Arts & Life

Straight Shooters: Dollars and Sense

Samantha and Gordon have been together for 21 years. They are both writers and comics, with Samantha also an animal care giver, and Gordon a musician. They bear witness to the troubles and tribulations of other twosomes with a deep sympathy born from their own experiences together. In this space, they will share what has often been hard-won wisdom, in the happy hope it will be of service.

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Statistically speaking, money issues comprise the largest percentage of reasons why couples split up. It is those deceptively innocuous bits of paper that can mark the rise or ruin of us all.  Perhaps we would all be happier within the confines of the barter system, or a truly communal existence wherein we are all provided for. As it stands, we exist in an über-capitalist society where compulsive consumerism and massive debt are often the norm, so couples are not only disagreeing on what they are spending their money, but simultaneously being crushed under massive monies owing. For many, appearances are key, and they will teeter at the lip of the yawning chasm of bankruptcy to preserve the lifestyle where illusion is paramount. Others repeatedly choose short-term gain over long term wins, ignoring the credit card bills crouching in their mailbox in favour of a cute outfit to wow the gang on Saturday night.

The strain of couples wherein one is sensible with money and the other wilfully wanton is enormous. To watch one’s hard earned money vaporise on the idiot trinkets and borrowed self-esteem on which your partner depends must be deeply enraging.

Gord and I have somewhat similar views on money. When we get it I like to immediately spend it on mostly sensible things (bills, food) so that I don’t fritter it away on crap, and it is so very easy to fritter! Food is the biggest tempter for me. I love eating out and ordering in, particularly after an endless work day where meal preparation is not on the menu. Neither of us have the slightest interest in going out to dine without having a few cocktails to enhance the experience further, and thus the tab rolls ever upward. If we went out to dinner to a nice little place once a week (we don’t) that can reach $400 bucks a month, and the thought of where that money could instead go makes me shudder prettily.

One’s relationship with the bitter green is something which must be discussed before moving into a serious relationship. It is right up there with kids, and as important as compatibility in bed. It will make the difference between a simpatico life together and one of bone-deep resentment and fury. A frank discussion averts years of petty squabbling, dispersing the rank stench of desperation that can sour the stoutest heart. Money issues send snaking tendrils of poison around what would otherwise be an Oak strong union. It has toppled the best of us.


Don’t listen to a word this crazy bitch says. Each morning we take baths in our money bin, and, paper cuts aside, it’s a great way to get the little exercise we require to peer down at the minions hard at work hand polishing the money bin doors. Many have asked why we give no money to family, friends or charities. The answer is quite simple: we are too busy counting it and bathing in it to even remember you people. So you see the moebius strip in which we are trapped. (Indeed, one day last week Sammy went under beneath a stack of fifties and it didn’t look like she was coming back up. Most upsetting.)

The problem most couples have with money is miscommunication and the roles played out are not gender specific.  I know twosomes where she’s wringing her hands over her savings and he’s buying a jet ski, and other duos where he’s thinking about retirement and she’s just bought the Shroud of Turin and fashioned herself a pantsuit. Lately, I myself have had the overwhelming desire to buy a foosball table without ever having played it or knowing what it is. Similarly, I once tried to buy the Houston Astrodome just because I like the name.  Aaaaaaassstrodoooome….

Where was I?

Money will be as big an issue as you allow it to be, and if buying things gets you hard, so much the worse.  Fighting about money is often an indicator of larger issues slumbering beneath. Neglected partners, craving tenderness, may find solace in expenditure and that is a real problem.  Look at what the two of you have together and see, perhaps for the first time, how rich beyond counting you really are.

Samantha can be reached at

Gordon at

They both cheerfully encourage queries and feedback.