We can’t tell you what the first thing is, because that would cause an even bigger fight. But the second thing is money – and who earns it

My wife Sam and I have two standard fights. She’ll punch me if I tell you about Fight #1. Fight #2 is all about money. Why? Because she makes more of it than I do, and the world is geared towards it being the other way around.

I’m a stay-at-home-dad, working as a freelance writer. She works a nine-to-five job in a big company, with all the perks and stresses.

We don’t just fight about money, obviously. We also fight about who forgot to prime the kids for Mother’s/Father’s Day, and whose parents we’ll be spending Christmas with. But these silly disagreements usually get resolved quickly.

The money fight is different

It’s a longstanding engagement. It always seems to simmer beneath the surface, only to bubble over when we’re least able to handle it.

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There are two main triggers for Fight #2: recurring budgetary bottlenecks, like having to pay school fee lump sums, and unpredictable but inevitable fiscal crises, like another burst geyser. Sometimes, both will strike simultaneously.

I’ll get defensive, because I feel guilty about not making more money. She’ll get angry about feeling trapped in the ‘permanent breadwinner’ role. We can always talk ourselves down from this ledge, but it’s hard and painful.

We’re not sure why.

In our sane moments, we’ve gone over this aspect of our relationship again and again

We run our family and household as equal partners. Each of us puts in a full day’s work. We make sure everyone’s needs are taken care of.

We’ve often talked about the way we each contribute to the household fiscus. Much of what I do is unpaid labour. I get no money for getting everyone else in the clan up, showered, fed and delivered to school or work on time every morning. Or the hours I spend shunting teenagers from extra murals to orthodontist’s appointments and back again.

Sam knows this and I know this, and I’m acutely aware of the irony of a man whinging about something women have complained about and lived with for years. I think we both appreciate each other’s workload and are happy with each other’s efforts. We also know that Fight #2 won’t ever be a real threat to our relationship.

So why do we keep on fighting?

Sadly, I have no glib answer, other than the vengeful nature of money itself. I’m not saying that to dodge responsibility. I know we need to trim expenses or make more money as a team. But short of us winning the lottery, I’m afraid Fight #2 is here to stay.

It could be worse. Fight #1 could be about sex!

Article by Andreas Wilson-Späth