The Value of Money Part 2
Your Money, Your Relationship, Part 2
Amanda Kirk, MS
Money is about way more than numbers and math. How we handle it says something about who we believe ourselves to be or want to be – or want to be perceived – and what we value. You’ve probably heard it said before, “let me see your bank statement and I’ll tell you what’s most important to you”. In other words, we tend to spend money according to our priorities.
The last time we were together (LINK TO PREVIOUS ARTICLE), we imagined what it could feel like to be in a financial situation that felt calm and in control. Now, let’s continue by highlighting some of the ways being in control of your finances can actually bring you and your partner closer together.
What Do I Value Most?
In order to lay a healthy foundation with our finances, we need to get really clear on what our values are. When we know what our priorities are, we can filter financial decisions in a way that reflects those values, rather than haphazardly sending money in whatever direction demands it first.
Having food in our bellies and a roof over our heads are pretty high priorities, so not much will go ahead of them in the pecking order of assigning money to them. But then, after we’ve taken care of the essentials, what about the less obvious things?
Maybe for you, time with family is a high priority. So, while you may balk at your partner’s desire to spend money on his hobby, you don’t blink an eye at what it will cost to travel to visit your loved one. Maybe after a stressful day of work and responsibilities, you want to hit the gym or go fishing. But your partner’s preference to get a massage or visit the spa seems like an excessive waste of money to you.
The reality is, as long as it’s not financially unwise to spend money on one of these areas in your particular situation, none of them are “wrong” or even better or worse than the other. They simply offer insight into something about what you value.
When you understand what you value, it helps you shift expenses around in order of priority and make more strategic choices with where your money goes. When you understand what your partner values, it helps you understand them better. Now you can work together to ensure that what each one values has a place in your budget while allowing lesser things to either be eliminated or take up less of the bottom line.
So even in deciding how we spend our money together, we learn important things about each other and can actually strengthen our bond and commitment to loving each other well.
Can I Trust You?
Understandably, the issue of our finances can be one to elicit all kinds of negative emotions. That’s because so much of the tangible stability we experience is directly tied to whether we can provide, i.e. pay for, the things required to uphold a secure environment, like shelter, food, clothing. On a fundamental level, we crave a sense of security to know, at minimum, that our basic needs are being met.
As functioning adults, we are ultimately responsible for ensuring our needs are met. When we partner with another adult, we tend to expect they will also contribute to meeting those needs for us, as we will be for them. So now, on an instinctual level that we often don’t even recognize, we begin monitoring how trustworthy our partner is in contributing to our own sense of stability in the world.
Is it any wonder then, that how they spend their – and our – money can be the topic of so many of our disagreements?
Let me be clear here – this is not necessarily about whether both partners are bringing in a sufficient paycheck each month. In some households, there is an agreement that only one will provide for the family financially, such as is the case for one stay-at-home parent or a partner with extended illness or disability.
However, each plays a role in how the finances are handled. If one is a spender and the other a saver, the saver’s radar will be on red alert if he does not trust the spender to be wise with how the money is spent. Likewise, the spender may feel overwhelmed with limits and avoid telling him about purchases made. Trust will be compromised, and the quality of the relationship will suffer.
Because our basic survival instincts can be so closely tied to our relationship with money, our ability to sense we can trust our partner financially will inevitably impact how closely we can connect to them in other ways.
If I can trust you with one of the necessary components of my sense of stability and safety – our finances – I am much more likely to risk vulnerability, sacrificial love, and wholehearted commitment to you and our lives together.
Come back next time and we’ll dive a little more into how to practically put a budget together in a way that is profitable for both your money and your relationship.