow happened seamlessly and not once did it cause any friction or annoyance. One day, they were walking down their local high street when they saw a King Charles Spaniel with a bow on his head; the decision was instant. It’s not as if they had never seen a dog, or this this particular breed before, it was just something about that moment, perhaps it was because they were a bit older now, who knows. Anyway, they both agreed that they want a pet and it has to be this type of spaniel.

So, they found a breeder, went to look at the puppies, chose one and, after a few weeks for registration and the necessary injections, they brought the puppy home. To begin with, they went OTT with buying beds and toys and food bowls and whatever else they found; they sure kept their parcel delivery guy busy for a while. They hired a dog walker to look after the dog for a few hours during the day when they were both at work, but apart from that, they both couldn’t wait to rush home and be with Igor, yes, they called him Igor (pronounced ‘eye – gor’, after their favourite character from the film “Young Frankenstein” – it was those eyes, identical to Igor’s).

Just as everything seemed to be going swimmingly, Jane was made redundant. It wasn’t her fault, business was slow, the global economic downturn was affecting many companies and hers was one such company. Jane was devastated and really worried about her future. June of course was extremely supportive and told her not to worry as things were going well at her work, in fact, she was expecting yet another promotion and if it happens, it would once again increase her pay by a sizeable amount. June started to pay for all of the shared costs such as rent, rates, utilities and food shopping. She also began to help Jane with some of her personal expenses because she could see that Jane was feeling down.

As hard as Jane tried, she could not find another job. She was offered one or two positions but they were at a much lower pay than she was on before and the position was not quite suitable for her qualifications; she decided to keep looking and of course June was supportive. Jane wanted to reduce the bills as much as possible so she suggested that they get rid of any luxuries until things change. The first thing to go was the dog walker and the cleaning lady that came twice a week. Jane felt that since she wasn’t working, it would only be fair that she does this since it only represented about 10 to 15 hours a week in total so it was an easy and logical money saving decision.

Time moved on quickly and before they knew it, they kind of got into a bit of routine. Jane started taking better care of their home, making it cleaner and more presentable by adding a few more touches here and there. She started preparing more home cooked meals which both her and June preferred to the many take outs and ready meals they used to have when both of them worked. She also started to take the dog for longer walks to play areas where she met other dog owners. This led to coffee mornings in local coffee shops and, eventually hosting some at home. The promotion that June was anticipating did come about which made adjusting to their new lifestyles easier. Even though June began to feel as if Jane might not be trying that hard to find a job, she brushed these feelings away because after all this was Jane, her best friend, she was doing her bit at home and it’s not as if they were struggling for money.

Jane also found herself feeling as if she needs to make sure June is happy conscious of the fact that almost all expenses are now being paid by June. Conversations with her parents were getting a bit uncomfortable as they were concerned Jane is becoming too dependent on June and, should anything go wrong between them, Jane would be left stranded. June was also being asked awkward questions by her parents. Questions such as “are you sure she’s not using you?” June pretended that she didn’t care and reflected this by getting angry at her parents accusing them of not understanding the situation. However, deep down, she knew it was actually beginning to be a bit of an issue. When she comes home from work and Jane talks about how that day she went for a walk, bought some flowers, got another cute jumper for Igor, oh and btw the washing machine isn’t working so she needs money to call a repair man to fix it, June couldn’t help but think that maybe her parents are right.

This situation continued to brew silently until one Saturday, June woke up to find Jane busy making food in the kitchen. After the usual morning pleasantries, June asked what’s going on and Jane said that she thought it would be a nice idea to invite some of her newfound local dog owning friends for a champagne brunch. This triggered something in June, it felt to her as if this was the last straw and she had to say something. It did not go well, it seemed that there was much resentment felt inside and it all came gushing out. June expressed how she felt that she was unappreciated and being used, how she needed some peace during weekends whereas Jane is always full of energy in then because she does nothing all week. Jane also expressed how June has been a bit distant lately making her feel as if June belittles her even though she takes care of the house and has turned it into a very comfortable, clean and lovely home for June to come home to. She expressed how she has to always take care of Igor and that June never lifts a finger with him anymore. She expressed how June blanks her whenever she tells her about her day as if June has far more important things to think about; and on it went… The escalation kept on going only one way until they both started swearing, crying and saying things they never thought they’d say to the other…. The end…

My question to you is this: If one of these two girls was your daughter, who would you rather it was?

The moral of the story? It doesn’t matter how mentally together you and your partner think you are, it makes no difference how solid and wonderful you think your relationship is, no matter how hard you try and avoid or deny it, financial dependence will erode your friendship. Live together, split the shared bills, pay for your own things and do this for as long as you don’t have children. Even if you decide to have children, if financial dependence becomes necessary, make sure it is temporary. Aim to regain that financial independence as quickly as possible; do not underestimate how damaging financial dependence can be on your own self worth or your love of each other. Moreover, don’t even begin to consider having children before living together without being financially reliant on the other for at least three years; it takes that long to take off our evolutionary rose tinted glasses. For a man and women to find each other, get pregnant, give birth and raise a child to a point where that child can move away from danger, it takes between two and three years. If one parent leaves before then, the survival chances of that now single parent child is practically zero since that single parent has to leave the child unattended as it searches for food. What does this mean? Our ability to suppress critical judgment, tolerate irritations, stick together and wear rose tinted glasses for three years survived. That is why what is cute year one becomes excruciatingly annoying years three onwards.

I hope you come to the following two conclusions from the above:

1. Live together with financial independence for at least three years before you entertain any form of long term commitments, in particular, having a child;

2. Should you find yourself in a situation where you need to be financially dependant on a partner, make sure it is a temporary measure. Let your norm be this: pay for your own luxuries and chip in as much you can towards your shared necessities.

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