Finances are one of the most argued about topics in relationships. But, money is meaningless on its own. You don’t want just any green paper with faces on it. Instead, you want money because of what it means to you. It could mean freedom, quality time, responsibility, control, fun, status, literally anything… YOU put the label on it and it is a paper version of that value. The fact that you have a limited amount of this value is scary and it can be tough to talk about when/how to use it or give it away. And it can be especially tough when you try talking to your spouse about it.
If you’ve tried these strategic tips to resolve money issues (i.e. being transparent, negotiating, discussing goals, etc.) and they have not worked, then these 3 steps are for you.
First, Define What Money Means To You
Now that you know that it could mean anything to you, it’s important that you find out what it means. Think back to your childhood. What did money mean to your parents? For example, was it a way for them to spend quality time with you or was it a way to control you? Think about what it means to you as an individual and in your relationships. What do you use money for other than simply paying your bills? Is it a means to have fun? Something to save so you have peace of mind for your future? As you think about it, you should eventually be able to decide that it means a certain value to you. Once you find out what money means to you, you can begin to have a more clear conversation about it
Second, Know That Your Actual Value Is Unlimited
Know that the value you have assigned to it is unlimited (even though money is not) because it can be achieved through other avenues than money. For example, if you’ve discovered that money means quality time, then think about things can you do with your partner for free. If it means responsibility, how can you demonstrate that you are responsible besides showing off what you can afford?
If you know that you can have an endless amount of your value (without feeling like there is a scarce amount), the feeling of abundance will make it easier to chat about it because it’ll feel like less of a hot topic. It is much more difficult to talk about something when it feels like there is very little of it. Imagine talking about who will get the last drops of water in a starving country versus talking about who will get the last breadstick when you are already full from your meal. The breadstick conversation is exponentially easier because you do not need it, you were satisfied already. The same goes with money. Once you realize that the things you value are able to be accomplished without money then talking about money becomes a lot easier.
Third, Talk About Your Value Then Talk About Money
Now that you know the value that you’re assigning to money and you also know that there are other ways to achieve it, talk about how to achieve your value together with your partner. This part can be fun because you finally find momentum in your conversations. You begin to talk about the actual issue. This conversation will translate to your conversations about money. Whatever issues that you were having previously will be resolved easier because you can talk about money in a more calm and abundant state of mind.
Give it a try, first define what money means to you and what value it is substituting. After, know that the value is unlimited even though money is not. Then, talk about the value and how to achieve it. Finally, you will be able to talk about money from a more calm and abundant mood.
About The Author
Chris Cummins is a couples counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He focuses on working with with couples in high conflict and couples who are experiencing substance abuse. Living in Colorado, Chris enjoys hiking traveling and anything else outdoors.