As a partner, we often feel an obligation to pace ourselves with our significant others in most things, including financial success. If you find you’re meeting financial goals before he or she does, it can lead to feelings of guilt and even envy on the part of your partner. We’re going to look at why you shouldn’t feel guilty about this, and why envy on the part of your partner (to an extent) is a somewhat normal reaction and when it’s going too far.
Whether you’re married, engaged, or only dating, this information still applies to you. We tend to martyr ourselves on the altar of our relationships, putting the needs of the relationship before ourselves. The truth is, we can’t function well in a relationship if we don’t take care of ourselves first.
Here’s why you shouldn’t feel guilty about hitting financial goals first.
Not Everyone Starts Out The Same
It’s important to remember that not everyone starts in the same financial place in life. Some people grow up poor, with their parents having no real talent for managing money, and some people grow up with hedge fund managers and investors. Where we come from has a huge impact on our own financial awareness and success. If your parents were frivolous spenders, you might be, too. If they were wise with their money, they’ve likely passed down the habit.
Remember that your significant other might not have had the same financial awareness, training, or opportunities that you had (or have now). That’s something you can’t control, and you shouldn’t have to feel guilty about it.
Envy Is Normal…To An Extent
We all carry a small amount of envy when people reach goals before us or are more successful than us. This is healthy in small doses, as envy can actually be quite the motivator. However, when envy becomes toxic, it can lead to a guilt trip or other behavior aimed at making you feel more guilty about your success. Let’s be clear here: guilt-tripping is unacceptable and borderline abusive behavior. If someone is so jealous of your success that they strive to make you feel guilty about it, they have some insecurities that should be addressed.
You especially shouldn’t be getting this toxicity from your partner. They’re supposed to support and encourage you, not make you feel guilty for your progress!
Credit Score Matters
Some people struggle to maintain a good credit score, and it’s no surprise when you think about it. It’s difficult to keep your score up, and the health of your credit score can have a serious impact on your financial future. Maybe your partner has had multiple collections or other bad marks on their report, which can lower their score and prevent future creditors from lending them money.
You’ve taken care of your credit score, and carefully made decisions regarding borrowing money. You know what it takes now to keep it in good health. Don’t be afraid to share this valuable knowledge with your partner so that you can both grow together.
You and your partner are a team, and there’s no room for feelings like guilt and jealousy. It’s ok to feel guilty about things you’ve done wrong, but financial success is hardly a crime against the relationship. You can’t control what your partner does with his or her money, only what you do with yours.
This is a good time to mention caution when combining finances. Remember that when you get married, you share responsibility for a lot of financial burdens. It might seem cold or too practical, but you should get a good picture of your partner’s financial status before you marry or get too involved. You might find that financial goals diverge between you two, or that they owe thousands in credit card debt (yikes!).
Guilt Is An Inhibitor
Yes, guilt can motivate us to do kind things for others, but it can also be an inhibitor. When someone makes us feel guilty, for most of us, the default response is to make it right. If someone makes you feel guilty enough, you could end up changing your entire lifestyle to accommodate that guilt. Don’t do this, especially if you’re being guilt-tripped for your success.
The hard truth is that anyone who’s going to make you feel guilty for making good financial decisions isn’t a good partner for you.
The Bottom Line
Using guilt as a weapon to hold someone back is morally wrong and not conducive to a healthy relationship. If your partner is making you feel guilty, take the time to let them know how you’re feeling, and set some healthy boundaries. If those don’t work, it might be time to move on to someone who has a healthier and more mature mindset.