How to Transform Your Relationship’s ‘Relationship’ with Money
For some couples, money is one of the top ‘reasons’ for divorce and relationship stress. For other couples, money is one of the means they use to expand their horizons, amplify their mission, and fill their days with more of what they desire.
Want to be like the latter? Then read on!
In this post, you’ll learn:
Why you can’t ignore money in your relationship;
How to feel better about money (and attract more of it); and,
How to talk about money whether you’re just starting your relationship, in the middle, or in a long-term relationship! It’s not easy… but you can do it!
Before we continue, just remember that we’re relationship strategists and not financial advisors or planners, so we’re going to approach this from a relationship perspective, not a financial advising one. Also, this article contains Amazon affiliate links which means that if you decide to purchase the books we recommend through our links, we’d receive a small referral fee at no extra cost to you.
Why you need to talk about money in your relationship
Money (the way we spend it, use it, and think about) is often tied to our deepest needs like security, freedom, and self-actualization.
It’s fine and dandy when you’re single and responsible for yourself, but things get more complex when you’re in an intimate relationship and share financial responsibilities (and sometimes income!). That’s why it’s such a BIG topic that you must discuss proactively.
In fact, money, like in-laws, children, work, and sex are one of those BIG topics that require proactive conversations… especially for ambitious couples like YOU. If these priorities aren’t discussed, relationships can spiral.
On the one hand, if your partner uses money in a way that doesn’t sit well with you, you might react harshly because you might feel like a part of you is being disrespected or threatened.
For example, here’s something David would say to Lindsey judgmentally: “I like a good drink from time to time, but WHY are you buying drinks when we’re out?? It’s such a waste of money… it’s overpriced and puts toxins in your body for no good reason!”
It seems like his grievance is about money, but it’s even deeper than that: it’s subconsciously a threat to financial and personal health and security, which are the core needs that are being triggered here.
Here’s what Lindsey would respond with: “Sometimes, we have to just live it up in life!” For her, spending the money on a drink here and there is subconsciously about freedom, being in the present, and enjoying each other’s company. David’s comment is a threat to those ideals.
Neither of us is factually wrong, we just have different perspectives. Best case scenario, we brush it off in the moment and talk it out. Worst case scenario, we spiral into an argument, in public, at a bar (ha ha). Luckily it never got that bad!
That’s a relatively low-stakes example, but as you can imagine, if these tensions are left unchecked, it can bring on passive aggression, criticism, contempt, resentment, and judgment into the relationship.
On the other hand, in the areas where you might have easier, more flowing, and abundant agreements about money, moulah becomes a means of maximizing your relationship and elevating your life!
For example, we have relatively similar and healthy saving and spending habits (AKA we spend less than we make). In fact, being together has increased our income without proportionately increasing our expenses. Cool eh?
This affords us the privilege of meeting our basic needs (safety, security, food, and shelter). And gives us further privilege to invest money towards higher needs like freedom and self-actualization (education, travel, health, and other experiences... Oh and the occasional drink - Cheers!).
And now, we’re actively working on developing our abundance mindset, which we’ll share with you next!
By now, I’m sure you get the point: money is money, but because it’s a vehicle that ties in to people’s values and needs, it’s a hot topic that needs to be examined at the beginning and throughout most intimate relationships . Let’s find out how!
How to feel better about money (and attract more of it)
Step 1: Know your story about money
The story you tell yourself about money sets the tone for your relationship with money… and your relationship’s ‘relationship’ with money.
Put simply, if you have a ‘scarcity story’, then money will be limited. If you have an ‘abundant story’, then we believe money will flow more easily.
If you combine your scarcity stories, even subconsciously as it often goes, then you’ll share and perhaps even amplify financial insecurities.
However, if you combine more abundant stories, then your relationship will likely be a source of financial ease that expands your horizons and amplifies your mission.
Therefore, the first thing that helped us feel better about money (and to attract more money) was to align with abundance. We’re still working on this!
We won’t lie, when we first started dating, we had some pretty constricting ideas about money and relationships.
Lindsey’s story went like this: “Saving and keeping track of expenses is the only way to live, because you never know when your partner might leave you”.
David’s story went like this: “Money doesn’t grow on trees. To deserve money, I need to do well in school, get a good job (multiple jobs for that matter), and I have to keep saving and saving and saving.”
These beliefs served us for a while, but we feel we’ve outgrown them. They now feel self-limiting because they’re more closely aligned with a scarcity mindset and past patterns, which made us feel insecure about finances and the relationship.
So what is your relationship with money? What words do you use to describe money or when you’re talking about finances? To what extent does money help or hinder your relationship?
Think about these questions deeply.
Step 2: Re-define your relationship with money
Once you have a clearer picture of where you fall on the scarcity to abundance spectrum, begin to ask: “What do I need to do so that I can be in a state of ease in relation to money?”
For us to be in a state of ease with money, we a) read finance oriented books to develop confidence, b) got a financial advisor to feel extra confident, c) began to relax about money, d) decided to make a conscious choice to be non-judgmental whenever we chose to spend or not spend, e) asked the Universe if we wanted to something and instead of just going to buy it, and f) began trusting that there’s enough money to go around the world.
