Couples and Money
I was discussing my work in a recent meeting with four other people. Out of those four, two of them said that they had secrets from their partners about money. Out of the other two, one was single!
Money is the biggest conflict area in relationships, which is sad because it can be very simple to resolve, even without changing the actual numbers!
When two sets of money attitudes and beliefs come together to manage money you end up with a system which has a whole identity of its own.
Sara and Ian
Sara's parents were hard working professionals with a strong work ethic. They never had much to spare but they didn't struggle either. Felicity grew up knowing how to manage money wisely but never having much left for luxuries.
Ian came from a poor background and grew up with a stepfather who drank and blamed Ian for the lack of money available when he needed a drink. Ian was very avoidant when it came to money. He had a low income job and Sara paid most of the bills. Ian would occasionally spend money and hide what he bought.
When they began looking at their money Sara found it hard to admit she resented Ian's dependency on her. Ian blamed himself and found it hard to track his spending.
Realising how important it was to their relationship Ian continued with the work and took more responsibility for managing their money. Sara felt a weight lifting from her. Ian now clearly saw that they needed to increase their income if they were to start a family and he began to study so he could get a better job.
Each person is affected by their past. They have their own particular money issues then they come together and find a way of managing money that causes the fewest arguments, not necessarily the way that works the best!
And relationships can carry on for many years in this way. But eventually some extra pressure on finances will come up; illness, children, wanting to do further study, or unexpected job loss, and the lid will blow off the pot.
Three Essentials for Money Harmony
Assume each of your money issues and behaviours are having an equal impact on your relationship. It may not look like this. It may seem like one of you is "good with money" but that can be the result of over controlling behaviour and can lead to 'enabling' the avoidance/denial/overspending the other person may be doing.
Take some time to listen to the other's feelings about money. Do this from a place of judgement free compassion. Once you understand the reasons for your partner's behaviour you can change how you manage you money accordingly.
For example build into your plan enough money for Jed to go to the pub a couple of nights a week if that's really important time for him to spend with his mates. Make sure Suzi has a budget for a weekly manicure if she works in retail and needs her hands to be presentable.
This kind of planning and attention to detail takes the tension and guilt out of the spending and means there are less things to argue about.
Blame free zone
Make money a topic where you each really practice taking responsibility for your own stuff. This means noticing when you want to blame or when you feel resentful....and look for what you could do differently so those feelings don't come up.
Working with a coach will help you understand how and why your money habits exist but you can also have a go on your own to set up a system where each of you feels heard and accepted. When responsibility for managing money is shared, all those undercurrents and arguments disappear. The foundations are solid.
You can choose any aspect of relationships to use as a tool for deepening your connection. Isn't money a great one to work with? Not only does your relationship improve but your finances do as well. You can't lose!
Not Another Gratitude Blog?
Was I the only one getting a bit worn down by all the New Year gratitude blogs?
The truth is I consider myself to be a total novice at gratitude. I'm not very good at generating specific feelings. I actually don't think many of us are. And I admit I take my privileged, first world lifestyle for granted all the time.
Maybe you're the same?
My Gratitude Journey
I've been challenged by my lack of gratitude for many years.
The reasons for this are:
1. I've been told countless times that gratitude holds the key to happiness, health and abundance and we all want more of THAT, right?
I believe in the Law of Attraction, that we will attract into our lives that which we put out into the world. I've seen it work countless times for myself and others. So it makes total sense to get into the habit of reflecting on the good stuff rather than the bad, which is what gratitude is all about.
2. There is sooooo much judgement around gratitude! And i judged myself about not feeling grateful. How could I NOT be grateful for the wonderful things i have in my life when so many are without even the basics and endure tremendous trauma.
Well I finally feel like i'm getting the hang of gratitude but it has taken a lot of honesty and self acceptance.
Once Upon a Time
Once Upon a Time I had the misfortune to find myself without parents.
I was estranged from my father and my mother had passed away. I'd just turned 14 so I was sent to live with foster parents who had no experience of parenting and had very different values and beliefs to my own parents. This was an incredibly difficult time for them and for me but the alternatives were even worse so we all just had to get on with it.
Many times during the 4 years I lived there I was told to be grateful for the roof I had over my head.
Surprisingly, this did not make me feel grateful!
In fact it reminded me of those Dickensian orphanages! Wasn't Oliver Twist told to be grateful?
I learnt first hand that you can't make somebody feel gratitude simply by telling them to.
I also found that it was not helpful to attempt to cover up emotions that need to be felt, either by false gratitude or any other positive feeling.
What Happened Next?
Well I had heaps of therapy of course!! :)) And still didn't feel much gratitude!
