My husband and I have had countless arguments about money. And we're not alone; divorce statistics suggest that money is the major cause of most divorces. Suffice it to say that money is a hot topic and one that a lot of relationships struggle with.
However, the source of most of these arguments is not really money. In fact money arguments and stress have three completely different causes.
1) The Financial Security Myth: What if what is stressing you out isn't how your partner spends the money you have or how your ex is managing his affairs in the divorce, but rather, your thinking that your security and well-being is tied to money?
What do I mean by that? I know a lot of people who are rich and who are very well off and yet who are miserable. I also know quite a few people who would be considered poor, who allow their generosity to dictate what they feel. Living in Bali, I see this every day. Most Balinese earn an average of $200 a month. Which for most of us in the Western world is nothing.
And yet, the Balinese are some of the happiest and most generous people I have ever met. They focus on what they have, versus on what they don't have, and they want to give rather than just get.
So I would suggest that your sense of security isn't coming from how much money you have in the bank. Instead, your feeling of security and well being is defined by the way you think about money and what you have.
2) Poor Communication: Blaming and shaming is a natural by-product of thinking that your security and well-being is linked to your money. If you or your partner is not managing your affairs all that well, it would make sense that if you see your finances take a hit, that you will feel insecure and blame the other.
But what if you were able to communicate about what is going on in a calm and generous manner? How different would your experience be?
In my own experience, being able to listen and get curious as to why the other person is doing what they are doing makes a huge difference. In fact, it's not the content of the argument that kills relationships, but how the content is communicated.
3) The Hidden Hamster Wheel: This refers to thought patterns such as, "I will be happy when he/she changes his or her behavior," or "we would be so much more secure if he/she spent less money or gave me more money." What kills a relationship is wanting someone else's behavior to change and for things to be different.
If you live with the erroneous belief that your well-being and your feelings are coming from how someone behaves versus your own thinking, you will want them to stop the behavior.
Once you can see that your feelings of insecurity and frustration don't come from how they behave, but from what you are thinking, you will have peace of mind.
Next time you find yourself embroiled in an argument or a fight. STOP, take a moment to reflect on what is creating this experience for you. I guarantee that it will be your thinking in that moment versus it being about the other person and finances. After all, it's the meaning we ascribe to our situations that create security or take it away.
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