Forget ownership of yachts and Ferraris: on my post-marriage dating checklist ‘an abundance of money’ was a low priority.
Consequently I ended up going out with everyone from impoverished creatives to millionaire CEOs.
Rather than material wealth, I admit I’ve always been much more interested in superficial physical attributes (strong arms, twinkly eyes, thigh circumference bigger than mine), as well as the more wholesome traits of kindness, loyalty and wit. When I met my boyfriend (who then became my husband) at university, I knew he was never going to go into the City and earn megabucks. And that was fine with me because, hey, it’s the 21st century, and I can make my own money.
As wealth was so unimportant to my younger, idealistic self, I could never understand those reports that said money was the number-one reason why couples split up. Of all the things to divorce over, surely the overdraft wasn’t one of them?
I could understand if your libidos weren’t compatible, or if you wanted to live in the country and your other half didn’t, or if they licked their plate clean and thought Kim Jong-un was a decent chap. But money? How crass. And to go out with someone purely based on the noughts on their bank balance?
Now I’m older I still feel the same. (Although I was somewhat tempted when approached by an introduction service whose clients had a net wealth averaging £50 million – but that’s a whole other story…)
I’ve realised that both the younger and older me were missing the point. In another post-divorce revelatory moment, I sussed it was not about how much money somebody makes, but their attitude towards it. Whether they liked to spend or save; if they’re a flash Harry or a steady Eddie.
Full disclosure: I am both a spender and a scrimper. Much to my children’s mortification, I take my own popcorn to the cinema and I know the words for tap water in seven different languages. I want to bang my head on the till when I forget to take my shopping bags to the supermarket. And if I get a free flight on air miles I am grinning inanely in my seat the whole way to my destination. But while I love a deal, I’m also about splashing out on the finer things.
A ‘live for today’ type who likes cashmere, cocktails and expensive candles. My ex-husband once said that lighting one was like burning fivers. I like staying in hotels where you don’t think the bedspread should carry a health warning.
My ex was ‘careful’ with money. When we first met in student halls, his room was like a monastic cell. He wasn’t going to waste his cash on Red Hot Chili Peppers posters and a lava lamp. For food, he and his mates went to Kwik Save to stock up on the No Frills range.
In the beginning we thought our differences were funny. And then came children. And mortgages. And things got tight. Our incomes, always fairly equal, suddenly were not. I thought it was reasonable that we had carpets upstairs. The thermostat became a friction point. Our differences became less amusing.
For both of us. Eventually we became one of the statistics. Money did divide us.
Now, in my relatively new relationship, I am hoping that the boyfriend and I are financially compatible.
So far, so good. He seems to have a similar spend-and-save ethos to me– he loves a five-bubble spa and premium toothpaste, but today, when he cashed in his coffee loyalty card for a free cappuccino, he was happier than a Kardashian in a diamond store.
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