Are you and your spouse arguing about your finances?
Does it seem like your partner just hates the word “budget”?
Does it seem spending habits are out of control?
Does it seem like you guys are behind on your bills?
Is it pretty hard talking about money with your spouse?
Do you find yourself spending money “behind your spouse’s back” or vice versa?
Do you or your partner avoid talking about money for fear of a conflict?
Are you and your spouse/partner just not clicking with your spending and saving habits?
Do you guys avoid setting financial goals?
Do you wonder where your money is going?
Are you guys about to split up because of money issues?

If you have answered “yes” to many of these questions about money, its use, or how you communicate about it, you have a lot in common with a mass amount of couples in this country. Financial conflict is one of the top 2 things couples argue about in their relationships and many struggle and struggle trying to resolve these woes. If you are stuck, at an impasse, and “butting heads” when it comes to money, we are here to help you to resolve your relationship woes. Just to be sure, we are not credit counselors but rather counselors of relationships, communication, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. We address how couples communicate (whether overtly or covertly) about their relationship with each other when it comes to their mutual relationship with money. We have a passion and desire to help you work through this “elephant in the room” that is creating misery, strife, arguments, and mistrust and will assist you to a much better way of discussing your finances with each other. Counseling is a way in which you can learn problem-solving skills, work toward mutually set goals, and find solutions to work together.

Let’s take a look at some things that keep you apart from truly discussing money well and then some questions you may have about counseling and your relationship with money.

What drives us apart when it comes to money?

Differing attitudes about money
Attitudes come from how you were raised, how you perceive money and its use in your life, and its meaning and value to you. It is what you tell yourself about money. Some things may seem subtle yet pretty obvious when it comes to our attitudes about money. In a society that puts emphasis on status with career, clothes, lifestyle, homes, cars, buying our kids whatever they want, and “bling bling”, it’s no wonder couples have a lot of stress and tension with how it is spent. If your attitude is that it is a means to an end or that you can never have enough or that you see yourself with worth due to your financial status, then chances are high that you will not find satisfaction in your relationship with money. When you and your spouse or partner clash over how each of you perceive the use of money and what it does or doesn’t “do” for you, then arguments will find themselves coming out in sarcasm, ugly looks, defiant actions, finding fault, arguments, conflict, mistrust, questioning of your spouse’s judgment of what she/he bought, and so on.

Different upbringing in how finances were handled
As with attitudes with money, our upbringing impacts our view on it. If you were raised in a home where you could have whatever you wanted, were given gifts, toys and all kinds of things, your attitude will more than likely be different then if you were raised in a home where your lights were shut off, you ended up living in shelters, your mom or dad spent money on a drug, alcohol, or gambling habit that left you with little to no food to live on. Or perhaps your family lived paycheck to paycheck but love was ever present and you were satisfied with what you had and the amount of what you had. Or you may have been raised in a rather affluent family where only the finest of things, activities, and lifestyle were the norm in the family. No matter how you were raised, money and how it was handled and talked about had a particular impact on your life.

Needs vs wants
How each of you determines your needs and wants will have an influence over how you will spend, save or invest your money. What your habits are like now can be examined by each of yourselves asking “Do I need this?” “Will I survive without it?” “Will my life be better off with this?” “Will this bring joy?” “Is the risk worth the loss if it doesn’t pay off?” Each of you as a partner has your own values when it comes to determining what you need vs want and if there are any concerns whatsoever about either of your needs or wants. However, when you only have so much to spend, who determines what and how much will the “what” be with the spending of the money? For example, some people believe that having brand new furniture is far more needed than upgrading to new smartphones. Some may believe that healthy food is far more valuable than satellite tv or private education is an absolute necessity vs public education. These comparisons can go on and on in so many different ways. Take a look at what you deem as a need vs a want and how this compares to your partner. Does this stir up tension?

Self-control with money
Many times certain habits are formed over the months or years that may have been based on certain circumstances at the time but more than likely have changed. If there is a lack of self-control or will-power when it comes to spending, this usually becomes a noticeable stressor and arguments about overspending tend to breakout. If you find yourself spending without much thought or spending to find happiness or you just have to have something whether you can “afford” it or not, self-control may be an issue that perpetuates the tension in your relationship.

Save vs spend vs invest goals
As it is with each of your attitudes and upbringings, needs vs wants, and self-control, saving, spending and investing also share in the tension of money in your relationship. For example, suppose you are wanting to upgrade your home or you are wanting a new set of clothes or perhaps new updated furniture and would rather buy them now instead of waiting for them to go on sale at a reduced price or when you have the money for them. Each one of you may have differing opinions on what is an investment and what is not. For example, he may want a bass boat to go fishing and considers it an investment in his relaxation not to mention the fish he’ll plan on bringing home. She may want to get a newer car with higher monthly payments with the idea that there will be less problems with it vs an older, less expensive model. Each of these goals or plans on how you spend or save will impact your relationship with one another. Either of you may also want to invest in the stock market or other such investments for a greater return. Each of these things may seem noble and worthwhile to either of you however your spouse may have other ideas or concerns.

Taking the time to learn how to communicate, then learning how to apply these skills in the discussions about money may greatly improve your overall relationship with each other and help you conquer your fears, failures and attitudes with money.

Questions You May Ask

How can counseling help us with our bills?
The bills will be bills but how you approach them and how you relate to each other when it comes to the bills will greatly affect the managing of your attitude and approach to money. Counseling is here to help you remove the roadblocks that keep you from communicating effectively about how you are managing, spending, saving, and investing your money and work to build your confidence with each other. When you both are working together, setting goals together and communicating effectively together, there will more than likely be clearer understanding, more appreciation, and love in the relationship.

If we can’t afford all our bills now, how are we going to afford counseling?
The same may be asked of your car. If it breaks down and goes to the auto mechanic who tells you that it will cost $592.60 to get it repaired, what will you do? It is a reliable car but needs some repair. Most people will find a way to get it repaired as it’s their mode of transportation to their jobs, to the grocery store, taking the kids to and fro, etc. Some people will just trade it in for another car with more car payments. When it comes to your relationship, what happens when it breaks down? Do you consider going to a counselor to repair the relationship or consider breaking up or divorcing? What will the expense be for a house and an apartment, or travel between two places or the costs of attorneys? The point is when you find value in something, or in this case, your relationship, you will do what it takes get the money needed to work toward making things better between the two of you. You are worth it…both of you!

Are we ever going to figure out how to agree on our finances?
Just like most anything worthwhile in life, it takes a concerted effort and plan to move toward agreement. This is where a counselor, an objective 3rd party comes in. When someone who is not in the middle of the problems or biased in their opinion (such as a friend or family member) sits down with you to sort things out, a clearer picture begins to emerge. When you are willing to do this together with one of our counselors, hope is rekindled, skills are learned, and effort is made toward your satisfaction and well-being in your relationship with one another.

We are here to help. We have the experience in relationships, setting helpful and realistic goals and walking through these difficult areas with our couples. Feel free to send us an email at joel@pathwaystucson.com or give us a call at 520-292-9750.