Guess what? Couples have money issues. They disagree about it, they fight about it, they hide what’s going on with it from each other. Anything to do with money often leads to a messy conversation if not a bit of a tussle.
This happens for a couple of really good reasons. First, opposites attract. Yep, they do. In general we want our partners to be a bit more unpredictable and different from us. We want a some mystery to challenge, intrigue and inspire up. I also ascribe to the idea that their differences to us require us to look deeper at ourselves and consider other perspectives. The topic of money is certainly one of the areas that differences show up!
More importantly, almost all of us (~97.5%) have little kids running our money—the little kids that we were when we first were exposed to money concepts in our families and our culture. These kids usually grew up without being properly and intentionally educated about money. There are reasons for this, the primary one being that money is such a taboo topic. Our parents don’t talk about how it actually works, instead they say odd things about it – “It doesn’t grow on trees”, “You’ll have to work hard forever and never really make any”, “Rich people aren’t as nice as poor people”.
None of that is really helpful to us as children. The main thing we really learn about money as kids is that there is something “weird” about it. When our parents talk about it the “emotional field” around money just gets hinky.
What happens is that somehow the little kid part of us ends up running our money, in little kid fashion. It’s like we somehow gave that job to them and forgot to relieve them of it.
The important thing about this little kid thinking issue in a couple is that when it comes to money we not only have opposites trying to work it out, but pretty stubborn little kids with arms folded glaring at each other. The overriding thought is something like: “I’m right and my partner is just wrong. So there!”
Seems a bit silly, doesn’t it? In the midst of it, it’s not though…it’s serious. It’s deep. It’s fundamental. It’s the way you learned and what you made up about how things work. You aren’t really opposing your partner, you are championing the way you were raised—and you are doing it from the perspective of a little kid. And oh by the way, your partner is doing the same thing.
Understanding your differences, and that the part of each of you that is handling your money is a little kid, can go a long way to understanding and creating harmony in your relationship with money. Staying firmly positioned in the ‘I’m just right” stance won’t help.
A couple of places to start changing this dynamic include:
- Recognizing and saying over and over to yourself “this is not about me, it’s about my partner’s beliefs.” This is true even when the partner says it is about you!
- Bringing lightness and humor to the situation. Remembering what attracts you to each other. Honor your caring for each other.
You two can succeed in having money be something you collaborate on, it just requires love, patience, and understanding—oh, and bringing the more mature parts of ourselves to the conversation is a good idea. Save the little kid for the park, the zoo, or maybe even playing doctor!
Shell Tain, The Untangler
If you and/or your partner would like more support in collaborating around money give me a call at 503-258-1630 or check out my website at www.sensiblecoaching.com