Featured Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay
“We need to talk about money”, says Mike quite forcefully, and I see his partner Sarah cringe. Money can be an uncomfortable topic for couples. Noticing Sarah’s response, I coach Mike to rephrase his sentence to “I would like to talk about money, and I am curious what is going on for you when I bring up that topic?” Now a dialogue develops with Sarah starting out with “I don’t like to talk about money” and “I don’t want to argue with you”, then going deeper with “I am embarrassed because I make less money than you” and finally having the courage to say “money problems trigger worries and fear in me”.
Mike grew up with a father who was successful in the corporate world. He and his brother learned to value making smart investments, saving for retirement, and owning your own house. His parents also had little understanding for people who were struggling financially. Sarah grew up with a single mother, who worked hard to support herself and her daughter. Even though her mother encouraged Sarah to take music lessons, art classes, and even travelled with her when she could afford it, Sarah always sensed her mother’s worries about the future and often felt guilty. Money was hardly talked about, or if it was a topic it was about not having quite enough.
Mike and Sarah were shaped by their individual backgrounds, values and beliefs they learned as children. That makes it harder to talk about finances but at the same time especially important. Only when they understand each other’s concerns and values and are able to empathize can they have productive conversation about one of the most important topics in relationships.
Our attitudes towards money are often based in our childhood experiences and the money beliefs we have learned. Not just understanding what motivates you and your partner to save and spend but working towards changing any limiting financial beliefs and limiting emotional connections allows you to work towards the same goals. That means forgiving yourself and your partner for financial mistakes in the past and moving forward to start afresh as a strong team.
The financial chores can be shared based on your strengths and preferences. Decide who is responsible for the day-to-day budgeting and keep each other informed about your joint finances. Transparency and respect are the key. A sure way to foster resentment is when one partner uses money as a means of power over the other partner.
Disagreements about money are a common cause for marriages and common law relationships to break down. It is important to speak about finances and to not have any secrets. Secret debt or secret savings never fail to cause a loss in trust. Honesty and trust are the basis for all well functioning relationships. If you are keeping a money secret from your partner, we can work with the fear, shame, or embarrassment, so you can come clean.
A joint account works well for joint responsibilities, but it is good to have separate accounts as well. This gives you some money to spend as you wish. Be clear on which areas are joint expenditure and which are not. If you have different income levels, contributing to joint expenses with an appropriate percentage is often the fairest agreement.
Here are some of the questions I ask couples on the intake questionnaire for my Course for Your Powerful Life Partnership:
Can you talk openly with your partner about money?
Is one of you more of a spender and the other one more of a saver?
How do you feel about borrowing money or being in debt?
Are you getting married and do you know your partner’s financial history?
Are you considering deepening your commitment by getting married or becoming common laws? Or are you at the beginning of your marriage and struggling in an area? Check out The Course for Your Powerful Life Partnership to create the rock-solid foundation your relationship deserves regarding finances and other key areas.
Reach out for a free consultation or to book a session. I see individual clients and couples via Zoom.
Belief Change & Relationship Coaching