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  • Writer's pictureTehilla Luttig

"How to Stop Fighting About Money with Your Partner and Strengthen Your Relationship Instead"

Money, often seen merely as a medium of exchange, carries with it an immense emotional weight. Its significance extends beyond the tangible, touching the very core of our values, fears, and aspirations. Conversations about money, therefore, are rarely just about numbers; they are deeply emotive discussions that can either forge stronger bonds or drive wedges in relationships. The key to navigating these conversations constructively is to understand the underlying emotions and values, set clear intentions, and cultivate empathy. Let’s explore three transformative approaches to turn financial disagreements into opportunities for connection and understanding.

1. Deciphering the Values Underlying Money

Money can symbolise various things to different people - security, freedom, power, or love, to name a few. For some, it’s a safety net ensuring stability and security in an uncertain world. For others, it represents freedom – the means to explore, experience, and enjoy life without constraints.

A quick and easy strategy to bridge the gap in perceptions is to shift the language used in discussions about finances. Instead of talking about “money,” swap out the words (e.g. instead of “It cost $600 dollars!” Say “I am not feeling very safe financially at the moment, and our spending freaks me out. Can we talk about the actual situation and how to meet both our needs here?” So, if for one, money means “security,” and for the other, “freedom,” use these terms. This linguistic shift can lead to a profound change in understanding and empathy, making it easier to see from your partner’s perspective. Another example could be, instead of “It’s just $6 (or $600) dollars!” to say “I feel very restricted in quite a few areas, and speaking about spending adds to that feeling. Can we chat a bit about this feeling, and how we can honor each other here?”

Dig deeper into what “security” or “freedom” means for each of you. Explore other ways you’re feeling unsafe or stiffled. And think about what money means to you - how was it addressed growing up, etc. Understanding these nuances can demystify financial goals and help align them more closely with shared values and dreams.

2. Setting Your Intentions Before the Conversation

It’s crucial to prepare yourself before the conversation. Remember that this is a hot topic, and that you are not stupid nor is your partner. This is emotionally heavy, so proceed with love, curiosity, and a generous heap of patience. Approach financial discussions not as debates to be won, but as opportunities for insight, understanding, and mutual support. Before starting the conversation, set yourself a clear intention.

“What do I hope to get from this conversation? Why is this important to me?”

Remind yourself and your partner that the goal is not persuasion but connection and understanding. It can take multiple conversations before you find a suitable solution, but it’s worth it. And the more you two manage these difficult conversations with peace and commitment, the closer you two will grow (and the easier the conversations can get).

3. Empathy: Walking in Their Shoes

Take time to genuinely consider your partner’s viewpoint and feelings about money. No matter how far from your perspective it may be.

Reflect on their experiences, fears, and hopes. This isn’t about undermining your own feelings but about opening a space for compassionate dialogue.

By showing genuine interest and empathy for your partner’s feelings, you pave the way for more heartfelt and constructive conversations. This approach not only bridges gaps in understanding but also strengthens the emotional connection between you.

To wrap up, despite differing perspectives, find and emphasise the common ground. Whether it’s a shared dream of buying a home, traveling, or securing a comfortable retirement, focusing on shared goals can transform the conversation from confrontational to collaborative.

While these strategies can significantly improve communication and understanding around money, it’s essential to recognize when professional help might be beneficial. If persistent issues arise, stemming possibly from deeper traumas or unresolved childhood experiences, seeking one-on-one therapy or counseling could be a crucial step. In my experience, money is a complex topic with many tentacles in one’s fears, values, past, and shame - and that is why it leads to so many arguments (no matter what the income of the couple).

In conclusion, transforming financial disagreements into opportunities for connection and understanding is not just about changing how we talk about money. It’s about deepening our understanding of ourselves and our partners, setting the stage for more meaningful and supportive relationships.

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