Money Time: Why Couples Argue About Money?
In this article we’ll try to understand – Why couples argue about money? Each of us has our own personal story with money, a story built from childhood memories, our parents’ financial conduct, messages passed down to us from the society in which we grew up, our immediate environment and the life experience we have gained. And when that personal story conflicts with the spouse’s story, the problems begin.
Disagreements between spouses regarding finances are considered to be one of the significant factors that impair the quality of the relationship and its stability. Considering that studies show that people tend to marry spouses who are financially opposite, and that money is one of the main issues many spouses face, it is quite clear why quarrels over expenses and income, managing and planning a joint budget, investing and taking risks are routine for many couples.
Many times, the source of disagreement stems from the difference in the way both spouses perceive and relate to money.
Each of us has our own personal story with money, a story built from childhood memories, our parents’ conduct and attitude towards the subject, messages conveyed to us from the society in which we grew up, our immediate environment and the life experience we have gained.
The private and unique story we have created affects our financial agenda, and in fact determines how we will feel and how we will behave in everything related to financial issues.
Ask yourself: Does everything related to money create stress or a sense of joy in you? Do you believe that money comes from hard work or successful investments? Do you think you should always stay alert for a black day, or do you feel safe and stable? Are you prone to saving or over-spending? Do you deny the situation or are you constantly on the pulse?
Two different managers for a common fund
As long as all our private rush with the financial part of life remains between us, and we find the way to be successful with our demons and patterns – it’s one thing. But when we are asked to run a joint household, set priorities together, take care of our own and our children’s well-being and financial future, and make sure everything is always relaxed in terms of income.
Now do it all with another person coming up with a different personal story, and a whole different world of Feelings, beliefs, conclusions and patterns of behavior, this is where the problem begins.
Because of the same different perceptions and behaviors and especially because a relationship also means an economic agreement and joint legal obligations, the basic experience of many couples is of anger and frustration when it comes to financial issues.
Sometimes they try to talk, ask, explain and persuade, and when they see that in the deed of action nothing changes and that the arguments bring more harm than good, they begin to create coping strategies, like concealment and breaches of trust, which usually only do more harm.
The dynamics that characterize many marital relationships are such that they include harsh criticism of the financial conduct and priorities of the spouse, and increasing despair when things do not change and the endless cycle of arguments gets stuck on the same loop.
In order for us to manage our next financial debate (and it will come …) with greater success, we should get to know the “money scenarios” taken from the world of financial psychology.
Money scenarios are types of beliefs that people hold about money, beliefs that developed in childhood and that they are not necessarily aware of and that greatly influence their financial behaviors.
Knowing the potential scenarios can help people develop an awareness of what underlies their and their spouses’ behavior, and thereby understand how to approach financial disputes more correctly, and how to find effective joint solutions. So what are the main and most common money scenarios?
Money-Phobia: Leave me and money issues
This scenario characterizes people who believe that money is a bad thing. When they think of everything that involves money, even if it is the simplest and most common purchase, they feel stress, fear and even disgust.
Many times they boast of philosophical agendas related to the destructive meaning of money in the world, hide behind statements in the style of “money does not interest me”, or simply transfer all financial management to the spouse and withdraw from any occupation related to the subject.
This approach is often accompanied by problematic financial behaviors of denial, procrastination and few expenses.
Life in a movie: If only I had more money, all my problems would be solved
This scenario characterizes people who adore money. For them money can buy everything, and most importantly can bring with it happiness and an increase in life satisfaction.
They are very interested in finance, and keep themselves busy thinking about how they can get themselves more and more money.
This approach is often accompanied by problematic financial behaviors such as gambling or workaholism, aimed at achieving the desired wealth, excessive spending – aimed at seemingly enjoying the happiness that money can buy, or hoarding – aimed at keeping close to what money can buy.
The owner of the century is of the opinion: he who has more is worth more
This scenario characterizes people who believe that a person’s value is determined by his or her monetary value, and for them there is a clear separation between socio-economic classes.
When they talk to people they are quick to gauge their monetary value and treat them accordingly, and most of the time they will greatly appreciate people who have a lot of money, even if it was not achieved by them in an effort or came from legal sources.
They often compare themselves to others and are very busy winning the competition they have created in their head. This approach is often accompanied by problematic financial behaviors of excessive spending and risk-taking.
Shhh … don’t talk about money
This scenario characterizes people who believe that money is a source of shame or apprehension, and that it is important to keep it secret.
For them, knowledge of the amount of money they have is something that should be kept within the family, and they are very concerned about financial issues, afraid of problems and financial dangers, and suspect the intentions of others, even when objectively they have no reason to.
This approach is often accompanied by problematic financial behaviors of excessive frugality, interesting financial anxieties and a lack of enjoyment and satisfaction from the security that money can provide.
So the next time you want your spouse to let go of some stinginess, reduce shopping or gambling, become more involved in family financial management or stop being so afraid of their financial future, think about money scripts.
Instead of trying to change their behavior through repeated requests, insults and sanctions, try to conduct the next financial discussion from a place of self-awareness, and respect for your spouse’s thoughts about money, and the feelings he or she evokes in them.
Remember, deep beliefs and patterns do not change in a day. One should touch and try to work with them with the proper sensitivity, patience, gentleness, support and friendship.