Have The Talk

It represents power in the world. If you have it, you want more and if you don’t have it, you want more. It can get you in to places and positions you want and it can get you out of places and positions you don’t want. Some people give it away and some keep it stashed away. For most, talking about it is taboo and we are seen as rude or conceited when we do.

I’m talking about money. In marriage, money is one of the three most often discussed topics. Frequently, those conversations are difficult because it can be almost impossible to be rational about money. It is not just about debits and credits. Currency is undeniably connected to our deepest fears, our desires for security in short, our hopes and dreams.

Our earliest relationship with money is developed within our families as we grow up. Which of your parents made the money and who decided how it would be spent? Did you grow up with the security of having enough money? Or, were your parents worried about how they would make ends meet every month? We all received overt and covert messages about money that we bring into adulthood and eventually into our relationships.

I have been seeing a lot of couples in my office with a money issue called financial infidelity. That’s when one partner lies to the other about money. Now, I know you probably are asking yourself, “Do I have to tell him about that new pair of shoes - they were on sale?” Or, “I never go out to lunch with the guys, it’s no big deal we went to that expensive place down the street instead of the reasonably priced one around the corner I told her we went to.” And, yes, that is financial infidelity. Anytime you lie to your partner about money you are not being fiscally faithful.

Financial infidelity can be as devastating to a couple as an extramarital affair. Whichever partner is cheating with the money has more power and control in the relationship whether the other partner is aware of it or not. And many couples don’t talk about the problems until it’s too late.

If you don’t talk about money with each other it most likely will cause a financial fracture that can tear your relationship apart. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Money actually can be a catalyst for intimacy with your partner. Sharing your hopes and dreams and visions for the future and making them come true together is a powerful aphrodisiac.

One of the first hurdles to overcoming financial infidelity is to stop lying to yourself about your spending habits. What are your fiscal values and what are your partner’s? Be accountable to each other whether you have joint or separate checking and savings accounts. Talk, talk, talk about money with your partner. And, if you need to, seek the help of a financial counselor and psychotherapist.