In retrospect, I can tell you these arguments were completely irrational. We were both working hard and making ends meet. Whenever I checked the online banking statements, the money was there. But I never felt abundant. I truly believed that I would die alone and penniless. (The alone outcome scared me far less than being penniless.) It was a story to which I was so attached that through the force of my energy I was bending our reality to almost insure that our finances were a house of cards ready to collapse at any moment. And my staunch unwillingness to meet my husband in a place of mutual respect where we could talk about these deep values was eating away at our intimacy.
You see, when couples fight about money, their respective positions deeply reflect their core values. And as time goes on, this polarization becomes caustic and like a strong acid, it eats away at the very foundation of the relationship. The unwillingness to appreciate and sympathetically discuss your conflicting attitudes and beliefs eventually creates all kinds of misunderstandings and hurt feelings. If the arguing persists, one day you will find yourself believing that you’re better off alone than constantly fighting over money.
It took time and introspection, but when I could finally articulate what money represented (safety, security, self-esteem, protection, and ultimately freedom and independence) which translated into me being a SAVER (or as he saw it, a miser); and he could identify all that it represented to him (feelings of competence, power, control, happiness and a celebration of hard work) which translated into him being a SPENDER (or as I saw it a spendthrift). we began to gain a greater appreciation for why we were so conflicted. That compassion and deeper understanding created the foundation for learning how to have the tough discussions in a mutually respectful manner and eventually building a strong financial future together.
Why Couples Have Problems Communicating About Finances
Our opinions and values regarding wealth, abundance, and worthiness almost always stem from our upbringing. That’s why so many couples have issues talking about money. Some of us had lots of direction growing up when it came to money management. And some of us watched our parents struggle with not having enough money to buy sufficient food or clothing. Then there are those who witnessed non-stop conflict between their parents over money, a constant source of strife, screaming and suffering. We bring these emotional artifacts of those experiences into our present attitudes about money.
As adults, we can choose to recognize those artifacts, and we can recognize what’s healthy and productive, and what’s not. We can courageously learn to replace those old artifacts with an increasingly positive mindset where wealth – and worthiness – are concerned. Opening ourselves up to our partner to reveal and release the negative while nurturing the positive is a wonderful experience.