Why is money such a challenge for so many couples? It’s well known that money issues are at the top of the charts for causes of divorce. In order to answer this question, we first need to go back in time to our childhood.
According to neuroscience research, our brains are 95% developed by about age 12, and begin that process at age 2. Think about your 2-year old brain as a brand-new computer with only the most basic programming to make it function. Over time, we install (or have installed for us) lots of additional programs based on the environment we live in. By the time we reach age 12, our hard drive is 95% full!
When it comes to learning about money, much of the programming we are taking in during childhood is creating subconscious patterns based on what we are seeing, hearing and feeling from our parents about their relationship with money. Unfortunately they are not always the best role models for us! If you constantly heard your mother, father or both complain about never having enough money, chances are very good this describes you as well.
As a money coach, it’s amazing to watch the “aha” moments when I delve into these childhood memories with a client and they realize they have taken on many of the same behaviors as their parents. And of course the parent got it from their parent and this can go back for generations. Once we understand how these money patterns are formed, and the fact that it mostly happens at a subconscious level, we can begin to forgive ourselves and our parents and transform any challenging patterns that are blocking us from a healthy money relationship.
When it comes to couples, we have to realize that they are each operating with these subconscious patterns and most likely unaware of their origin. One of the partners may simply see a negative behavior in the other, and become frustrated and resentful. He or she is most likely carrying their own challenges around money which may exacerbate the problem. Over time, if unaddressed, this often leads to a breakdown in the relationship and divorce.
With the right coaching, if the relationship isn’t too far gone, each partner has an opportunity to learn about the other’s childhood experiences with money and understand where the challenging patterns came from and why. It’s a true “aha” for both parties. Once the awareness and understanding is there, they work on forgiveness and compassion as well as practical exercises to begin the process of healing their relationship – not just with money, but with each other. In most cases, couples have never had a serious conversation about money with each other, so this can be a real breakthrough in their relationship.
The challenge, of course, is reaching a couple before it’s too late. But even if the divorce process has begun, money coaching can still be extremely effective in facilitating healthy negotiations around the financial issues. With understanding in place of resentment, the outcome is a huge win for everyone involved!