Managing Finances in Your Relationship


Managing Finances in Your Relationship

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When couples get married or deepen their commitment, they’re aware that there will be good and bad times. Arguments happen, and conflict is always a challenge when you love someone — it is a sign of intimacy. Overcoming issues in a marriage or love relationship takes a lot of time and patience. There’s one issue that remains a constant conflict and source of marital problems for many couples: finances. Is money a challenge in your marriage or love relationship?

Different views on finances can put a lot of stress on your marriage. For example, couples can have differing views on:

·      Charity

·      Earnings

·      Savings

·      Spending

Conflicting views on money lead to arguments that are recurring and can put a marriage into a state of constant conflict. Learning how to handle finances as a married couple, beyond budgeting and smart decision-making, can go a long way in helping you overcome financial stress and worry in your relationships.

What Is the Best Way for Married Couples to Handle Finances?

Couples have different financial stressors. If you are like many couples, you may struggle with your spouse spending while you want to save every dime you own, or the other way around. Some couples find that both partners have different sensitivities from their history, what we call schemas, that cause their finance issues, such as one spouse being a pessimist, seeing the work with a negative filter that assumes the worst, while the other partner falls into approval-seeking, seeking status that they think will somehow secure their worth to other people they view as important.

Gottman Method Couples Therapy, one of the core models we use at Loving at Your Best, offers many helpful ways that helps couples to handle their finances without bankrupting their marriage.

Honesty is the Best Policy

With anything in a marriage, honesty is always the best policy, but it’s especially important for financial matters. Talk openly about how you want to handle your finances. Do you want to have separate accounts, joint accounts or some combination of the two?

Have a frank discussion about spending habits and savings goals. It’s important for both of you to be on the same page, and to have these discussions without judgment. 

Financial matters can be polarizing and easily spark arguments, particularly if one of you is experiencing a lot of fear, and becomes openly critical of how the other handles money. If you come at it from a place of compassion and understanding – without judgment and criticism – then you can openly share:

·      Your financial goals/dreams

·      Your values when it comes to money (are you a spender, a saver, or some combination of the two?)

·      Your preferences on how to best handle your finances

With everything out in the open, it’s much easier to compromise and come to some sort of agreement on how you will handle your money as a couple in ways that support both of your dreams. For example, if you’re a spender and your partner is a saver, perhaps you can come to an agreement on budgeting in some of the things you believe are important to spend money on, things that matter to each, while working toward support each other’s dreams.

Understand that Money Is Emotional

Money is so much more than just currency — it’s a symbol, and has so many different meanings. 

Dr. John Gottman, creator of Gottman Method Couples Therapy, sat down and started writing all of the possible meanings that money has for people. He reached 100 meanings before he stopped writing. 

Couples can quickly realize that money can mean a lot of different things for different people, based on your histories.

Sit down for a few minutes and think about what money truly means to you. Write down or type out on your favorite device the meanings finances have, identifying similarities and differences. Make an appointment with your partner or spouse, asking them to do the same before you meet, so that you’re both prepared to have a productive discussions. Once you meet, share your answers, identifying similarities and differences. What are the stories in each other’s histories that influence these meanings?

Money can be a tool or symbol that you may not understand but your partner truly feels.

Life experiences shape your view of:

·      Financial security

·      Responsibility

·      Wealth

As a couple, practice having deep conversations about finances so that you can both understand each other’s viewpoints. For example, a person that grew up with little money where their parents had to move around a lot or they had to live with family to survive may be more inclined to seek financial security by restricting spending.

Perhaps this individual is the habitual saver and doesn’t splurge on items, while the other spouse grew up in a wealthy family and never had to worry about money, influencing them to spend with few limits.

These two very different life experiences shape a person’s views on finances.

If both of you are comfortable with your finances, the conversation is often a lot easier than if you struggle to make enough money to pay your bills. The conversations that you have with your partner around finances can help you better understand their history and the circumstances in life that shaped them into the person they are.

Beliefs, morals and values can turn into the very guiding principles that contribute to the way your partner views wealth, uses money, and earns their income.

If you and your spouse can sit down and have a truthful and honest talk about money, increasing your curiosity while sharing your past experiences that shaped your view on finances, you’ll learn more about yourself and each other than you may have thought was possible.

Discussing money, or more importantly, learning what shapes your view of finances can help you gain a stronger emotional bond with your partner or spouse, understand expectations, and also learn of your innate assumptions.


4 Steps to Better Money Management in Your Marriage

1.     Don’t wait to talk about spending Couples tend to wait six years before seeking out therapy in their relationship, according to John Gottman. For finances, these couples may wait six years before needing urgent help, not being able to develop a financial plan that addresses their conflict head-on. Talk to your spouse about spending, and come up with a plan now rather than waiting to save or invest money for retirement. If you’re getting stuck every time you talk about finances, make an appointment with one of our expert therapists so that financial issues don’t have to continue to get in the way of your love.

