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Dealing with Financial Problems in Marriage

Money Issues, Finances & Differences in Relationships

By Susie and Otto Collins, Relationship Coaches
There's no question about it...
Differences over money and finances are some of the biggest issues that challenge couples and tear them apart. 
In relationships, the question always becomes how to look at these challenges as unique opportunities to heal and move toward deeper connection rather than to disconnection and separation.
So why does money drive a wedge between two people who are committed to loving one another and in many cases have an
otherwise great relationship?
Here are a few reasons why...
1. Different backgrounds, values and beliefs
We all come from different backgrounds and carry different values and belief systems from our birth families and life
experiences. Sometimes we don't even know why we carry these values and beliefs but they still have a very deep hold on us. We just know that they are "right" and can react unconsciously when someone goes against these values and beliefs.
2. "Spender and Saver" Combination
If there's one scenario we've seen over and over, it's the "spender/saver" love combo. One person likes to spend money ("You can't take it with you" attitude) while the other person feels more secure saving money with a "Just in case..." approach to life. There's usually great love and/or
friendship between them but this difference usually is difficult to deal with.
3. Never taught about money
Most people aren't taught how to deal with issues that arise over money and finances with a partner who may look at life
differently.  They try to use their parent's model-and that model may not work with the person they chose to share their life with.
4. Two people/different goals for their financial lives
One person's concern may be paying for a child's college education while the other person may want to save for a vacation home or spend whatever money is earned right now.
So, how do you deal with these differences and even create a deeper connection with a partner when you have them?
Here are some tips...
1. Look at your history, beliefs, and values about money and finances. Ask yourself who was your role model for your beliefs about money and then question if these beliefs still serve you.
Susie's parents lived during the depression and saving money was an important part of their lives.  So Susie likes the security of having a financial cushion to fall back on-and lots of money in the bank. 

To Otto, saving money doesn't have the importance that it does to Susie.  We've discovered that we were both out of balance and needed to come to the center on this issue.

2. Decide in advance how you are going to handle the finances. Early in our relationship, we decided to share equally the household expenses but not combine our personal finances.
It has been important to us to feel like equal partners and this was one way that we could do it. This may not work in your circumstance. 

All we are saying is to consciously decide about how you are going to deal with finances before you get married, move in together or make any kind of long-term commitment to each other.
3. Talk about what each of you values in the area of finances. What are your short-term and long-term goals? 

Talk about them with your partner.  It's only after you know what's important to you and your partner that can you create and keep a deep connection with each other.
4. When misunderstandings come up, listen to your partner and try to understand the frame of reference he/she is coming from. Be open to taking a look underneath at what you both think is the problem-because more than likely it goes much deeper than what it appears.

When you listen to each other and share with an open heart, you might uncover and clear up some misconceptions and assumptions about intentions behind your actions or words.
Years ago when we were discussing business finances, Otto felt tight and restricted when Susie used the word "budget." His frame of reference from 20 years in sales was that "budgets" were imposed from some outside authority and meant restriction.
Susie's frame of reference came from managing a library and she dealt with budgets every day. She didn't feel triggered by the word "budget"--it was just a business tool--but she was triggered by Otto's reaction.
It was only until after each of us understood the other's frame of reference for this word that we could make sense out of what was going on between us and choose to connect with each other instead of stay disconnected.

We were also able to discover some deeper fears that this "money" issue uncovered.
In your relationships, whether you're talking about money or anything else, It's important to understand and respect your partner's needs, desires, frame of reference and values, as well as your own.
When you're trying to work through money issues (or anything else) one of the big keys is "staying open" personally and emotionally to your friend, partner or beloved. 
Another key is to chose to love the other person anyway-- even if they are different from you and look at different issues in ways you don't.


Susie and Otto Collins are Relationship Coaches and authors who help people create lives that are filled with more passion, love and connection. For more tips on turning up the heat in your love relationship, sign up for their free mini-course at


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Contact Info
Relationship Coaches Susie and Otto Collins, PO Box 14544, Columbus, OH 43214
Contact Susie or Otto about Relationship Coaching by calling (614) 568-8282.
For all other inquiries, contact us by email.

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