We bring hidden fixed money beliefs from our families of origin into our relationships
Denise Wade PH.D.
How you approach money is typically how you approach all areas of your life. Do you operate out of fear, scarcity, abundance, insecurity, overconfidence, optimism, or extravagance? When you and your partner argue about money, money most likely isn’t the real issue. Often the argument is about two very different belief systems. We operate from powerful principles of lack and abundance downloaded in our subconscious. Four sources of influence around money assumptions are parents, painful childhood experiences, religion, and social programming/ media. Some common examples include:
• Money is sinful.
• Everyone that has money just got lucky.
• I don’t deserve nice things.
• Women who marry men with money are gold diggers.
• Why save? People who save are miserly and cheap.
• Money grows on trees.
• I worry about money constantly.
• I work hard; I can buy anything I want, even if I can’t afford it.
• I will be looked down upon if I don’t wear designer clothes.
• Charge it or borrow, I want it now!
Attitudes around frugality, reckless spending, wealth, hoarding, borrowing, and saving are the automatic responses that influence our behavior in money related matters. We tend to cart this same mindset into other areas of our life such as dating, childrearing, communication, work habits, sex, and relating. Five common mindsets include:
1) Being Conservative and Conscious
2) Frugal and Insecure
3) Free Spirited and Spontaneous
4) Driven and Goal Oriented
5) Extravagant and Reckless
When we come into a relationship with our partner, we both unload a boatload of false spending assumptions and earning habits, some healthy and functional, many irrational and dysfunctional. They don’t belong to us; we temporarily adopted them from Mom, Dad, Grandmom, Teachers, Religious Authorities, an Ex, Advertisements, even the kid in the playground who mocked us for having too much or too little. Interestingly enough, painful childhood experiences impact our spending behavior much more than positive ones. These negative influences drive how we perceive and judge our partner, which accounts for 77% of all marital squabbles.. Typical behaviors of ourself and our spouse that bring about fiscal conflict in our relationships include:
* Manipulating People through Bribery
* Refusing To Save
* Maxing Out Credit Cards on Frivolous Items
* Refusing To Have the Money Conversation
* Blaming or Judging Your Partner
* Hiding Credit Card Bills
* Excessive Borrowing from Family Members
* Refusing To Budget
* Being Overly Frugal
* Refusing to Earn a Better Income
* Using Guilt about Money to Control People
* Buying Cars, Houses, Clothes for Status that You Can’t Afford
Your beliefs are not wrong, nor are your partner’s, they’re just different, and if they are not in sync with each other this misalignment can lead to constant conflict, anger, resentment, broken trust and connection, stress, unhappiness, and divorce. The good news is once you discover and understand your money assumptions and how they drive your and your partner’s choices, attitudes, and perceptions, it becomes easier to discuss them and resolve financial stand downs. Here are some suggestions you may want to try:
1) Try to suspend any judgment of your partner and his family. Remember he or she doesn’t know what they don’t know. This money belief programming has taken years to download. You cannot undo it in one sitting.
2) Identify the unhealthy or irrational habits that may have served him/her that may not be appropriate to serve the goals of your partnership. Remind your partner gently that you respect what worked for them as a single, but it no longer serves them now that they are in a partnership. Just as fast food may not serve you or your partner if you are now committed to a healthy lifestyle. Which ones are you willing to surrender? Write them down. Try to find some humor in them without judgment or blame.
3) Identify the fiscal strengths that each partner brings into the relationship. Which traits complement and balance the budget, the savings, the earnings, the goals, the investments? Build on those. Co create your new plan.
4) Have a “money check in” once a month. Try to keep the same time and day each month. Celebrate each small progress of your partner as they retrain their old habits.
5) Define the goal. What is the priority? To pay down debt? To save? To cut back on spending? Choose one small goal every 3 months so as to not overwhelm and discourage you both.
6) Now align your new co created priorities. Meet on common ground respectful of each other’s needs. Suspend blame or judgment and move outside your comfort zone as you decide mutually on what necessities are and what niceties are. Be conscious of those outdated money beliefs creeping back. Agree that all financial decisions going forward will be in alignment with your new goals and vision for your future together.
Copyright © 2011 by Denise Wade, Ph.D. All rights reserved in all media. Used with permission.
Denise Wade, Ph.D. is devoted to helping committed couples reignite passion and intimacy through awareness of each other’s unique sexual and emotional needs. Denise provides gender education and marriage principles coaching, a comfortable alternative to marriage counseling. www.sweetharmony.net 1.215-913-7997.