As we did this work, we also introduced daily mantras that revolved around living a life full of abundance (feel free to send us a DM or Email if you want a copy of our personal abundance mantras).
As a result, our relationship is less stressful when it comes to money.
But what if you have opposing stories (e.g. scarcity vs. abundance) about money? In our view, that may limit your abundance potential, unless you talk it out. Read on to see how that can be approached in the next section.
Step 3: Talk about money and your relationship
Now that you’ve reflected on your personal relationship with money, discovered your patterns, and begun to ask what it would feel like to be more abundant, it’s a good idea to talk it out together. But first…
Set ground rules
When it comes to sensitive topics like money where people are bound to have some differences (at least) and to even trigger each other without knowing it, it’s best to set some ground rules. We recommend you set the following intentions together before talking and throughout:
Remember that you’re on the same side, even if you disagree;
Believe that your partner is doing what they think is best for them, even if it’s not best for you;
Be curious about their perspective, even if don’t understand at first;
Stop the conversation if it’s getting too heated, even (and especially) if you just want to prove yourself right, and agree to reconvene when you’ve had time to cool off;
Don’t try to manipulate your partner because that won’t result in authentic resolution, even if you think it will give you a temporary solution; and,
Be responsible for your own happiness -- if you need something, ask with zero expectations in return. Unconditional love is about loving each other as we are, not about about loving each other for the potential of what we could be (even when it comes to money!).
It may not be easy, but you can do it if you keep these ground rules in mind. To sum them up: you need to be eager to resolve the issues with awareness and compassion.
Share your story about money
OK - now that the ground rules have been set, let’s get on with the actual dialogue.
Remember the ‘story’ we talked about above? Make it known to each other and see if you can dig deeper and where you can support or challenge each other with compassion and respect.
Ask each other where your beliefs and habits came from, what role your primary caregivers had in ingraining these beliefs, whether these beliefs still serve you, and what you’d like to believe about money instead.
Also, be transparent about ‘your’ current financial situation, because it becomes ‘our’ financial situation to an extent. Even if you have debt that you need to ditch, a gambling problem to overcome, or a serious shopping impulse to get over. This is the time to talk it out in a safe space.
Trust is a foundation of healthy relationships.
Talk about your ideal lifestyle and where finances fit in
Begin with the end in mind. What are your individual long term individual financial and life goals? Give yourself permission to dream big here folks! What are your collaborative financial and life goals (e.g. kids, travel, home, school, transportation, fitness and lifestyle outcomes, emergency funds, beach front cabin, owning your own business, living in a forest, backpacking forever, etc.)? No matter your dreams, dream big and review these goals together to see if you’re aligned, where you might want to make compromises, and where you can invite more abundance.
Develop a system, be ready to compromise, and track progress
Once you have the end in mind, think strategically about where your relationship and finances are today in relation to where you want them to be, then set a phased lifestyle plan for moving forward.
We say “phased lifestyle plan” because from our experience, trying to pivot all of your habits and beliefs at once in one day or week can be hard to sustain. Plus,if you change 5 things at once, it’s hard to know which of the 5 things is actually making a difference.
We like to set the vision, then adjust one money related habit every few weeks, and monitor and adjust as we go. As you develop confidence, introduce more changes towards your ideal lifestyle. :)
Some couples prefer to set up a strict budget and stick to it (e.g. using a spreadsheet or app to track), while others prefer to rely on avoiding situations where they will feel tempted to spend frivolously (e.g. avoiding the junk food aisle while grocery shopping), and others, focus purely on abundance (e.g. mindfulness, mantras, reading, meditation, generosity, etc.).
Whatever your system, make sure that it’s a system that is clear to both of you, that it’s flexible yet structured and that it doesn’t rely solely on your will power to sustain (e.g. trying to remember to put money aside every now and then to save).
As much as possible, your system should be automated (e.g. using the bank system to automatically setting aside money for whatever debt, savings, or investments you choose). We even have alarms on our phone to trigger our abundance mantras and such.
There are plenty of free resources out there for budgeting, investing, and abundance. As for must-have paid resources, we 100% recommend the Wealthy Barber Returns for money management 101, Think and Grow Rich for abundance thinking, and Rich Dad Poor Dad for a perspective on investing (BTW, those are our Amazon affiliate links).
We’ve hopefully given you a lot to think about.
Why not make a date to talk about money? Put a reminder in your calendar to do it a few times a year (fellow Canadians, the current tax season is a perfect time of year ;).
As a heads up, talking about money once likely won’t lead to sustainable action. We’ve been together for almost a decade and we talk about finances, our money goals, habits, etc. regularly because it’s always evolving.
If you’ve tried talking about money and it doesn’t seem to be going well, sign up to receive our Free Relationship Guide on our home page because it contains our top 10 relationship mind-shifts that can help proactive couples elevate.
And, if you’re really ambitious, contact us to set up a free discovery call, so we can support you through your next steps.
Let us know your money stories, your financial tips, and how your next ‘money date’ goes on social media or in our private community Facebook group. Share the article if you love it!
Sending you love and light,