Love and money, an irreconcilable couple?


It is firstly because love has long been considered an economic union between two “parties” that it is now so frowned upon to take this subject up in pairs. Fortunately, the days when “cash marriages” were commonplace are over.. Exit, so, the creation of a household aimed at maintaining family activity by securing a “descendant”. In his money philosophy, Georg Simmel thus opposes harmonious couples, united by virtue of “their individual quality”, to the unfortunate duo of “money marriages”: who irreparably create ” a state […] mating without matching ”. The generalization of marriages for love and the reduction of marriages for interest have thus favored this distinction – and this mistrust – of money in the couple.

“Money is beyond the personal sphere”
George Simmel

A love marriage is more about the impulses of the heart than about the contents of the scrotum. Money is love therefore also opposes the “personal” to the “impersonal”. In fact, according to Simmel, silver – which is said not to smell – “a colorless impersonality”. Through its flat mathematical objectivity, it implies a form of distancing from the world. A cloth banknote is not an object one uses, a journey one takes, an experience one tries: it expresses only a set of abstract potentials. For this reason, “Money is beyond this personal sphere”, sums up Simmel. Economy is therefore the exact opposite of love, on the contrary considered the most intimate.

Finally, where love can be consumed without being consumed, money is spent in consumption. According to Simmel, “when we exchange love with love” we produce a giant “inner energy”. Love, thus foreseen, is never a loss. On the contrary, it is tenfold and intensified through division. This is not the case with economic exchange, which according to the German philosopher, “always represents the sacrifice of a good that would have been useful elsewhere”. There would therefore be, on the one hand, the inflamed and boundless passion and, on the other hand, the currency which is exhausted in the course of expenditure: limited money against infinite love.

Close to his shillings, far from the heart?

For lovers, the purpose of this taboo on spending is to spare the relationship from the torments of economic life: to make what Simmel theorizes an island beyond basic material considerations. In his book Good accounts make good lovers (Looking for Dinner, 2019), Heloise Bollewealth management consultant and founder of Oseille et compagnie, shows that money is often seen as “the less romantic subject that is, and the one who asks the question can at best go to the service killjoy, at worst to a mantis”. This fear of getting into this “love-killing” topic maintains a kind of perpetual opacity, especially as regards the spouse’s income. michelle dayan lawyer specializing in family law quoted in the book, reports e.g. “that one in five enters [s]we practice without having a small idea of ​​the income of the person she lives with! »

The loss of standard of living that can be directly attributed to the breach is about 20% for women and 3% for men.

This is the whole paradox of love: we give it a value by decree that it has no price. Ideally, the nature of love, through its generosity, is in fact the opposite of the abstract and ruthless coldness of money. But concretely, a couple in everyday life must live well: eat, pay bills and make accounts. By too much wanting to silence this economic dimension of married life, we lose touch with the reality of what “being a couple” means, especially in the case of living together. It is therefore also this sacralization of romantic relationships that at the time of divorce can lead to complex situations where no one really knows what he owes the other. And in the case of separation, it is most often the women who toast. The loss of standard of living that can be directly attributed to the break is around 20% for women and 3% for men.

When we love, we count!

“Have you ever sat down at a table to talk about money?” » This is the question asked by the journalist and the essayist Titiou Lecoq to listeners to his “Return the Money” podcast. In the section entitled “Forget the best: when it comes to money, a couple must always prepare for the worst” the guest, Héloïse Bolle (author of the book Good accounts make good lovers) Returns to the importance of sharing the expenses according to each person’s income. For a fair management of the household economy, “bet speed”, namely, the amount that a spouse spends on household finances should depend on the respective resources of one and the other. Likewise, perishable and basic necessities should not always be the responsibility of the same spouse. Because in the end, one of the two ends up with ” a car “, while the other – often the wife – has spent his money “layer”sums up Titiou Lecoq.

These very concrete considerations aim to recognize that love is not a paradise separate from material life: the couple is fully part of the economic world. This interdependence between the couple and money is confirmed – and reinforced – by the law. For example, two people agree “tax partners” in the eyes of the state. Similarly, when we talk about “household economics”, we discuss the way in which the “plot” manages and spends the money. This way of looking at things brings the couple closer to what the Greeks called“oikos”, and which denotes the household, the family, but also the common heritage. Granted, we’re moving away from the bubble of love flowing away from the quarrels of the world, as theorized by Simmel … But we’re getting closer to real life.

Against the mythologized vision of a relationship that lives only on love and fresh water, one could therefore think of a clear love that cares about the individual’s economic reality and that of the home. This openness and transparency about the details of finances – a term that comes from ancient Greek Exitwhich means “to pay”, “to get rid of” would avoid anger, unspokenness and injustice in the couple. The feminist theorist Gloria Steinem wish “eroticize equality”. We could apply this slogan to the couple’s finances and recognize that love and money … can go hand in hand.

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