Are your finances affecting your relationship?

Personal Growth, Relationship

Written by Tracey Burns

May 5, 2012

I originally wrote this article about layoffs and terminations on May 5, 2012, but the content could have been written this week. Today it’s the tech industry in the news with article after article about the deep cuts being made to the workforce. At first read, the content reflects prudent cost cutting measures and budget balancing acts. My mind zooms immediately to the individual impact.

We argued so much about how we spent our money that it tore us apart. In the end it cost over $50,000 in legal fees, the emotional costs were even higher. ~ Tracey Burns

A psychic once said to me that I have a mind that paints elaborate scenarios that read like a colourful, emmm… book. True story. I think a thought and in a flash I’ll have created several chapters out of it complete with alternate endings. Rowling’s got nothing on me.  

As big as my imagination is my heart and compassion.  For me, the articles cause me to wince, I know the cost can be devastating financially and emotionally.

If you know someone in this situation the very best thing you can do for them is to continue to believe in them, reflect their greatness to them, acknowledge them, love them up. If you are currently supporting someone in that situation and you find yourself losing patience… take a breath.  When we find ourselves thrust into transition our nasty internal chatter can become incredibly LOUD!  

Depending on your relationship with the newly unemployed you may now face greater pressure to provide financial support.  Finances are incredible stressors in relationships at the best of times. You’ll have your “thing” about money, your partner will have theirs.

You may have signed cohabitation agreements, discuss how the bank accounts are going to go, how you will pay bills together, and if you are savvy you will have created a plan of how you’ll grow your money together. All of that addresses the doing but fails to address how you’ll be when life throws you a curveball. 

Let’s look at an example – If you were raised in a home where socializing was always paired with food, big family dinners and frequent outings to nice restaurants might have been the norm.  You may have heard your parents’ relationship to money reflected in their spending habits, “what the heck, you can’t take it with you. Might as well enjoy it now.”  

Unconsciously that becomes your way to live. Doing so may even feel like home.  Your partner on the other hand might have been raised in a house where meals were just nutrition, family gatherings and socialization occurred without the necessity of food. Perhaps your partner heard their parents say, “it is important to save for a rainy day”.  

Consider the impact these two situations could have on your ability to manage money together, especially if each of you adopted your parents’ context around money and brought that into your partnership.  If you haven’t worked this out, you might be experiencing resentment and frustration.

While it’s important to have a clear financial plan it’s equally important to have a clear understanding of you and your partner’s psychology around money.

Keep these conversations light and fun. Explore with humour and curiosity. These conversations are a chance to deepen your intimacy and partner to blend your two individual ways of dealing with money to form one new way that will fulfill the plans you create together for your financial future.

Here are some steps to navigating your finances whether you’re gainfully employed or going through transition.

  • Explore without judgment how you’re navigating the transitions and changes in your life
  • Reflect on how this is impacting your relationship
  • Accept the change and transition as an opening (giving yourself space and time to do so)
  • Get clear on what support you need during this time
  • Openly communicate with your partner with curiosity and fun. Create space for both of you to share your experience and discuss how the two of you can navigate these changes and transitions as a team.

The return on your investment will be peace and harmony.

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