The Kenwood Press
: 07/01/2017

Common money traps for couples and ways to avoid them

Donna Colfer

Second in a three-part series

Growing up, most of us aren’t taught about money in school or by our parents, which causes confusion and conflict by the time we’re adults, trying to manage money daily. Once we find a partner, we not only bring our love to share, but also our unconscious learned money behaviors. It’s no wonder couples fight over money: they don’t stand a chance with this scenario.

Here are seven common traps – and ways to avoid them – taken from the book The Heart of Money: A Couple’s Guide to Creating True Financial Intimacy, by Deborah Price.

• Using money as a form of control or manipulation.

• Failure to understand each other’s money fears and triggers.

• Misunderstanding each other’s financial wants and needs.

• A clash in core values over what’s important.

• Unclear financial agreements and priorities.

• Assuming unconscious roles (such as Dependent and Caretaker).

• Procrastinating or withholding pertinent financial information.

Here are some ways to avoid these issues, all of which are covered in the above-mentioned book.

• Get to know each other’s “money types” early in your relationship.

• Talk openly about your issues, fears, and concerns about money.

• Make clear agreements about how to handle money together as a couple.

• Never use money as a means of buying or withholding love.

• Take responsibility for your own financial wellbeing.

• Deal with money issues as they arise so that they don’t become a source of resentment.

When we’re in harmony with money, we feel safe, secure, and hopeful for the future. The same is true when we are in harmony with our partner. All is safe and secure in the world and we feel connected to our hopes and dreams for the future.

Unfortunately, the minute we become emotionally triggered about money, our internal dynamics can quickly shift from safe and secure to fearful and anxious. This causes us to project fears and anxieties to our partner. With little or no warning, all of those wonderful feelings of harmony and connectedness disappear. Being in a happy partnership means a willingness to understand and show compassion when money fears surface. Immediately opting to assume the worst kind of anxiety is a choice, just as talking openly and calmly is a choice. When you don’t understand the triggers or hidden patterns you or your partner display emotionally and psychologically, communication becomes difficult.

Many people think the more money they have, the fewer problems they’ll have… but that’s not always true. Most of our money problems require looking at our inner landscape, our emotional triggers and hidden patterns. When we ignore what’s happening on the inside and focus on acquiring more money, the potential to create a bigger problem triples. Too few of us are prepared for the emotional, social, and practical consequences of wealth. When we take this into consideration, we can address issues more effectively. Look deeply within at triggers and hidden patterns rather than driving towards the pursuit of money, which is laced with pitfalls. Look at many big-money lottery winners, for example. When the winner doesn’t understand the potential impact money has on their life, wealth creates disaster.

When we can truly feel safe and secure with our partner, we can relax and allow ourselves to be genuinely open and vulnerable. Unfortunately, many couples don’t experience this level of intimacy and often fall into the traps listed above.

You can create the financial life you both want and deserve by understanding and supporting each other to be financially aware and empowered.

Next month, in part three of this series, I will address healthy, practical money management steps to implement, and give information about how to communicate more effectively to increase financial intimacy in your relationship.