I was on a retreat several years ago, happily meditating, when we were encouraged by the teacher to feel grateful. I was used to the guilt, confusion and resentment that came up for me as this had happened many times before. But this time I decided to just sit with these feelings instead of trying to be grateful.
I let my self off the gratitude hook, totally.
It was a revelation in fact! And I continued to do it over and over.
I even confessed to people that I didn't really know what gratitude was because it was true! Obviously I understood the concept, and being brought up in the church I knew I should feel it, but I seriously had no actual inner experience that I could honestly, knowingly call gratitude.
So I owned that, totally!
I began to have experiences of what I instantly knew to be gratitude.
Without even trying.
Appreciating First World Privilege
You can maybe understand why a teenager can't appreciate a very difficult home life but as an adult I continued to struggle with feeling grateful for the amazing first world lifestyle I enjoy in Australia.
This is too big a subject to explore fully here but a key reason it's so hard to appreciate privilege is that we are wired up to normalise our experiences.
That is why travel and change are so refreshing! We crave new experiences, special, out of the ordinary times.
We get used to our surroundings and it then becomes very hard to appreciate them because the 'novelty' soon wears off and we're looking for the next stimulating experience.
We can slow this process down with mindfulness practices but it rarely ever stops completely for long periods. It's as though we have a 'What's next?' default.
However, if we feel guilty for our lack of appreciation we are simply adding a layer of toxic energy which is never helpful.
The biggest gift we can give somebody much less fortunate than ourselves is to grab our opportunities with both hands and live our lives to the full. Ultimately I believe this is the most helpful. Feeling guilty about what we have? Not so helpful.
My Gratitude Practice
Now I have a daily Gratitude Practice and I let myself play around with it.
Every evening I write down a few things that happened during the day that I appreciated, that were positive experiences. Warm interactions, little miracles, moments when I felt present.
I try to stay aware of when my focus shifts from a soft feeling in my heart centre to a sort of strain in my head or neck. For me that tells me I'm forcing something and I sense that it's counterproductive.
I've found that aiming for a list of a certain number of things is a really bad idea. I begin to force it straight away.
I'm very gentle with myself.
Your Gratitude Practice
Once you begin to write a few things down each day you will soon know if it's supporting you. Even if you have a strong "I SHOULD" feeling about the practice continue for one month then take two weeks off. Notice how you feel at the end of the two weeks off compared to how you felt at the end of the first month.
Look out for feelings of guilt and the energy of forcing. If they are coming up then don't try to change the feelings, just sit with them, let them be. This is your gratitude practice for now.
If, when you bring your awareness to the good things that have happened in each day, you experience positive feelings, then soak these up. This soaking IS real gratitude! And it will serve you and everyone else on the planet.
What about the Money?
Money is just another expression of how you show up and indicates how the world is interacting with you.
When it comes to feeling grateful for money you need to make sure you can do this in a totally clean way. Test it out and see how it feels. You will know if it doesn't feel right.
If your money gratitude is layered with guilt for having it, fear you will lose it or feelings that you don't really deserve it, then you need to address these issues with your preferred method of healing. I can also help you with that.
In the meantime focus on the positive things in your life which don't carry heavy emotional charges and get soaking!
Sent with Authentic Gratitude ;)
Christmas is a foggy time of year. I mean money fog rather than the damp cold kind.
We all want to focus on giving, to just relax and trust it will all work out. Worry about the bills in January.
Well as it's the time of year to unwrap things (eeek!) I'm going for the parcel labelled 'Trusting In The Flow' or similar!
Who do you think You Are?
We all identify with being a particular type of person. We may see ourselves as being creative, well organised, sporty, spiritual, earthy etc.
I want you to take a look at those identities you have that may be having a negative affect on your money. Letting go of these identities can be a bit tricky so I'm diving in by telling you about one of my massive shake ups!
My Lesson in Humility
Many years ago I had the great fortune to end up in a twelve step group. I had done heaps of therapy and was counselling people every day in my homeopathic practice, meditating, yoga-ing etc...and I was an emotional blob! (Yes because of a man!)
I turned up to this group wondering how these random, unqualified (gasp) people, with their own messy lives could possibly offer 'enlightened me' any support! But my wise homeopath and mentor had refused to see me again unless I went.
One of the slogans for the group was 'Take what you like and leave the rest.'
So I did that.
I was in that group for 3 years and during that time I found love, wisdom and support almost every time somebody in the group spoke. Sometimes I had to look hard for the gold but most of the time it was easy.
They changed my life. In fact I got more from that group than all the other stuff I did put together!
And it was a huge lesson in humility, much needed and well learnt.