2.     Automate your plan for money Systems can and should be put in place that help your marriage reach a financial state of happiness. Automating your savings, investments and retirements allows you to have money to pay your bills and find a sense of financial stability. How can you “amazon one-click” your finances to help meet both of your dreams?

3.     Reduce unnecessary payments Make a date to lower the unnecessary payments that you have as a couple. Both of you can make a list of payments that you want to reduce, such as cell phone bills, credit card interest, insurance plans and bank fees. Working together to reduce these costs and unlock income will help you emotionally bond and free up some of your money to focus on your larger financial dreams together.

4.     Fight to pay off debt Debt can lead to a lot of arguments and uncertainty in a marriage. Taking responsibility for debt and finding ways to organize it are first steps. Next, choose what to pay off first, and figure out how you’ll pay off the debt. This can bee seen as an investment in your relationship. You can even set up automatic payments to help stay on track with your goals.

Money management helps alleviate the emotional strain that debt has on many marriages. You’ll also have to discuss debt and your goals with your partner, which is a great opportunity to learn more about each other’s views on finances.

Emotionally Focused Therapy Approach to Finances

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is an approach involving nine steps that help couples better deal with conflict surrounding highly debated topics by changing how they interact with each other around challenging topics. A new pattern can be developed in your relationship to help you both deal with issues big or small. With money, it just so happens that conflicts around finances are the leading reason for quarrels, and are a major cause of stress and fear in marriages.

Using Emotionally Focused Therapy, your therapist at Loving at Your Best will help you and your partner/spouse to:

·      Identify concerns

·      Uncover negative interaction patterns

·      Uncover negative emotions and fears

·     Reframe issues

·      Change interaction patterns

·      Express compassion and acceptance

·      Learn how to discuss issues of conflict

Our therapists at Loving at Your Best will help you to develop new solutions and ways to communicate problems. When the final step of therapy is achieved, you will have learned new interaction techniques that enable you to consistently discuss your financial conflicts without the conflict getting to a place where it is so upsetting that it makes either of you question the viability of your marriage.

How Does Schema Therapy for Couples Address Financial Issues in Marriages?

Schemas are underlying sensitivities that help use shape what we see in front of us, usually in unhealthy ways. We have schemas in different domains that are divided into 18 different beliefs. The main schemas that may relate to money and finances in your marriage are:

·      Negativity and pessimismOne or both partners may have a negative outlook on life, such as somethingwill eventually go wrong. This pessimism can lead to worry that a couple’s financial situation will simply go wrong and lead to financial collapse. Exaggeration plays a major role here and can lead to worry, complaints and arguments.

·      Approval-seeking and recognition-seeking One or both partners may be seeking approval or recognition, and this often leads to an overemphasis on status. In this case, the need to seek recognition as someone that is wealthy can lead to fighting and arguments.

·      Vulnerability to Harm or Illness Exaggerated fear that imminent catastrophe will strike at any time and that one will be unable to prevent it. Fears focus on on eor more of the following: Medical Catastrophes: e.g., heart attacks, AIDS; Emotional Catastrophes: e.g., going crazy; and External Catastrophes: e.g., elevators collapsing, victimized by criminals, airplane crashes, earthquakes. With finances, a partner may have an exaggerated sense of vulnerability due to money. For instance, a person who grew up without enough money may have a sense of scarcity that leads to overly restrictive spending that doesn’t match their reality. This can directly conflict with a partner, especially when they may have grown up in a wealthy family and feel that limits don’t need to be placed on spending, such as a budget.

Our Schema Therapy for Couples therapists work with couples to help them identify which schemas are relevant for each partner — shedding on light on each other’s blind spots, and how the schemas may be clashing with each other, causing a love trap — when two schemas collide to create a pattern that ends up unintentionally reinforcing the worst fears of both partners. Schemas drive unhelpful behavioral patterns, in many cases, that often reinforce the core fears of both partners. Instead of supporting each other on the same time, you may suddenly feel like your partner or spouse is actively working against you and your dreams.

Schema Therapy for Couples helps you form an adaptive pattern that is able to ensure your core needs are met.

With a skill Schema Couples Therapist, you can work through many of the issues that you have so that both you and your partner/spouse can better understand why finances are causing so many conflicts and strife.

Money and finances are a major concern for couples, whether they’ve been married for a week or decades. Utilizing the methods and approaches from the Loving at Your Best plan can help you find new, healthy ways to handle your finances.


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