Self

How Admitting Your Financial Shame May Be The Key To True Intimacy As A Couple

Photo: Dean Drobot / shutterstock.com  
couple walking together, cuddling, in the desert in front of a blue jeep

Money matters often are the hidden partner in our relationships. 

As women, shame comes in our starter kit. The perception is that we, as authentically born, are not “good enough.”

Debt can crush your self-esteem.

Our worth feels like a filter as we hold onto moments of pride, fleetingly. We smile and nod and deflect.

Often, we feel disconnected to the applause, accolades, and requests for attention. When we make money mistakes, our moment in the sun fades, leaving us bewildered and returning to our former position — conflicted and fearful, listening for the other shoe to drop.

That wave of self-consciousness sweeps over us when the shame trigger gets pulled. 

And often that hidden shame is rooted in our finances, a shame which can deeply affect our relationships.

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Do you have moments of thinking you are close with your partner ... and yet you hide your financial shame?

Your secret will take its toll on your psyche, leading to disconnection and insecurity. 

Without question, shame is the quintessential emotion.

In 2007, when I started to dig myself out of financial denial, I learned this lesson. In reading about letting go, healing, trust, and repressed anger, I finally felt someone put language to my feelings that I had never accurately defined before. 

Finally, I could connect my feeling of a lack of worthiness, to not paying enough attention to my finances. What I really felt was a deep sense of guilt. Understanding this helped me detach from the emotions I carried since birth to the less recognizable emotion of guilt. 

As a financial coach, I always ask clients to tell me where shame appears in their lives. Often their first reply is: “I don’t have any…”  Then, I learn they are hiding their debt from their partner and the water balloon of shame bursts.

Shame, isolation and fear are the trifecta in our lives. They always travel as a pack. Fear keeps us isolated so no one will see our shame.

In that isolation, our demons come out to play. We “run the film" of what might happen to our financial future, thus feeding the shame monster, keeping us small and away from who we really are and keeping us away from our partner.

The shame we feel and that often gets played out in our finances, body images, lack of boundaries, and staying in toxic relationships, can be fixed. We cannot go back and undo the damage, but we can fix it as we move forward.

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Ask yourself these questions to help you acknowledge and heal your feelings of shame about your finances.

  1. Do you have difficulty controlling your spending?

  2. Do you feel like a financial failure?

  3. Do you feel overwhelmed by your debt?

  4. Do you shy away from financial conversations?

  5. Do you worry about the future?

Learning to remove shame builds self-awareness. Identify feelings of shame as it happens, reach out to someone you trust, and share your concerns. Use that conversation as a springboard to then share it with your partner to build closeness. 

Painful and scary as it will feel, the sense of liberation and being released from being a prisoner to your finances will make it worth the risk. Remember, we ALL have feelings of shame whether we acknowledge it or not. Looking your debt in the eye, tames the beast.

If you need help detangling your feelings of guilt and shame from your finances, there is always help available.

RELATED: 6 Glaring Signs Money Is The Root Of Your Relationship Problems

Pegi Burdick is a published author and certified coach helping people sort out their emotions from their money. Her experience as an entrepreneur and Financial Whisperer Coach helps her to teach others to achieve financial freedom. 

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