Dear Aunt Silvia
My wife is pressurising me to build a larger house. We have two children and are planning for two more. I would not have a problem doing this for her if I felt her motivation came from a genuine concern.
However, I think she is requesting this only to ‘keep up with the Joneses’. I refuse to get caught up in all the image drama that goes on in this city. She is always comparing our living standards with others who live more lavishly.
There are things more important than living in a big house and driving flashy cars. How do I convince her to see things the way I do?
Today’s society ranks social class and status according to how ostentatiously one can display their material wealth. As a result, many are caught up in ‘keeping up with the Joneses’.
Once caught up in the game, it becomes a vicious cycle — the more you get, the more you want. It begins with the side screen TV, then the latest 4X4 or Mercedes, progressing to the huge house on the hill. When finally you have all the material things that you longed for, you grow dissatisfied because these same possessions lose their appeal and lustre.
Again you find yourself longing for other things. Such are the drawbacks of human nature.
You strongly believe that your wife is caught up in this game. She pays great attention to how others live and compares it with how you live. In her eyes, as a family you have come up short otherwise she would not be requesting an upgrade of your living quarters.
This no doubt puts a lot of pressure on you and conflicts are bound to arise because of your differing perspectives.
Money is worshipped and those with hefty amounts are put high up on pedestals. Unfortunately, this translates to many individuals deriving their self-esteem and confidence from material wealth. Luckily, you have stayed clear of this trap.
Share your values on acquiring and managing wealth with your wife. Get her to distinguish what are ‘wants’ and what are ‘needs’.
It makes little sense to jump into buying or building a bigger home if it puts you in debt and only serves to boost your public image as a family. Regardless of how lavish the lifestyle of your peers let her know there are other ways to earn respect in society.
If having money equals having self-worth, then what happens to that self-worth when that money disappears or decreases? It is a dangerous creed to live by and impossible to sustain.
Stick to your personal values and beliefs and in so doing you will experience freedom —freedom to live life according to your own principles and not those imposed on you by others in society.
In this way other people’s judgment of you will have no impact and comparing yourselves to others will become a thing of the past