Archive for money

A Spender or a Saver?

Learn to negotiate your money, the biggest pitfall in couple life

Forget the chores, the sex and even the in-laws, it is the unsolvable disagreements about money that research now shows to be the biggest source of serious difference leading to separation in couples. Interestingly, a recent YouGov survey puts problems with family finances at 26% of all difficulties. This comes ahead of understanding each other, physical relationships and household chores. So it’s well worth sorting this one out early in the relationship if it appears to overtake sex and the washing up.

Of course it’s not just about coinage – this just highlights deeper tensions, but exploring what is really at the heart of these rows can be vital in helping to save relationships.

Couples who come for counselling will often bring lists of perceived slights or grievances, but money is often not flagged up as an immediate problem. Yet it is pivotal as part of how we see ourselves and others. Money defines us, it can denote our place in society and will reflect to a large degree how others see us. Like it or not, It can influence how we dress, where we live and our perceived status in the world we inhabit.

Therapists dealing with couples will usually ask for a family tree to make better sense of each clients origins, influences and the relationship history that can shape future hopes and expectations.
Dig a little deeper and the way families deal with their assets can have a long lasting effect on their dependents.

We hear of parents or grandparents who made or lost a fortune. People who watched a hard working father lose his job, or get into debt. Clients who were raised by an alcoholic parent who spent recklessly on drink or drugs. Siblings who seemed favoured by ‘unfair’ levels of gifts or education. Bullying that appeared to be influenced by seemingly different lifestyles to classmates.
These are powerful messages absorbed in childhood and will have strong influences on how each of us decides to deal with our assets.
Money can be seen as security – a buffer against feared future calamities or it can signify a life enhancing conduit to fun and good things.

Spend or save? This can be where couples find it impossible to find a solution. Therapy can offer a safe place unpick the reasons behind these deeply ingrained beliefs. Arguments about money are not usually about money, they are about protecting hopes and dreams and can escalate horribly when people feel dismissed or not understood. We may define ‘value’ in many different ways and its vital to grasp what the other hears in this word. Couples need to dig beneath the obvious and try to understand the emotional content of what can seem a purely practical issue.
In the rosy glow of a new relationship, we often assume that we shall just mysteriously understand and be understood. Transparency around finances is an important foundation to any long term relationship.

It’s impossible to change the deeper messages that we all inherited from the way our families dealt with their own problems, but we can listen to each other with tolerance. The acceptance of what shaped the views of a partner who appears to see things fundamentally differently, can give insights that will lead to better understanding.
Sometimes, it’s not just about the money, but it is about what the money signifies. So discuss calmly with an open mind to find a better way.

Christina Fraser

Fundamentals for Couple Closeness

Couples come to relationship counselling with a wide range of unresolved issues, and the therapist often has to listen closely to hear the themes behind the words.
In the clamour of unheard grievances, missed opportunities and feelings of neglect, the predominant cry is “we can no longer communicate”
Somehow the ease of sharing has become fractured as time goes on, and couples cease to work as a trusting unit and often become defended individuals.
One subject that can easily become overlooked is money.
How a couple organises their finances can become a rich seam for therapeutic discussion.
Money rather than sex has become the hard-to-tackle conversation for many clients.
Once this becomes an open topic, it can release a torrent of unresolved grievances, with accompanying feelings of dependency and responsibility, plus fears around a perceived lack of transparency.
Trust is the foundation of a couple and usually only discussed in the context of fidelity or loyalty, but trusting the other with feelings of a fair and joint partnership can feel just as important.

Is ‘work’ only rewarded financially?
Do you need or want to know what your partner earns?
Do you need or want joint or separate bank accounts?
Do you sit together regularly and spend time understanding your incomings and outgoings?
Do you take time to plan for your future goals?

Each couple can add their own personal needs to this list, and it is important to retain an open conversation as things will change monetarily in tandem with individual circumstances
Opening up this often tricky topic can begin a process of transparency and sharing that can enhance the trust that most couples so desperately desire.

Christina Fraser