Money is the root of all evil.
I hear that all the time. I hear about greed with the seven deadly sins in 12 step groups. All the time, people say that money doesn’t matter in the end. “You can’t take it with you,” they chuckle. The power, the pull and the attraction of money is so hard to resist.
It’s not about the money. It’s about power. It’s about the power that money gives me to satisfy my wants. And, if I satisfy more of my wants, if I get more money than you, I have more power. For a lot of women, it comes out in the activity of shopping. In recovery work, we are aware that shopping is an addiction because we are aware of the compulsion to spend and the momentary satisfaction that happens when we buy. We are also aware that it doesn’t last. You have to go back for more. It is a compulsion. If women are getting real about their addictions, most of them will mention shopping. It is a lust for power.
I remember that movie with Demi Moore called Indecent Proposal. The question we were all asking was “would you?”. We could all speculate as to whether we would or not, but, frankly, unless you are really confronted with the power and the pull of that money, you don’t know what you would do. Workaholism is an acceptable and almost desirable addiction in our society. In fact, when I’m dating, I’ve had men actually brag about being a workaholic. I see it as an addiction. I don’t want to be with that. But, some people see it as a badge of honor. I’ve been married to two workaholics. It destroys relationships. Now, if I want to be in a relationship with money, a workaholic might be a good option. But, I don’t. I’ve been there. It’s a lonely place to be.
Money is a factor in most marital problems. Having too much money can be just as problematic as not having enough. I never really had too much but I did have enough to fight with my spouse over how to spend the money. The underlying message was “who is in control?”…….”who has the power in the relationship?” My second husband was a workaholic who was addicted to the power of money. I took some time off to go to graduate school, and his income supported us. This was a decision we made together. The entire time I was in school, all I heard was how I was not contributing to the family income. Now, I was making an investment in my money-making power for the future. As soon as I got in a position where I was making more money than he was, the marriage disintegrated. That wasn’t the only reason, but the final curtain was drawn when I at last I had some money-making power. In his mind, I had MORE power. The dynamics in the relationship changed dramatically.
Scarlett O’Hara was a perfect example of a woman who was entranced by money. And, it’s understandable. She was scared. She lost her family, and she was about to lose her heritage. At first, the draw of money was practical, but once she got a taste of it, she couldn’t let it go. That famous scene where she stands in the field and says, “As God is my witness, I will NEVER go hungry again.”, was the end of the first act. The understated vow she is making is that I will satisfy my hunger for money at the expense of everything else in my life. And, she did. Now, I love Scarlett O’Hara. I love her spunk. I love her tenacity. I love her sexual appeal. In a lot of ways, she embodies the powerful woman I’d like to be. But, her addiction to money and power robbed her of the most passionate relationship of her life. And, you know what…….that happens to most people who get addicted to money. It destroys their passion because their lust of money is an unquenchable hunger. No matter how much you have, there needs to be more.
Workaholics will work themselves to death literally because of their hunger for money….for power….for their self-worth….for their need to be appreciated. And, money does none of that. That is all done in relationship. How many times do you see the marriage of a workaholic with an overspender? I see it all the time. The struggle for power and attention becomes the focal point and problem of the relationship. The focus becomes the struggle over money, but the reality is that it’s a struggle for love, for being noticed, for being appreciated. But, all that gets lost. My ex complained that everyone was just worried about getting his money. He didn’t get that he showed love by giving them money. He didn’t have time for them; all he could do was give them money. So, they learned that love was money. The more money they got from him, the more they were loved. And, isn’t that really the unquenchable thirst, the thirst to be loved?