Do you argue about money?
Here’s a common argument: A couple starts talking about making vacation plans, and one partner brings up the trip to Italy they’ve always wanted to take. The other partner says they can’t afford it right now. The more they talk about it, the worse they both feel. The one who wants to plan the trip begins to feel trapped and deprived. They might say “I’ll never get to do what’s important to me.” The one who wants to save the money feels anxious. They might say “I’m the only one who’s being realistic.”
They’re trying to talk about money, but they’re both having big, painful feelings. The argument escalates.
Money can be the hardest thing to talk about. Maybe you’ve figured out how to communicate well about everything from sex to in-laws, but you can’t talk about money without falling apart.
Why do we get stuck when we talk about money?
Most of us aren’t emotionally healthy around money. We haven’t done the emotional healing around our money issues that we need to do.
As we are doing our personal healing, the area of money often gets skipped over.
As Bari Tessler, financial therapist and author of “The Art Of Money” says:
“From body image to spirituality, diet to a meaningful career, you’ve gotten brave, gotten honest, and worked to create healthier, more intimate and mindful relationships with yourself, with others, and with the different aspects of your life. But there’s one nagging exception.”
Some of the feelings likely to come up when you think about money are:
Whether you’re talking about travel plans or just where to go to dinner tonight, those feelings may come up when you discuss money with your sweetie.
You many think that these feelings will go away when you have more money or when you get better at managing your money. Maybe a new budgeting app will make the difference? Or maybe your next raise will fix it.
Our emotional pain and lack of comfort around money can’t be fixed with more money or better money management.
The only way to soothe that pain is by building our EMOTIONAL skills around money. As Bari says, we need “money healing.”
What does emotional health around money look like?
When you’ve done some money healing, you feel more ease around money. You know which situations are likely to trigger painful feelings, and you take care of yourself when those feelings arise. Rather than punishing yourself, numbing out or reacting impulsively, you slow down and breathe.
Emotional health around money doesn’t mean your triggers disappear. It means that when you start to feel shame, guilt, panic or fear, you breathe and tell yourself “There’s that feeling. I’ve been here before.”
Maybe pain gets triggered when you look at your bank balances. Maybe it’s when you pay bills. Maybe it’s when you’re shopping for groceries. Maybe it’s when you see something you want and you’re not sure whether you can afford it. Maybe it’s when you look at tax forms.
And of course you can get triggered when you’re in a conversation about money with your sweetie.
The journey towards money healing starts with you. As you work through your old stories and faulty money messages, and apply all of your emotional skills to the area of money, you find more ease.
When you’ve begun to heal your money pain, those conversations with your sweetie get better. You’re less reactive. When you talk about vacation plans, you’re be able to name your feelings. You say,“I’m feeling scared. I need to slow down and think about this” or, “My story about deprivation is coming up. I know it’s not really about this trip.”
If your sweetie takes their own money healing journey, that’s even better.
Embark on your money healing journey. Bari Tessler’s book, The Art Of Money is a great place to start.
If you’re ready to talk to an experienced couples therapist, call us at (415) 534-4051 or schedule a free and confidential phone consultation with one of us now.