“Finding Your Moneymoon”- Helping Couples Find Their ‘Happily-Ever-After’ in Money Matters

When a couple decides to get married there is usually a great deal of planning involved in the wedding arrangements. Both partners dream about the perfect day, their guests, the venue, the honeymoon destination and what their lives will look like after the event is over. With such happiness and elation, it is difficult to imagine that the happiness may fade after the “dust settles”. When the wedding is over, and life together begins, most couples believe that their lives will automatically fall into place. Neglecting to plan for the emotional and financial investment of marriage could lead to unforeseen challenges. When the expectations regarding finances are not clearly communicated, each partner may have different views regarding how money should be allocated which could potentially lead to conflict and strife in the relationship.

Let’s take a look at Cassie and Mike:

Cassie and Mike (names were factiously changed to protect the identity of the client) came into my office for consultation citing marital discord. Cassie expressed concerns because her husband suddenly stopped taking to her. She was especially concerned because Mike had spent the night out for the first time after three years of marriage. She could not understand what went wrong and she felt that their marriage was falling apart because of his lack of respect for their union. Mike agreed to come to the session and stated that he was frustrated about finances and his wife’s spending habits. This was the first time that the couple ever spoke about the state of their financial affairs.

Being open about money matters and your spending habits in a relationship requires three key principles that are necessary in every relationship:

  • Intimacy
  • Vulnerability
  • Communication

Many couples may share a close relationship yet neglect to communicate about the status of their finances or spending habits. This case illustrates that couples can come into therapy thinking that their problem is lack of respect, or money, but the real underlying issue is communication. Society tends to believe that the number one problem that exists for couples is money, but in actuality it is communication. Fights about money generally manifests as a symptom of poor communication.

I help couples communicate about their finances by asking direct solution-focused questions. One main question that I ask is: On a scale of 1-10 how often do you discuss your finances together? (1-being never and 10 being-quite frequently)

This opens up a dialogue about money and creates a safe space for the couple to express their current fears, hopes, and dreams for the future. It also helps to create a shift in the couple’s view of their problems.

I explore each partner’s personal relationship with money which tends to create a collaborative approach to the problem. Each person has their own personal relationship with money and I help the couple explore where their beliefs about money may come from. By normalizing some of their ‘blind spots’ each partner is now free to create a new relationship with money through a few simple tasks provided in each session.

  • Everyone has their own personal relationship with money- Each partner is encouraged to examine their spending habits (journaling, exercising restraint in spending “money fast”, check accounts daily) See where your money is being spent. Some couples are surprised after they complete this task. 30 days of self-examination provides a wealth of information regarding what you are spending on as well as whether you spend on what you ‘need’ versus what you ‘want’. What are your views, who shaped them?
  • Couples are tasked to create a common vision
  • Set goals- Do you want to be debt free? Own a Home? Create a financial roadmap!
  • Plan for tomorrow! It is not if an emergency will occur it is about Being prepared for future emergencies will help you to successfully navigate those stressful moments that could really make or break your relationship.

These simple, yet concrete steps create a path to communication and can ultimately reduce conflict in the relationship for years to come. I teach couples how to have these solution-focused conversations on their own which creates a sense of empowerment. Facing finances could be fearful but does not have to be, with help and support every couple could find their ‘Moneymoon’.

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