Depending on which study you read and what statistic you want to quote, money is
somehow the cause of millions of break ups and divorces each year. The conversation is so often about who makes more and who spends or squanders more, that we rarely get to the root of the issue. I believe the reality is that money, in and of itself, is harmless. What couples need to begin discussing is the value they associate with money or lack thereof.
We shouldn’t be seeking to understand our significant others money values two years after the “I do.” either. This is a talk we should have soon after deciding that the relationship might be something serious and worth pursuing for the long term. Financial wealth coach and my Main Street Radio co-host, Clyde Anderson, suggests having a “credit date” two or three months into the relationship so that everyone can “show the money” and credit reports and get real about what the individual values are and potential of the relationship really is.
So whether you end up having that credit conversation or debt date this Valentine’s season or hold off a little while, here are few questions to ask your boo.
1. “How did your parents handle money?”
We all have a financial blueprint; the way we specifically interact with our money. For most of us, our financial blueprint was handed down to us by our parents – not like DNA, but definitely through witnessing and experiencing their attitudes, habits, triumphs and failures. Talk to each other about what you heard about money and what types of behaviors you saw regarding money and financial matters. Once you can understand the environment a person grew up in or the way their parents or other influential people in their life handled money, it’s much less frustrating to understand a person’s money style.
2. “What does money really mean to you?”
When it comes to our relationships, money is NOT the issue that many seem to believe it is. The issue is again what the money represents to two different individuals because nothing has meaning accept for the meaning we all assign to it.
Money represents different things to different people. Money and material items might equate to love and affection for some. For others, it could represent the difference between control and dependency or safety and stability. Think about a person who was brought up in a family, where her mother stayed in an abusive relationship only because she had no access to the finances. Fast forward to her marrying a man who grew up in a home where his father handled finances and his mother happily allowed him to and appreciated her husband for it. See an issue on the horizon? This husband will assume he should take care of all the finances, feel that its unnecessary to involve his new wife and she might feel like it’s a tactic to keep her dependent. Complete conflict although they love each other and actually mean well deep down.
3. “Despite our differences, how can we create and commit to shared financial goals?”
If you’re not going to break up over the fact that you’re a spender and he’s a saver, then it’s time to figure out what goals are most important to you, individually and as a couple. If it’s too early in the relationship to be considering larger goals like purchasing a home together, then create individual goals and hold each other accountable. Now that you know each other’s financial strengths and weaknesses, don’t use them as tools to judge one another. Rather, use it as a way to empower each other to be better, do better and achieve more. After all, relationships, romantic or otherwise, should always leave you better than they found you. . . hopefully!
Sound off! Tell us what money means to you. Join our LIVE Twitter Chat with Black Enterprise, Thursday, February 14th, 1-2p! Use the hashtag #loveandmoney. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!
Patrice C. Washington, The Wisdom & Wealth Money Maven, is founder of the Mindset & Money Master Class®, the proven step-by-step program that shows you exactly how to create the mindset and skillset necessary to achieve financial success.
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