This post is the first in a series of guest posts that focus on getting the most from your money life when it intersects with your love life.
Financial issues are one of the most commonly cited problems in relationships.
Here’s the thing:
When you feel like you have a solid connection with your partner, even the most difficult issues can be easy to work out.
Well…maybe not easy, but they don’t feel as impossible as they would if your connection was insecure.
Money is a prime example.
If you come from different backgrounds and different value systems regarding money, it is easy to clash heads.
The clashing becomes a huge problem when you start to take it personally.
When you start feeling that:
- Your partner is being difficult just to spite you;
- Your partner doesn’t acknowledge you or your perspective on finances;
- Your partner is completely dismissive of you;
- Your partner criticizes you regardless of what you say or do;
- You’ll never be able to get on the same page as your partner, no matter what…
…if you’re feeling these things, then you have a larger problem than the fact that you butt heads over finances.
Money can be an easy thing to blame your relationship problems on.
But if you aren’t having relationship problems, you may just have disagreements around money.
Of course, this can be a problem if you can’t learn to compromise or can’t figure a way of working things out. But it is more easily handled when you understand that you come from different places on money rather than feeling totally dismissed or criticized by your partner.
So here’s what to do:
1. Get clear on your money mindsets and where they came from
Recognize and respect the fact that your families likely have different mentalities around money, and as a result, you both might as well.
Together, take a good look at your money “mindsets” and be explicit about what those mindsets are.
With a clear understanding of your own and each other’s money “mindsets,” you will have a better understanding of where your disagreements may lie.
You will be less likely to take it personally knowing that such disagreements aren’t a result of your partner being difficult or invalidating of your perspective, but that your partner is coming from their own place about money, which is just as valid to them as yours is to you.
2. Evaluate your money mindset and if it makes sense to keep or change
Knowing more explicitly what your money mindset is and not just taking it for granted, you will be able to evaluate such mindsets and whether they are worth maintaining.
If your parents grew up poor and yet you are doing fine financially, you may still hang onto a limiting poverty stricken mindset that might be worth looking at and changing.
Do this together- you may not agree on what your “mindset” together as a couple should be, but understanding each others’ preferred mindset should help you understand your partner’s perspective around money. Respect it.
3. Reassure each other that your disagreements are about money, not about whether you chose the right partner
Stay connected. Couples who are strongly connected can engage in the most brutal of arguments or disagreements but in a way that is not detrimental to their relationships because they are both secure in the fact that their relationship is strong. They know that ultimately, that’s what’s most important.
If you don’t have a solid foundation, create one.
If your money arguments feel like they threaten the very core of your relationship, maybe get some help.
If you can’t make it to NYC and want to work with a therapist in your part of the world who is trained in a scientifically proven way of helping couples strengthen their connections, check out the International Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy’s therapist locator.
Cheers to your relationship, and to your financial abundance!
Jenev Caddell, PsyD, is a psychologist, coach and Emotionally Focused Therapist who specializes in helping people achieve their best relationships.
She is the author of Your Best Love: A Couple’s Workbook and Guide to Their Best Relationship and is the Mental Health expert on About.com.
Dr. Caddell is the founder of www.mybestrelationship.com, and practices in New York City. She is lit up by all things entrepreneurial, and the topic of money and relationships in particular.
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