Family finances are one of the top reasons married couples get a divorce. I think as soon as money becomes an issue steps need to be taken to stop fighting over the family finances. To help understand what type of impact fighting over family finances can have on a marriage and how a married couple can stop fighting over family finances, I have interviewed psychotherapist Steve Sisgold.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I hold an M.A. in Marketing, a B.S. in Business, and Certifications in body-centered Psychotherapy and Relationship Counseling. I wrote a book through Random House titled Richer Than You Dreamed about couples and money. I actually owned a cash management firm where we focused on families and how they communicate and strategize around their finances. My new book, What’s Your Body Telling You? from McGraw-Hill , launched at number 7 on the S.F Chronicle Bestseller List and # 1 on Amazon.com in several categories.”
What type of impact can fighting over family finances have on a marriage?
“My work with couples over the years has convinced me that any two people can connect on any combination of levels. Let’s face it: some people form relationships in which the mojo works on all fronts while other pairs have it going on in some areas but not others. Couples that connect on all levels not only share common values, interests and goals, they are also intellectually compatible, emotionally suited to one another in terms of basic temperament, and physically connected with zingy chemistry. On the other hand, some couples have a fantastic intellectual connection that flows easily, but they are physically disconnected and show little affection toward each other. Some have a strong spiritual connection but no sexual chemistry. What I have found to be the number one stressor, even more than sexuality is fighting over money and the different behaviors couples have about finances. It creates mis-trust, competition, blame and even hiding and spending money secretly. Fighting over finances creates a wall between couples, which hinders intimacy and can even create confusion for their children who see the battle and carry money stress into their future relationships.”
What can a couple do to stop fighting over family finances?
“The goal bridges the gaps that exist around the differences in finances, with awareness rather than resentment. What if we could tell the truth about that instead of hurting each other with it? One of the many pitfalls I’ve watched couples fall into is a tendency to propagate negative spin thoughts such as: “he doesn’t meet me on a financial level,” or, “she isn’t as concerned about our finances as I am.” In relationships, whole story lines can be spun around financial sore-spots, or agreement structures from “you never cared about our finances to “I know you’re not concerned about our retirement security” Of course, some stories have truth to them, and yet dysfunctional relating is all but guaranteed when truthfulness and trust are not in place as foundation stones in a relationship.”
“We all tend to create stories in our heads that are full of assumptions about our partner’s feelings and behavior. These stories often have little to do with reality and usually make us very sad, angry and/or scared. We then react to these unhappy stories with a “fight or flight” response and either attack, blame, or pull away. This leads to an escalation of problems instead of resolution. Even the healthiest of loving relationship hits rough spots on occasion. What makes for a healthy relationship is not the absence of challenges, but two people who have the needed skills to resolve conflicts about finances and work through differences that naturally arise. It can be infuriating to discover that the person you feel the closest to in the world is so different in so many ways. Partners in a healthy relationship come to appreciate differences rather resist them or refuse to accept the other for who they are.”
What type of professional help is available for a couple who continues to struggle and fight over family finances?
“Absolutely get counseling so the steam of the arguments can be taken out of the conversation. Also, get help on getting back to what goals you two have around your future, spending, retirement etc. Professional like me who has a financial and counseling background is ideal.”
What last advice would you like to give to a couple that wants to stop fighting over family finances?
“Communicate. Silence is Not always Golden
This will help you discover what areas in your body/mind get triggered around money and the emotions that get stirred up about finances.”
“If your partner would rather walk on hot coals than do a communication exercise, or speak about it, then explore what is self-evident for you about money and see what you can do first to improve the situation. Recognize the story-making you are doing and what assumptions you have, and, where needed, reframe the stories you tell about each other about your finances.”
Thank you Steve for the interview on how to stop fighting over family finances. For more information on Steve Sisgold you can check out his website on www.SteveSisgold.com.
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