I was recently asked what I consider to be the number one piece of advice when it comes to relationships, couples and money. I strongly believe that couples should what do what I call a “Money Gram” – or a money family tree. This helps them to understand each others attitudes, fears, beliefs and patterns in both families money histories. This will clue them in to their power dynamic and potential conflict around money. It may draw attention to issues each person wasn’t aware of ““ both in their personal financial life, and their life as a couple.
You need to ask yourselves such important questions as “How was money handled in my family?” “Was I aware of any financial troubles as a kid?” “How did this affect my view of money?” “Was money used as punishment or reward?” “How has this influences my finances as an adult?”
These specific inquiries are just a starting point ““ I discuss many more in Financial Infidelity – and you may know the answers to these questions for yourself. But knowing your partner’s answers as well is almost equally as important if you’re going to move on from a power struggle that often exists around love and finances.
Then, integrate this with what I call “the money love language” – which I discuss more in my book, Make up, Don’t Breakup – i.e. giving each other a safe place to be honest about your fears (both financial and otherwise) and using a communication style that affirms where each person is coming from. By doing this, you can slowly begin to erode the stigma that money often creates. It’s absolutely crucial that this stigma be done away with in an intimate relationship, if that relationship wants to move forward. Often couples mistake a lack of communication about finances for a lack of compatibility, but integrating a few of these tasks and dialogues can prove that’s not true!
Guest post by Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil (doctorbonnie.com) has been an internationally acclaimed relationship therapist for thirty years. New York magazine named her one of the city’s top therapists. Her most recent book, Financial Infidelity (now available in paper back) is available on Amazon, as are her adultery-related books, Adultery the Forgivable Sin, and Can we Cure and Forgive Adultery. You can also find her on Facebook.