The best way to assess your relationship with money is to use the same criteria as you would use with any important relationship…how is your behavior expressed through love and other positive emotions? You can’t enjoy a good relationship with money unless you’re willing to love it–and ACT like you love it–through thick and thin.
Love As Behavior, Not Emotion
When we choose to love our cat even though she scratched us, that’s love. Or when we choose to help our child solve a problem with all of our patience, resources and energy—even though we might be running low on all of those qualities—that’s love too.
We know we’ve invested our love in the right way when our relationships continue to improve. Our relationship with money will improve too, as long as we honor it as we do the other important relationships in our lives.
Here are 15 ways you can work to improve your relationship with money:
Pay Attention. When your loved one comes into the room, you acknowledge him or her. Even if you don’t have time or your hands are full, you still pay attention. You would never roll your eyes and tell them, “I’ll deal with you later!”
Make Time. Date night for couples is every bit as important as setting a date to make time for money in your life. You respect what you inspect. This is how you improve your competency.
Prioritize. As we get older and our lives get fuller, we must choose how we spend our time. Whether this is conscious or unconscious, our priorities create our value system. If you want to place more value on money in your life, you have to make a conscious choice to prioritize it.
Celebrate. When a kid achieves something, you put the medal, certificate or piece of art on the fridge. When you feel like you’ve made some progress with your money relationship, you must allow yourself the same moment of recognition. You’d never tell your kid, “Well, I guess that’s okay, but I expect a lot more from you in the future!”
Forgive. When a loved one makes a mistake, you don’t flip out on them (I hope you don’t!); you acknowledge they did their best, forgive them and move on. When money doesn’t come soon enough, or you find yourself earning less than you hoped for, you need to remember that this is one blip in a relationship that lasts a lifetime . . . and move on.
Keep A Sense of Humor. Have you noticed that it’s more fun to be with someone when they are willing to laugh at themselves? Those characteristics of self awareness and the willingness to not take themselves so seriously is a killer combination for successful relationships. Money doesn’t have to be super serious; in fact, it’s better when it’s not.
Respect. With loved ones, you don’t simply take their voice or presence for granted—or if you do, you’re not going to get the kind of relationship you want. You money is always trying to tell you something, so you need to pay attention and look for the clues.
Don’t Manipulate It or Try Power Plays. With people and things you really love, you don’t really think about the balance of power. And if you love someone, you’d never want them to do something just because you manipulated them into doing it (unless you’re codependent). If you’re hoping to get money from someone who you perceive to be in a power struggle with you, it will come very slowly. Eliminate the ideas of power from your thoughts about money and it will flow much more easily.
Don’t Blame It For Your Bad Mood. Money is never the reason you’re in a bad mood; it’s your perception of the situation that causes you fear and pain. When you think you’re mad at money, you need to pull back the lens and try to understand how your thinking got you to this place. You can’t heal your emotional life with intellectual thought, but you can start to understand your triggers.
No Quid Pro Quo. Quid Pro Quo means a more-or-less equal exchange or substitution of goods or services—you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Can you imagine setting up this kind of arrangement with a loved one? With a monetary situation, this kind of dynamic is bound to make you feel like you got the short end of the deal, regardless of the arrangement.
Seek To Understand. When something happens in your family or friendships that you weren’t expecting, you find out all of the details before moving forward. When something happens with your money, you need to devote the same attention to understanding the dynamic before jumping to the wrong conclusion. You may find your knee-jerk initial response to the situation is wrong, once you review the facts calmly.
Don’t Lose Yourself. This is a tip from conscious spending; you need to know exactly how you feel about all of the different ways your money leaves your accounts. If you’re not happy about any one of them, you need to stop. If you’re unconscious about your money, then your relationship is on the decline. Another name for this is money fog.
Recognize Difference Between Want and Need. You WANT your child to be an NBA superstar, but you need him to be kind, thoughtful and compassionate person. If this is a romantic relationship, one is a deal breaker and one isn’t. With your money, you WANT to go on an African safari, but you need to meet all of your expenses. There is room for Wants, but they need to be in alignment with your current circumstances and not just driven from your ego.
Seek Clarity. If you’re not clear about what is happening in a relationship with someone or something else, chances are they don’t know either. You always have the choice to let a situation remain ambiguous or to choose clarity. The results of clarity may not be pretty (and you may have to move past some shame-filled thoughts), but it’s far better to be clear about the ugly truth than to be uncertain about an attractive ambiguity.
Have Faith In Long Term Vision. Relationships are seasonal; sometimes they are exciting, and other times they just quietly exist in the background. Nothing is static. The same is true of your relationship with money—it can’t be all rainbows and parades. That’s when you must make the choice to love it anyway.
Bottom line, if you haven’t made a choice about how you feel about your financial life, it’s the same as when you put off making a decision about whether or not your current beau should stay or go. You think you’re on the fence because of something external, when in reality, it’s you, refusing to accumulate the data needed so that you can make an informed choice. Change can be painful—but on the other side of the pain is a money relationship full of love and freedom; it’s only waiting for you to decide.
P.S. If you’d like some support through your journey, sign up for my library of free resources – one opt-in and then you get everything in one place! Do that here.