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How to Keep Materialism From Hurting Your Relationship

How to navigate materialism in a healthy and fruitful way.


How to navigate materialism in a healthy and fruitful way.

Maybe you're one of those couples who are good with money. Maybe you even save to the point of frugality. Or, maybe you're like a great majority of Americans and you constantly buy stuff you don't need with money you don't have. If you fall into the latter camp, you probably don't need me to tell you that this sort of fiduciary irresponsibility can wreak havoc on a relationship.
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A lot of people actually fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Which means that, even for them, there are times when spending habits can cause tension. Especially if both parties of a relationship don't share the same habits. And since money is the number one stressor in most long term partnerships, it's important that you get your spending under control.

I feel like there are two really helpful ways to do it. The first is to impose a mandatory moratorium on anything spendy that you want to purchase. New clothes, new TV, new car, whatever it is, if it's enough to put a dent in your bank account, bar yourself from buying it for at least a month. Preferably, even longer, but a month for most people is enough to do the trick.

Because the big issues with our modern spend culture is that we get into this frenzy of immediate need. We want something, and in that moment we decide we will only be happy if we have it. For me it's usually something like an expensive pair of Japanese selvedge jeans, or a new pair of Air Jordans. I suddenly feel as if my life won't be complete until I have it. But that's just our natural existential angst manifesting itself as a materialistic desire. Because the reality is, that thing won't make you life complete. And if you wait a month before you buy it, you'll probably realize that. Hell, after a month you may not even want the thing anymore.

[post_ads]Oh, but if we wait a month the thing we want might be gone, you may be saying. Well, good. Look, you survived a month without it, which means that you can survive forever without it. And now that the option to buy it is gone, you can just get on with your life. No harm no foul.

Another trick to avoiding a materialistic tailspin is to think of anything you buy as not yours, but as “ours." As in, belonging to the relationship. Even if you have separate bank accounts and buy things with your own money, you should think of it as “ours." This is because money should always come second (or third or fourth really) in a relationship. And the relationship itself should be first. So if you buy something, you think in terms of “do we need or want it?"

The is not to say that everything you buy has to benefit you as a couple. Obviously my girlfriend won't get much enjoyment out of my expensive Japanese jeans. But when you think of it as ours, you're more likely to only buy it if you know it won't come as a detriment to the relationship. I'll buy the jeans only when it won't hurt us financially, and won't make my girlfriend frustrated that I bought them. In fact, if I do it right, she'll be happy I have them because they make me happy.
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It's important to navigate materialism in a healthy and fruitful way when you're in a relationship. Because if allowed to take over, it will ruin everything. And trust me, living alone with all of your stuff is no way to live at all.

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Love Magazine: How to Keep Materialism From Hurting Your Relationship
How to Keep Materialism From Hurting Your Relationship
How to navigate materialism in a healthy and fruitful way.
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