By Laxmi Parmeswar, MA MS LPC, DCC (US based Licensed Psychotherapist and Clinical Psychologist)
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A wise eighty-three year old Uncle in my family recently imparted two profound pieces of advice to many of us-“don’t borrow money from anyone, especially a relative” and “don’t give money to anyone, especially a relative and expect it back”. Wise words from a man who had plenty of opportunities to do both in his lifetime. After all, no one really wants to borrow money; it typically comes from a place of need and/or desperation. Still, resist it strongly, was my uncle’s point of view.
Money is a very interesting commodity. It is a symbol of power and fame, it is often used as a weapon, it can make or break relationships; it can be spent freely or hoarded mercilessly and still retain its power, it can be hidden or flaunted and yet be a socio-cultural obsession; it can be used to lift the human condition or it can destroy the mind, heart and soul. How much is too much and how little is too little is ALWAYS a personal preference and changes throughout a person’s life.
Can money buy happiness? A poor person may say yes and a rich person may typically say no. While money doesn’t guarantee happiness, it may be better to be rich and unhappy than poor and unhappy! Smiles apart, each one of us has a unique relationship with money that we may not think about or talk about; but it plays a very important role in our worldview, our relationships, our capacity for intimacy, our sense of self and our inner peace. We are taught to assess the value of objects and experiences in terms of money but as adults, we have the choice to determine the value of money in our lives.
Married couples make decisions about finances by merging them or keeping them separate. Within marriages, one person may control the purse strings and therefore wield more power in the relationship. In joint families, business families and non-nuclear, blended families, relationships are complicated and the undercurrents of money impact members in several permutations and combinations.
The REAL question is does money affect intimacy in marriages? According to a recent survey from “Money Magazine”, couples fight twice as much about money as they do about sex or children.! Although, not a scientific study, the survey makes me realize the cumulative effect money has on couples through their married life. Communication, in marriages (and most relationships) is the answer to almost all questions related to why they fail!
One common myth is that "good people don’t consider money as necessary or important". That’s similar to saying that food is not that necessary or important! They’re both important- necessary for survival and more. They are both means to create a better quality of life.
Poverty is one of the most gut-wrenching ills of society and ALL OF US bear some responsibility in addressing it by offering our time, talent or treasure. Generosity of the human spirit is the need of the hour!
Is it possible that some of us have a ‘dysfunctional’ relationship with money? Our excessive pursuit of it or lack thereof may be affecting our relationships, friendships with others? Do we value money far more than our connections with ourselves and our humanity? Is society’s obsession over success and prosperity creating a culture of greed and intolerance with one another?
After all, we can’t take money with us in the final journey!!!! All we can hope to leave is a legacy for future generations!!!!