Resources, Insider tips, and more

Don't miss out! Enjoy
perks just for signing up!

Resources you get:
  • Glossary of financial terms
  • Financial Book Club: What I'm Reading
  • Financial Independence Planning Worksheets
Featured 02.15.2017

"While it seems insurmountable when in the thick of it, I can tell you with confidence: couples with money problems don’t have to live this way. A resolution can be found."

Love and Money

I watch couples struggle to communicate about money all the time. And so I decided to turn to one of my colleagues, Dr. Sara Schwarzbaum, L.M.F.T & L.C.P.C. Sara is a gifted couples counselor and the Founder of Couples Counseling Associates. She has some terrific insights into managing disagreements about money between spouses or partners. So, this week, I turn my post over to her with the hope that if you, dear reader, are struggling with the relationship that you and your partner are having with money, she might shed some light on how you can start to move forward as a unit.

Here is what Sara has to say:

It’s no secret. Couples often struggle over money issues. As soon as the honeymoon is over and real life begins, many couples watch what start as small conflicts over finances, debt, investment strategies, or spending habits slowly escalate to regular arguments. Often, in an effort to keep the peace, couples eventually stop talking to each other about money altogether. (I don’t recommend that approach because, eventually, the topic is unavoidable and an explosive argument ensues.)

While it seems insurmountable when in the thick of it, I can tell you with confidence: couples with money problems don’t have to live this way. A resolution can be found.

Here is where healing starts. It’s important to realize that disagreements about money are not just about numbers. Money represents an emotional space for both you and your partner; emotions that originate in your financial ancestry. This affects how you feel about financial chores and determines how you approach your financial goals.

So, with that, the solution to your challenges with money begins with getting on the same page with your partner. Both of you need to do some emotional heavy lifting and dig deep to expose the roots of your relationship with money. Once you have uncovered what motivates you about money, you will be able to give your partner the keys to communicating with you about it. Tensions will ease and real change in behavior for both of you can begin.

There are three meetings about money that have to happen in order to begin to move forward. These are real meetings that require focus from both of you.

(Cell phones and media off! Kids in bed!)

I recommend setting a date for each meeting and keeping it – the same way you would keep a professional meeting. Here are the topics for each meeting:

Meeting 1: Financial Ancestry

Meeting 2: Attitudes About Financial Chores

Meeting 3: Financial Goals

You will both have to arrive at these meetings prepared. That means that you will have reviewed the questions prior and have given real thought as to how you can best answer them. Bring your written answers to each meeting.  Take turns reading your answers to one another and let each one lead to a conversation about your feelings.

Here are the questions that I recommend you review at each meeting.

Financial Ancestry     

  1. What are your earliest memories about money?
  2. What is your most painful money memory?
  3. What is your most joyful money memory?
  4. How did your parents handle conflict about money?
  5. Were there secrets about money?
  6. What three things did you learn from your parents about money?
  7. What did you learn about money given your gender?
  8. Were the career expectations for you any different from your siblings, given your gender?
  9. What are you willing to do differently about money now that you are partnered with someone who has a different financial ancestry background?

Attitudes toward financial chores

  1. Who pays the bills and how was this decided?
  2. How do you feel about your financial contributions to your family budget? (This is particularly important if there are large discrepancies in earnings.)
  3. Are your accounts separate or joint? How was this decided?
  4. Do you disagree about financial chores? How do you handle these disagreements?
  5. For whom does the current financial chore arrangement work best? Who struggles with the current financial chore arrangement and how are those struggles handled?
  6. Are there any gender-related expectations regarding the financial chores?

Financial goals

  1. What are your financial goals of the next 5 years?
  2. What is your greatest financial fear?
  3. What are your beliefs about current or future affluence and how do they impact your daily life?
  4. If you are planning on having children, who will be the primary caretaker and how will this impact income?

Sure! These are big conversations to have – but from these moments of honesty on – the two of you will have the raw materials that you need to begin to adapt and compromise. And it works!  Here are some of the “reviews” that my clients have brought back to me after they completed the process of these three guided “money talks”.

“I never knew this about her, now I understand!”

“Our money talks were really helpful. Now we are starting to act like a team.”

“I realized I was unknowingly following my mother’s scripts.”

“I didn’t realize I had those beliefs or where they came from.”

I wish you luck and love in life and I promise, that if you start talking about money with one another from a place of honesty and hope that healing and progress are possible.

Sara Schwarzbaum is not affiliated with LPL Financial and Stonebridge Wealth Advisors LLC
Back to blog index

Thanks! You're in!

Check out all of your Free Resources

Work with me

Wealth Management

While I have created Rich Women Rock to be an online resource for women embarking on their path to financial planning and life of independence, some of you will want to work with me one-on-one. And you can! My Chicago-based independent wealth management firm, Stonebridge Wealth Advisors, LLC helps clients throughout the U.S. pursue their goals of securing their financial future and gaining financial independence.

If you would like to consider becoming a client, please fill out the form here. You will receive a reply within 3-5 business days.