How To Manage Money Discussions Will Help You Achieve Financial Intimacy
Discussions on How To Manage Money Will Help You and Your Spouse To Achieve Financial Intimacy
Whether we like to admit it or not, discussions on how to manage money, or the lack of it in some cases, is the primary cause of divorce today. Perhaps we should take that concept a bit further, and say that the lack of communication, e.g., discussion of finances, leads many couples to the divorce lawyer.
Many books have been written on this subject, usually with different strategies on how to overcome the problem, and basically they all come to the same conclusion, couples must be able to discuss the topic of money in a healthy and constructive way. It’s easy to say, but sometimes hard to do, isn’t it?
Apparently the topic of money has become taboo. Is it because, as children, how to manage money wasn’t discussed in your family? Do you think if it had been you would be more open to discuss it with your spouse? Is it more prevalent with the current generation of couples? Many are doing research on this, and the results aren’t really that conclusive.
Some “experts” have coined a new term for the topic of how to manage money discussions, “financial intimacy”. They define it as being able to freely and openly talk to your spouse about your wants, desires, and needs, making yourself completely vulnerable, and then to know positively that your spouse will respect and keep that.
As it turns out, sadly, just the opposite occurs for many couples. For whatever reason, many are very reluctant to be vulnerable in any way, shape or form. They pull back, feeling unsafe, and tend to be on the secretive side. For that reason alone, many relationships begin to fall apart, another casualty of the issue of how to manage money.
Some experts believe that for the past generation or two, we’ve been taught that money was a topic that wasn’t nice or proper, not to be discussed, and swept quietly under the rug because couples just weren’t comfortable talking about it.
Some theorize that between the ages of 2 and 12, our brains develop patterns that remain for life. They go on to say that if you grew up in a family where money was not so plentiful, and probably a sensitive topic, you may have been scolded when you asked for money. Sayings such as “Do you think I’m made of money” or ” do you think money grows on trees”, would have made an impact on the young mind.
Later in life, when that child became an adult, he/she would be reluctant to discuss how to manage money because of those old reactions. By the time an individual attains age 25, brain patterns are pretty much formed, and today, many couples don’t marry until around age 25, so those early childhood patters are very much alive and active.
Psychologists have a number of methods that can be used to help individuals open up and talk about how to manage money in a healthy manner, but unless the individuals involved can get to understand their own behavior first, it won’t work. Still, the ability to effectively communicate with each other in a healthy way, is the most common and prevalent financial issue for many couples today.
Most of us have inherited certain patterns from our parents, whether we realize it or not, and until we can grasp that, and try to make changes accordingly, these issues will continue to exist. Getting these issues out in the open, and trying to be understanding of each others desires, will go a long way in helping the relationship.
As a financial adviser, and with some difficulty, I must say that sometimes it isn’t just about the numbers. It usually is better to have individuals focus their thoughts in building their lives based on their desires, hopes, and dreams instead. A good example is a couple that loves to travel, and one day, live in a foreign country. They should focus on the type of lifestyle they want to have and not on the amount of money they will need. Discussing how to manage money early in their marriage would provide them with a comfortable lifestyle.
Individuals in general still have a tendency to think that they will need more money as they get older. If they communicate effectively, and plan together based on their joint visions, they can usually accomplish that with less money than they thought. And yes, it’s critical for both spouses to put forth 100% each, in their effort to understand the others dreams and desires, and to communicate effectively. A good marriage is not 50/50, it is 100/100, and please, don’t be reluctant to discuss the topic on how to manage money.
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I think achieving financial intimacy is extremely difficult in a relationship, as you mention many people are reluctant to become vulnerable and I can say from experience that’s exactly how I used to be. But to be a true partnership it’s something that definitely has to be overcome, a lot can be sorted with good planning and communication. Fantastic post
It is hard. I’m actually a little embarrassed to say that when me and my now husband were first going out into the world together, I hid how much money I had from him because I knew he couldn’t match me. I was just afraid of being taken advantage of! We overcame it to some degree, though he has never been able to truly wrap his head around my finances. I feel like if I came clean sooner, he would have felt more involved in the situation and wouldn’t be treating me like a cash cow at this stage of the game.
Great article. You have to learn how to manage your money first, that is the point. Without managing the money properly, both sides (spender and saver) will ultimately fail.
Lucky for me, my wife and I are both 50/50 spenders and savers, so we tend to have a good balance with each other. The planning based on your ideals is a great thought though.
I hadn’t really heard of the term financial intimacy before – to me it’s just a part of sharing a life together. It should be, especially in this day and age! Interestingly though, I read an article about financial infidelity a few months back – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adrian-nazari/financial-infidelity-are-_b_1663770.html
Thanks for the comment Phil and the reference to the Huffington post. I just read their article and think it’s very good and to the point.
Financial problems are one of the leading causes in relationship problems, even at an early stage in a relationship. Deal with it, it’s not going to get easier
My father was very careful with money when I was a child, but my mother, who earned her own money, spent it on luxuries, so there was a balance of two ways of handling money in the house. At the end of the day it taught us how to save but also how to be able to spend on things we wanted or needed. Now my parents are aged my mother has a very jaded view of the money issue believeing that she was the only one who earned to spend on things we needed as my father would never spend on anything. My view of it was that father spent when necessary, mother spent when she felt like it.
Thanks for the tips, great article! Sad to say, my husband and I rarely talk about money. I don’t remember hearing too much about money when I was growing up. I do know that my Mom tended to be a penny pincher and would get upset at my Dad for buying unnecessary items, even though their finances were not all that tight. My husband came from a home where his father was an awful penny pincher. My husband seems to be somewhat neutral about money – he’s not a spender, but not a penny pincher either. However, he tends to let all the bill paying to me…. I started doing it after I saw he was not taking care of it. (At least we don’t fight about it, I just do what needs to be done, because nagging him about it does create bad feelings 🙂
I have to have my husband read this article!
We don’t typically fight, but he does not always grasp how much it costs to run a household. He also doesn’t seem to have the same kind of thinking when it comes to money and spending,
I like to remain open about our expenses and goals and what we will do with money from a debt that has been paid off, etc. But he never wants to discuss it. I understand that, because anybody who takes care of their families finances, knows it’s super stressful and causes massive headaches!
I hope to not have any major fights or anything about money, I don’t particularly like conflict, so if we would ever start to go this route, I will try whatever I can in my power to not have a messed up marriage over money.
Money should be the least important issue in life, yet somehow, it tends to take over some people’s lives, it’s actually pretty sad.
My wife and I both came from families that started out with little money. Her family learned to save money to the point that it could be considered greedy but they often talked about money in their family. Her family saved so much that after the great depression, they had a lot of it saved up and start investing and sending their kids to college. My family, on the other hand, didn’t have a lot and didn’t know how to save so after the great depression, they were still broke and never talked about money. When we got married, she was more likely to spend money on nicer things but would only do this once a month, where in I would always go the cheaper route and buy whatever was cheap but would do this a lot. i noticed different patterns for both of us. We are working hard to correct our behavior because she seems to be able to save money more than I have been able to but she also tends to get things that are more expensive instead of waiting for a sale like I do.