What would you prefer to talk about with your friends: money or sex? Anytime I’ve asked that question, without hesitation the response is sex. Why? Society has made money such a taboo subject we have a hard time discussing it even with our most intimate friends and partners. It’s no wonder so many people struggle with money issues – whether they have a lot or not enough.
To begin explaining why money creates such a challenge for us, we need to look no further than our childhood. Our money patterns, beliefs and behaviors are often set early in life before we are even capable of understanding the significance of them. Neuroscience research tells us that we learn and are imprinted with this information primarily between the ages of 2 and 12, when the brain becomes 95% developed.
Who are we learning from? For most of us, it’s our parents. Unfortunately they aren’t always the best role models for us! These beliefs can become so ingrained that we don’t even realize they are there. So when your partner says something that triggers a pattern that was set in childhood, you react automatically, often with emotions that you can’t explain. To your partner, it appears irrational and difficult to understand.
With all of these challenges around money, how do we have a healthy conversation about it? Here are a few tips:
- Take a step back and evaluate your feelings
- Using active listening often helps the situation
- Avoid blaming and shaming language
- Set up time and space to have a conversation (avoid first thing in the morning and right before bedtime)
- Writing down your thoughts and feeling ahead of time often helps you avoid those inevitable arguments
- Keep a money journal where you can write down the emotions you experience (positive and negative) around money.
If you find that these strategies just aren’t working for you. Money coaching, Couples coaching or even Therapy may be in order.
Remember to be gentle with each other.
Be gentle with your partner when they are reacting. More than likely their reaction is not about you or even the present situation. Start to tune into your feelings at the time you are having the reaction. If you can start to identify the emotion that is present you will also be able to start to separate it from the present situation. This will help you to identify what is truly going on rather than blaming it on your current money situation and your partner.