'I got retrenched and it took a toll on my relationship' - on money and intimacy

Relationship dynamics change when money problems are involved.

Clinical sexologist and couples therapist Dr Eve has seen firsthand how money fiercely impacts on sexual intimacy in relationships.

Disagreements over money are one of the top causes of couple fights and divorce, she says.

When some clients come to her practice complaining about sexual difficulty, Dr Eve says she very quickly discovers that the root of the problem is not sexual but financial.

Money issues can cause financial struggle, stigma, secrecy, deceit, betrayal, addictive behaviours, compulsive spending and can take away from intimacy.

Dr Eve says partners need to acknowledge that they may have different money values and work on transparency to create more intimacy.

These real money issues affect the way that you relate, connect, trust and feel safe - and therefore, the way you feel sexual with a partner.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

So what happens when bae doesn't bring home the bacon? Some men who have felt financially disempowered in their relationship shares their stories.

This morning my wife and I had a tiff over finances. I was retrenched from my previous high-paying job and now I earn half of what I used to earn.

Abel, caller

She now earns more but she's a very big money hoarder so sometimes we battle having conversations with finances and it affects our sexual relations.

Abel, caller

My husband has not been working for some time. Even before losing his job, the money he was getting was quite small. It's been hard. Our entire relationship was turned upside down, including intimacy.

Anonymous via SMS

I couldn't have sex with my husband when he could no longer provide. I was a stay-at-home mom at the time and our family was 100% reliant on him. He lost everything and was dishonest about what was happening... The level of dishonesty led to me not trusting him and not even wanting to be intimate.

Anonymous via WhatsApp voicenote

I lost my job in 2016, but my life was completely supportive in those six months. We had to dip into our savings, but she was with me through thick and thin.

Andile, caller

My boyfriend and I both earn good salaries, we don't live together and have been together for 4 years. He's very stingy... Recently I found out that he's earning double than what I thought.

Ronnette, caller

I got retrenched last year and it's definitely taken a toll on my relationship with my wife.

Brian, caller

Dr Eve explains that financial situations, behaviours, attitudes and habits in relationships can lead to intimate detaching and sexual withholding.

She adds that good financial health can lead to healthier sexual relationships and intimacy.

Dr Eve's top tips on creating financial intimacy:

1. Make a time to proactively discuss finances.

  1. Stop judging and listen, despite your differing values.
  2. Embrace the differences: Speak about each other’s “wants’ versus “needs".
  3. Don’t keep secrets. Do not buy stuff and hide it from your partner. Or lie about the price tag.
  4. Make a financial commitment to honouring agreements you have made as a couple.
  5. Save for a rainy day. Ensure there is a back up plan. It increases relationship commitment.

Visit Dr Eve's website for more.

Listen to her expert advice:


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