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  • Johanna Lynn

Harmonizing Finances and Relationships: Understanding Your Money Imprint to Avoid Arguments

Updated: Apr 16

I’m sure you’ve heard it before:  money is reported to be one of the top reasons for conflict and breakdown in relationships.

You might be surprised to hear that it’s not due to the lack of money. But much more the lack of compatibility and communication about money.

There are constructive ways to have these conversations while making sure you’re being heard and understood by your partner.

First let’s take a moment to consider everyday choices you make with money:

  1. Are you the friend who often picks up the cheque when going out together?

  2. Do you give extravagant gifts? Even with friends that rarely reciprocate?

  3. Do you hide purchases in the back of the closet from your significant other?

  4. Do you avoid talking about money with your spouse because you sense it will spark an argument?

As an expert in the field of epigenetics, I offer a unique perspective related to how family history shapes not only your relationship with your finances but how that plays out in your relationships.

Consider all the dynamics that shaped your inner relationship with money from what you overheard from your parents, the struggles they may have lived through or the resources they had and how they used them.

Now consider the impact of understanding your partner’s money blueprint and how that has shaped how they feel about spending or investing money.

With this dual understanding, you can now effectively address the dynamics that lead to recurring money arguments and, if not addressed ultimately, divorce.

If you’re going to understand and be understood by your partner, you both need to know where you’re coming from regarding money.

Here are some of the key guidelines for having a non-combative, productive talk about money with your partner.

1. Financial Trust and Honesty for a Thriving Marriage

You may be surprised to discover that in order to thrive financially, you must first address what you’re carrying from your family of origin.

The truth about our relationship with money can be tangled up with guilt, shame, and jealousy intertwined with our family history and this impacts your decisions with money today in more ways than you know.

The truth is many of us feel ashamed and judged whenever the topic comes up, which often leads to completely avoiding addressing their finances altogether.

Let’s Dive In

Find a time when you won’t be disturbed to share your money story with each other. What do you remember about your childhood? Especially when money came up around the kitchen table, what was said? Did your family have more than your neighbors or relatives? Or was their embarrassment about having less? Was the conversation about saving for a rainy day or more connected to you only live once?

Perhaps the most important part of this is to listen without judgment and be honest about any hang-ups or negative history you have with money.

Be sure to include your financial hopes and dreams and what is possible together in the future you are building. Over my years of working with clients, I’ve heard from them, that the more they can open up about their money history and have those heart-to-heart talks with their partners, the better things get. Not only do their relationships improve, but they also gain insights into their own spending, shopping, saving, and investing habits.

2. The Importance of “I” statements

When it comes to finances, you’re likely familiar with how easily defensiveness can arise if the conversation turns sensitive.

When discussing your partner’s money habits, it’s essential to tread carefully and avoid using accusatory ‘you’ statements, as they can cause them to tune out from the conversation right from the start.

Money conversations tend to go better if you approach them in terms of what your own needs are, rather than what the other person is doing wrong. Simply put, use “I” statements.

I was working with a couple just last week, they shared that after moving in together, they quickly realized their different approaches to spending.

He was passionate about the latest gadgets and frequently upgraded his tech devices, while she preferred to stick with what she had until it was absolutely necessary to replace it.

They had to figure out a way to handle this without tearing their relationship apart or breaking the bank.

He valued having the newest gadgets for convenience and enjoyment, whereas she prioritized financial stability and minimizing unnecessary expenses.

Guiding them to have an honest conversation that included each other family history with money that shaped their values with money, instead of accusing him of overspending or her of being cheap or lagging on tech. Beyond the gadget conversation, they were about to talk about financial goals and how they could make money work for both of them, while still honoring differing spending preferences and financial well-being.

At the end of our session, she was able to talk about how it felt to watch their savings disappear at the tech store and how much underlying strain that was putting on their connection.

He was surprised to hear how much this had been weighing on her and opened up a new understanding about how to move forward together with other shared financial decisions.

3. Aligning Conversation with What You Really Want 

Another common issue that comes up with a few of my clients who opt to avoid the “spend less” conversation they often just tell themselves that they “can’t afford to do the things they love to do”.

Instead of having a conversation about “spending less in order to save money,” be specific. Share that there is a true end goal (or several!) in mind.

  1. Are you trying to save money so that you can renovate the kitchen?

  2. Do you want to save so that you can buy a house someday?

  3. Or pay off your mortgage more quickly.

  4. Do you want to avoid interest rates by paying down your credit card debt?

  5. Is there that bucket list location you want to travel to?

Explain these things to your partner. This sparks a conversation about your goals and clarity instead of your fears or insecurities, or heading into a conversation about blame or shame.

I share with my clients the importance of having honest conversations with their partners about the things they want to achieve.

It’s not putting off going on that vacation of a lifetime, it’s about getting free of credit card debt. And then, booking the trip.

If you explain your financial choices in terms of your dreams, most partners tend to be more understanding and open up the line of communication much more.

What works for some couples is to have a combined travel savings account that we contribute to each month. Keep the dream front and center each month and watch that savings account grow.

If you find the money conversation difficult in your relationship, you may be ready to decode your money blueprint, along with understanding the hidden influences that shape your partner’s relationship with money.

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