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!