What Your Fight About Money Really Means


Finances are only a small part of the problem.

About four months ago, my husband and I hit a wall. In fact, it was a financial wall — at least, I thought it was. What it actually was, though, was a delegation and communication issue.

So how did a financial issue become a delegation and communication issue? Well what I realized was that I had given my husband a job in our financial agreement that doesn't actually work towards his strengths.

When coaching clients, I often see them arguing about money and time and time again, I see divorces become extremely messy because of it.

For our marriage, the plan was to work towards him reducing his debt so we could jointly own the house.

However, even though we were working towards this plan, he dropped the ball on a couple of financial commitments, which sent his credit rate dropping to an all time low.

During this time I had entrusted him with the credit card, which had my name on it. Little did I know that he would also drop the ball on paying this back on time every month, which meant that not only was our plan to get a joint mortgage looking less and less likely, but now I was implicated in the deal because it was my name on the card.

At which point I freaked out and became very upset. I shouted and got angry at his lack of responsibility and his inability to organize himself, until suddenly, I was faced with the question, "what is my part in all of this?" "Where do I need to take responsibility?"

And it dawned on me that the wrong roles had been delegated to the wrong people. Why would I give this responsibility to him when this is not his strong point? Would you entrust your wine cellar to an alcoholic? Probably not, knowing their history.

But this is exactly what I did. I had entrusted him with a credit card, knowing that organizing himself financially was not his strong point.

I realized what happened was no reflection on who he is; it had more to do with us not having found a way to make it work. And when I saw this, I realized now it was non-personal. It became about us finding a solution that would work. And that is what we have done.

In addition to us not delegating very well, our conversations around the finances certainly didn't help. The claws would come out, and we wanted to not even broach the subject because there was so much fear around us having yet another argument.

And this is when I had another insight. The challenge we were having was not a financial one — but one of communication. If we could find a way to communicate effectively around this topic, then the arguments would stop and indeed they have.

What looked like a financial issue became one of delegation and communication. The moment I saw this as truth, we could now work on it. And that is what we have done. Having got the clarity around what the real challenge was, we have solved a problem that would have otherwise carried on day after day, month after month, year after year.

What if finances and other problems in relationships are actually more about delegation and communication, instead of what we are arguing about?