A conversation about money is one of the most loaded conversations you will ever have with your partner. And I’ll tell you why (but bear in mind I’m not a psychologist).
Money conversations aren’t really about the money.
Money is just the conduit, the outer expression of a whole host of emotions that you may not even understand or recognize.
Talks about money are really about the sadness you felt when your parents didn’t buy you the phone or the toy or the coat or the shoes you so desperately wanted, and felt, way down in the depths of your soul, that you could never live without. But they’re also about the elation you felt when you made your first major purchase. Or got the present that you didn’t think you’d get on Christmas morning.
Money is connected to the peace you feel when you have a big, fat emergency fund. The excitement when you get a bonus. The fear when the government shuts down.
You name it, money will make you feel it.
If you’re reading this, you probably survived not getting the Adidas coat that would have made you cool in middle school (just me?). But you likely didn’t live unscathed. The experience and the disappointment likely left what Brad Kessel, author of It’s Not about the Money, calls a “money wound.” A scar left by an experience with money that, consciously or unconsciously, affects how you deal with money today.
And that is why money conversations are difficult. They aren’t really about the money.
Dave Ramsey says that money fights and money problems are a leading cause of divorce, and it’s really no wonder. Money is just money, a piece of paper that can easily rip or burn and be worth nothing, but when we look at it, it’s everything.
And it’s in everything. If you woke up this morning on a bed, wearing pajamas, and covered with a blanket, thank money. You turned on the lights, thank money. You got dressed, brushed your teeth, ate breakfast, got in your car…you get the idea–thank money.
Because of the loaded nature of money, starting a conversation, no matter what stage of your relationship you’re in, can be daunting. I always say that the best thing that my husband and I did while we were dating was talk about money early and often. There’s a lot less pressure surrounding the topic when you’re newly dating and heading to the beach for the day than if you’ve been married for years and are surrounded by bills.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t dive it at anytime. It might just take some easing into. And when you’re on the same page and managing money together, it makes handling money and making money decisions so much easier!