Paula Abdul was right: opposites really do attract

photo by Rob Lee

If you’re wondering why so many couples fight about money, here’s your answer: Surveys of married adults consistently show that opposites attract when it comes to the type of spender you are. Stingy tightwads who just can’t bring themselves to reach for the wallet, even when they know they should, tend to shack up with reckless spendthrifts who just can’t help overspending, even when they know they shouldn’t. Researchers say this is because we’re attracted to people who don’t possess the characteristics we hate in ourselves. Unfortunately, however, even if you hate the fact that you’re a tightwad, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be happy when your mate splurges on a new big-screen TV. And vice versa — the spendthrift may hate their foolhardy ways, but that doesn’t mean they’ll enjoy being tamed (nor does it mean they’ll be happy watching movies on a TV the size of a postage stamp).

“For richer or poorer” takes on a whole new meaning if one of you is consistently making the household richer and the other is making it poorer. And sadly, this is one economic slump Obama can’t dig us out of. The solution? Well, until they invent a drug to change the nature of attraction, we guess we’ll all just have to be a bit more understanding about our partners’ attitude toward money. And here’s a tip: We once heard a financial advisor suggest putting a note reading “Do I really need this?” in your wallet. Spendthrifts, use it as inspiration to curb your conspicuous consumption. And tightwads, apply the “Do I really need this?” attitude to that dollar bill in your pocket. Because sometimes, money really can buy you love…or at least marital harmony.