Lucy Mangan says you’re crap with your money
, and I am inclined to agree. Money is one of those awful taboos in relationships these days, in the exact same way that sex was fifty years ago, i.e. who’s getting the most out of it? Do we bring different things to the table and does the other one appreciate it? Does one of us really need more of it? And are you allowed to sometimes just go for it on your own, without your partner there to see, or is there a joint agreement going on here?Stylist
has it that a joint bank account is true love (apart from your ‘secret running away account’, of course.) Perhaps it is. It’s certainly sad that raising children has no meaningful financial value in modern society, apart from a paltry contribution from child benefit that hovers around the £20-a-week mark and suggests that wiping bums and answering 112 ‘why?’ questions requires the most remedial level of skills, rather than the patience of a saint to not subject them to some East London justice every time they want to know why buses are red or the sky is blue or Auntie Lillian is a raging alcoholic. In a week where it was reported that a third of mothers fall into an average £2,500 worth of debt
during maternity leave and one in 10 cut their leave short for financial reasons, we should be remembering the inalienable truth behind maternity leave: babies grow inside of you. I’m sorry, I didn’t emphasise that enough. Inside of you.
They live in
your body, previously the only place you might have had a bit of serious privacy to yourself (apart from the occasional invading penis), and then they come out. Through your vagina.
After making your vagina no fun anymore, they then move on to your breasts – and this shit is worth £20 a week? Give me a break. Then, in Middle Class Land as imagined (fairly accurately) by Lucy Mangan, the dude goes out to work, comes home at five thirty, and protests loudly about housework before dictating expenditure of the family income because technically, the pay cheque has his name on it. One day, this massive con is going to be rumbled, because women are actually working now before consigning their lives to unpaid nursing roles. I work in an office. I sit in front of a computer, send a few hilarious IMs to people sitting a few cubicles away, and then pretty much go home. Fair enough, I moan to my roommates about tiredness when I waltz in the door at six. But they haven’t been preventing small but evil goblins that they’re hormonally forced to love from destroying the house and quite possibly their sanity for the eight hours that I’ve been away.
I’ll have to offer the same caveat as Stylist did, in that I can’t provide concrete answers to this issue. It’s one that’s been going on for a long time, and probably one of those hard slogs that requires a total cultural turnaround of what we really recognise as jobs, how we categorise parenthood if finances are going to be our benchmarks of worth (an inevitability vomited up by our special brand of western capitalism), and how much money defines your life. But when you’ve swapped, or downgraded, your own wage that used to go on Kurt Geigers for a handout that is only partly yours and earmarked for Clarks’ ‘my first shoes’ service, you might end up feeling a twinge of resentment that ultimately seeds the destruction of your own relationship.
Women have got to lead the way in knowing their own worth. That starts with knowing that they’re worth more than the mascara they use and the number they see on the bathroom scales, and escalates up to knowing that childcare is a massive fucking job and there’s no problem with recognising that financially. Splitting money that goes into a household is a mark of basic respect for what one another are doing, and should be automatic so long as both of those partners help to maintain their standard of life. Jobs need doing, kids need raising, money needs acquiring. Whoever’s doing what, we should stop treating money as if it’s the new anal sex and start discussing it openly like the cold, hard cash that it is.