In addition to money personalities, there are male-female difference in approaches to money that haunt many relationships. It could be said that some difference reflect men as hunters and women as gatherers. In his theatre piece, ‘Defending the Caveman’, Rob Becker describes men: They go out and buy a shirt, wear it until it dies, then go out and kill another shirt. Women, in contrast, gather. They shop for a scarf for a niece for next Christmas and for a shirt for their son-in-law.
Other pervasive money differences exit between the genders. First, men and women have differences of personal boundaries because they are both raised largely by women. Men have to psychologically separate more rigidly from women because of the sex difference; women do not have to separate so rigidly, and therefore can afford less distinct boundaries.
Second, men are raised to see the world as hierarchical and competitive. There’s always a one-up and one-down position, a winner and a loser. Women see the world as cooperative and democratic; they share. In addition, they are allowed – even encouraged – to be needy and vulnerable, while men are discouraged from such display.
The boundary and hierarchical differences between men and women lead to clashes around money decision-making. Men think nothing of going out alone and buying a big screen TV or even the family car or computer, then coming home and saying, “Hi honey, I have a new car.” A woman will say, “Why didn’t you consult me? I thought we were a team. “And he’ll retort, “Are you my mother? Do I have to ask your permission?”
Because of their more rigid boundaries, men think of themselves as islands and withdraw when facing difficulties of intimacy. They don’t see themselves as part of a team. And, of course, men and women are raised to believe different things about the way they should actually handle money. Despite many social changes, men are still bred to believe they will be good at dealing with money, although nobody tells them how to do it. In that way, money is like sex; they’re just supposed to know. Women are raised to believe they won’t be good at it and, if they’re lucky, some man will take care of the details of money and investing.