Relationships and Money
Money is one of the big three issues in relationships. Interestingly enough, while a lot has been written about the psychology of money we still know very little about how it really works. Probably, because relatively speaking, its a new concept. What we do know is, that its tied to the major human emotions, like power, love, sex, happiness, jealousy, guilt, attraction, fear, joy, the list is endless. Yet for some reason in our relationship’s money is not a subject that gets talked about in a calm, relaxed, understanding way. More often talking about money is avoided, its a loaded subject. Frequently it can be the centre of angry confrontation between couples, parents, and teenagers.
Money and Me
How many times have you heard yourself say “money is too tight“, or I am operating on a “shoe string”. Did you ever stop to think what causes you to use this terms. Money is a topic that was probably an everyday subject growing up in most families and is probably still a subject that gets a regular airing in your own family today. In psychological terms there are strong links between food and money. So if you are Irish, there is a strong possibility that you believe there will never be enough money, or in some way money is a scarce commodity. Its part of our culture, which might have its links going back in time to the famine. Money and how we relate becomes part of our personal belief system, more likely coming from our family of origin and how they thought about and worked with money. Think back to childhood and you are likely to unearth the basis for your present belief system about money and how it works.
How we work with and use money is also tied into our personality. You will no doubt have observed that people who have strong conscientious traits are more likely to manage money well. On the other hand if you tend to operate on the higher end of the impulsive spectrum, money is something that seems to slip very easily through your fingers. You can observe these behaviours happening even with siblings from the same family. However, that does not mean that a certain personality trait has you doomed to poverty. Personality traits operate on a continuum depending on a number of active issues like our current social environment. At this point you are probably thinking if our relationship with money is this complex, what chance have we got of managing its impact on our personal relationships.
Managing Money within our Relationships
There are a number of ways we can create a better relationship with money. It is possible not only to growing your relationship while at the same time avoid the negative impacts money can have on your personal relationships.
Have you ever observed young children and how they can be easily convinced of having a lot of money by giving them a handful of coins. Have you observed the smiles on their faces, their joy, and their innocence in these situations. Now think about the time when just a little bit older they scowled at you when you presented them with a fistful of coins. Yes, as they grow up they are no longer convinced by a coins, they instinctively know that paper money is far more valuable. In the game of life they have observed and learned. Like our children we need stop and learn as well.
Taking the time to learn about money, can be through observing and looking at how more experienced people use money. You too can learn about the successful relationships people have with money. A book that is well worth reading on the subject of money and realtionships is The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Financial Freedom ( Susan Hayes). Maybe you won’t follow all of her advice, but if you implement at least one or two idea’s that could have a positive influence on your relationship. Another step forward in managing money in your relationship is to communicate as a couple on a regular basis about your values and goals for money. Setting aside a specific planned time every week to discuss your values around money and how that plan gets played out in your relationship can be very healthy exercise for any couple. Many of us will recall stories about growing up informing me us of our parents attitude to money. Few of us however, consider the impact those stories have on our beliefs about money or the influence these beliefs have on our relationships today. Finally, spending time considering how accountable you are for using money and the shared financial responsibilities in your relationship, could lead to significant benefits. Is financial responsibility equally shared, is the responsibility balanced with the relationship.
In summary, money is one of the top three issues in relationships. Maybe you don’t know what a fugazi is in money terms, but there are three things you can do now to grow your relationship and reduce conflict;
- Learn about managing your money, preferably as a couple.
- Communicate about money regularly, honestly and consistently as a couple.
- Take personal responsibility for managing money and be accountable to each other.
The last words on money and relationships I will leave to Susan Hayes, (read page 172 of her book), along with one of my own personal beliefs about money which is here on this link.