Money problems can be the death of a relationship. It’s the biggest bone of contention, along with sex and children, that couples fight over. This is universal, no matter what age, religion, nationality, or color you are. However, since people who come together in interracial relationships are generally from different cultural backgrounds, does this play a significant role?
Do interracial couples have worse issues over money than same-race couples?
Yes and no. Individual results always vary; some people are great with money, and some people don’t ever seem to have two dimes to rub together. An individual sense of responsibility or care about things, including financial things, is the main factor in any given dynamic. And, as in most other areas, people with similar styles will clash less. Two tightwads will be happy rinsing and re-using paper towels together. And two free-wheelers will have plenty of interesting stories about the time they had to spend the night under a bridge or hitchhike in the back of a pickup truck. It’s when a frugal person hooks up with a financial ditz that trouble is going to ensue. When it comes to individuals, race isn’t a factor.
However, there may be some issues that are race-based. Different races can have different outlooks about money based on typical cultural and common socio-economical differences.
In the Asian community, there is a very strong sense of collectivism. One can observe this from the ways servers in Chinese and Japanese restaurants pool their tips to things like the “savings clubs” that Asian people join. Each one gives some money and one takes the total amount to make a major purchase that they otherwise couldn’t afford, like buying a car or a house. Then they are expected to contribute back into the pot, which goes around again for someone else, and so forth.
This relies very much on trust and also peer pressure; some who might not really feel like participating may do so because it is expected within the community. A partner of another race might find this unreasonable, so the Asian partner gets pressure from both sides. Also, Asian collectivism tends to rope people into multi-level marketing and pyramid schemes. This can also cause friction with their non-Asian partner.
Partners who are black may have grown up disadvantaged, since historically the deck has been stacked against them where financial opportunities are concerned. Poverty can be a mire that is hard to escape, even with hard work, and when you do get money, it’s tempting to spend it to have a little fun–damn the light bill. This is illustrated in the recent song “Time of Our Lives” by Pitbull and Ne-Yo:
I knew my rent was gon’ be late about a week ago
I worked my ass off, but I still can’t pay it though
But I got just enough
To get up in this club
Have me a good time, before my time is up
Rap culture, also an important influence in the black community, puts an emphasis on the material things money can buy, name-checking designers and bragging about pouring out $2000 bottles of Louis XIII. They paint a picture of easy money and the high life, making people almost desperate to grab a little bit of that for themselves. It’s no wonder that someone might want to show off in the club instead of paying rent, but ignoring critical expenses in favor of over-priced consumables can make the non-black partner feel like their mate is deliberately trying to keep them broke.
White people have their own challenges. Since they are typically advantaged over other races, there is a lot of pressure to be successful. And if they don’t get the breaks that they are “supposed to” from their non-white partner’s perspective, they’re likely not to get much sympathy at home.
If the white partner is successful and their non-white partner is not, they might not be understanding. This is because they simply have never had to deal with the institutionalized racism that people of color encounter. They can be in denial that it even exists, thinking their partner is just making excuses. This can be infuriating for the non-white partner. If the white person never had to worry about money, they may be irresponsible with spending. This may cause arguments with a partner who may have had to grow up keeping things lean and takes money more seriously.
Latino culture is very strongly centers on family. However, it is a “traditional” family, with the husband working and the wife raising the children. If the non-Latino woman wants to put off having kids to focus on her career, she might get some pressure from her man. Conversely, a non-Latino man might think his Latina partner is not pulling her weight if she expects to be a stay-at-home mom. Or she may resent him if he is not able to fulfill the “provider” role easily. Pressure might also come from the older relatives, who are more likely to be immigrants. It may also come from those more rooted in the traditional ways, even if the partners themselves aren’t.
All in all, many factors come into play. Being more understanding about your partner’s cultural heritage is always a plus. But individual styles are most likely to determine whether money problems crop up. If you spend more than you make, that’s a recipe for disaster, regardless of where, or who, you come from.