Jenev Caddell, PsyD joins Creative Money again to share her wisdom on helping couples get the most out of their communications around money. I asked her two specific questions, read on!
What are some of the DON’Ts or MUST-DOs that couples need to be on the lookout for to make sure they discuss (and argue about) money in the most productive way?
Whenever couples get into that kind of blood-boiling, rip-your-hair-out, bang-your-head-into-the-wall kind of fight, the argument is never really about the topic at hand.
Sure, it can be frustrating if you see something one way and if your partner sees something another, but too many couples make the mistake of letting the disagreement overtake their relationship. This happens all too often with the money conversation. Financial problems are typically cited as one of the main reasons why couples split, but in reality, it’s rarely just about the money. More commonly, the money is the surface problem, and becomes the scapegoat.
So what’s the fight really about, you’re wondering? (And remember, I’m only speaking about those arguments that make you want to put your head or more commonly, your partner’s head, through a window.) It’s about feeling seen, heard, understood or prioritized. When each of you unknowingly appear to value your position on money above your commitment to each other, that’s when things start to fall apart. That’s when two people dig in their heels, are unable to actually hear or see each other, and a distance and resentment arises.
The DON’T in a discussion around money is then to shut out your partner and his or her feelings, beliefs or behaviors around money.
What you MUST-DO is to really be clear with each other that your commitment to the relationship is stronger than anything about the money. When you and your partner have a solid commitment and strong emotional connection with each other, unless something rattles that bond, you’ll be able to tackle any conversation. You may continue to argue and fight, but if you do so in a way that doesn’t threaten that sense of commitment that you have to each other, the difficult conversations will become that much easier.
Are there any particular activities, mindsets, behaviors or conversations that are essential to couples and conflict?
Dr. Sue Johnson is an author, psychologist and couples therapist extraordinaire who has started a revolution around our understanding of love and how it works. She speaks about three key qualities that couples need to have in their relationships in order to be stronger together and to be able to take on conflicts that arise.
These 3 key qualities can be remembered by the acronym, “A.R.E.,” which stands for, “Accessibility,” “Responsiveness,” and “Emotional Engagement.” When partners are able to be accessible to each other, responsive to each other, and emotionally engaged with each other, they give each other the message that they are there for each other, they are important and valued to each other, and they can feel safe with each other.
This foundation offers a relationship the strength it needs to be able to withstand some of the more difficult conflicts that might arise in a relationship, particularly financial ones. (To learn more about the revolution in love that Dr. Sue Johnson is leading, check out her latest book: Love Sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Love.)
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 http://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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