I’ve got a guilty little secret…
I still spend an inordinate amount of time watching Downton Abbey. (I know, not what you were thinking I was going to confess, right?) Years after its final episode, the show remains on repeat in my house, often in the background while I’m cleaning or writing an article, or working on my blog. Something interesting? In the entire six seasons, there was never a sexual encounter actually shown on screen.
Obviously, sex happened throughout the series, but only the mere suggestion of the act. And then we’d cut to a scene of the next morning and everyone is all tidy and dressed, sipping tea and talking about something else.
They do, however, spend a lot of time talking about money on the show.
Which got me to thinking about how life has changed from the early 20th century to now. I’m here to argue norms are now reversed – sex is now more cavalier, and talking about money is the ultimate taboo.
Why? Well, I’ve got a few theories.
#1 – Few People Know the Full Story
Think about how many sexual partners you’ve had. Now, think about how many people actually know your full money story: your credit score, your debt load, how much you make. All of it.
Which number is smaller?
For me, even though I write about money for a living, my husband is the only one I’ve shared the full financial enchilada. He is an ultra-frugal, high-earning super saver and always has been. When we got together, coming clean about my entrepreneur’s shoestring salary and money background was downright intimidating – much more so than being physically intimate.
#2 – Social Media Still Hasn’t Made Talking About Money Easier
Thanks to Instagram and Snapchat, every tiny moment of our lives can now be documented – food, experiences, outfits – it is all out there and on display. Sex is also everywhere you look on Instagram: thirst traps, thots, women (and men) in provocative clothing, splayed out in suggestive poses, no one bats an eye at it anymore. There are more photos of cleavage than bank account balances. More beauty product suggestions than money hacks.
I’m not knocking it – I’ve been guilty myself of arching my back and popping my booty out to get a cuter angle on a selfie. It’s just surprising how social media made everything so out front – except for people’s money habits.
It’s also easier than ever to portray a certain lifestyle on social media – if you can afford it or not is irrelevant. Few people want to actually come clean about the dollars and cents behind the highlight reel viewers see on social media.
#3 – Money and Feminism
Up until the mid 20th century, a woman’s sexual power was often the only tool at her disposal in which she could grow her economic power – via as a “working girl” or through an advantageous marriage.
Consider the following:
- Now, 70% of women participate in the workforce, and we hold over half of all Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees.
- At 40%, nearly half of American households now have a female breadwinner.
- Women control 51% of wealth, and this number will only grow as women are set to inherit the lion’s share of wealth in the coming decades.
These stats clearly illustrate women now have far more than just sexual power. With that said, it’s still a relatively new power (women couldn’t even get a credit card on their own four decades ago). Like the women who came before were judicious with their sexual partners, we have to be judicious with how we wield our biggest monetary advantages.
Since sex is no longer our only means of economic mobility, it can be given more freely. Sharing our monetary sphere with a partner? That’s a big deal.
As a newlywed in the process of joining finances with her partner, I now understand the full implications of what it means to share your entire life – including how you’ll fund both your lifestyle and your dreams.
Joining finances with my husband made me nervous at first. Mostly because I’d been used to spending my money the way I wanted to without any comment or oversight from anyone else for over ten years.
The idea of him looking over my shoulder at my spending habits, or trying to change how I approach my personal finances bothered me far more than any discovery about his past love life ever could.
Physical intimacy can deepen a relationship, but I’ve been surprised to learn that so can the fiscal kind. While scary at first, having a partner to help me work on my finances has helped me stay accountable and reach my money goals faster. Working on things together has deepened our relationship further still. Physical intimacy solidified our status as a couple but our joint financial goals are what made us a team.