It’s not just the number of dollars in your bank account that makes us feel uneasy, worried or anxious. If our bills and expenses are bigger than the dollars in our account to pay them, that brings stress for most people. But it’s not that simple.
Money represents different things for each of us. And a lot of what it represents came from our early messaging when we were growing up. Let’s say for example, you had a mom that was all about saving money. And you had a dad that was all about spending it. The arguments you may have witnessed gave you mixed messages. Is money something we should save? Something we should spend freely until it’s gone? In either case, you may have formed the conclusion that money is bad because “it causes people to fight.”
Money is certainly in the top five “hot topics” when it comes to areas that couples struggle with, and it’s no wonder. Money is a loaded topic.
Money is symbolic. We learn early on that money is either given to us, or we have to work for it. We see, like my 5 -year-old grandson, that when he spends his allotted amount of money on the occasional trip to Target when he reaches the end of the money, he can no longer buy anything he wants. His spending has an end.
For some families especially those that were poor, money may represent poverty, or bill collectors. For others that grew up privileged their messaging might have been that money is plentiful, and not a thing to be worried about at all.
Whether we’ve experienced abundance or scarcity when it comes to money, it has left an indelible mark for many of us that we are often unaware of until the deeper dynamics of how we think and feel about money play out in our relationships.
It is very likely that many arguments about money aren’t about the money at all. Rather they are often about what it represents, and who gets to control it. If a couple can express their real thoughts and feelings about money, then they are more likely to be able to make agreements around it.
If a wife is willing to share that growing up her dad spent money recklessly and her mom felt panicked every time it happened, then a husband can understand and perhaps be empathetic toward his wife questioning an unusual or costly expenditure. Instead of taking her inquiry as a personal assault (she doesn’t trust me or she wants to control me) He would do well to recall that this type of event would be triggering for her.
Most couples talk only about the dollars and wonder why they struggle so much in the money department.
In these trying times, financial issues for many have hit a record high, and the stress those worries and anxieties bring take an enormous toll on people physically, emotionally, mentally and relationally.
Consider having a conversation with your partner, spouse, or roommate about the messages you got about money and the concerns, fears, or beliefs you have as a result.
Ask for them to share as well while you simply listen, keeping it safe for them to share.
If you truly need help with the dollars; budgeting, financial planning, refinancing etc., there are lots of people in the community to help you create a financial plan or pay off debt.
No matter what your deeper belief systems are around money, paying off debt and staying debt free is a great way to reduce the overall stress individually and on the relationship.
Next time you find yourself stressing about money, take the time to sit down alone or with your partner, and ask yourself what might really be going on? Take a few minutes to consider what your current situation represents and why it might be so upsetting or difficult.
Sharing these feelings can not only help you make better agreements around money with yourself or your partner, but it can take a load of $tress off as well.
Do you know of a great financial planner that understands the psychological side of money as well as the saving, spending, investing side? Send them our way. We’d love to connect with some financial planners that operate with integrity so we can promote them through the Live Well Kitsap site.