Money worries are the biggest cause of divorce and separation in the UK. The quality of our relationships – with ourselves, our partners and others – is determined by us. By how we think and behave and the decisions we make. So we have to first look inwards.
How we do money, is how we do life.
Before we know it, the rot has set in, patterns of behaviour have become habit and problems just fester, seep out into the open through resentments, arguments, lies, disputes and even domestic abuse. Often, it is an actual event such as an inability to pay a bill, meet a payment on a loan, something which triggers a stressful reaction that spills into conflict.
The impact of money issues can lead to things like, secrets, shame, suffering anxiety alone, becoming distant, blaming the other, projecting responsibility on to the other, resentment.
And of course, the direct or knock on effects these can have on our children, family, community and at work. Everyone, in some way can be impacted. The money issue becomes the elephant in the room, the root cause of all that is not well in our relationships with others and ourselves, even if we are not the primary cause of a money problem.
You are not alone
Sadly, the negative impact of money in relationships is huge and commonplace. With the aftermath of COVID 19 is the potential for even more problems so now is a perfect time to do something about it.
Relationship with ourselves
Even if the money issue is only with you personally the only effective way forward is to deal with ourselves. We are the solution.
Relationships with others – Partners and children?
If we feel the problem is with our partner, how do we talk to them about money? How do we broach the subject, especially if they are reluctant?
Ownership and Responsibility
If you are experiencing issues in your relationship with yourself or your partner or both then it is vital to admit this; even for yourself by just acknowledging this.
What is a good first step?
Write down your thoughts, fears, and feelings around this. Think of it as a Brain Dump or throwing up stuff that is not helping you. Just bring it all to the surface. Give voice to it.
It can bring immense clarity and insight for you and about your partner. It can bring immense relief and, can also signpost ideas to take steps towards solutions.
A problem shared is a problem halved
Starting up a conversation on what you appreciate about each other, focusing on each other’s strengths is a good beginning. Doing this can make it easier for your partner to see their part in the situation and join you in resolving the situation.
If it is not immediately feasible to talk directly with your partner is there someone you know whom you can talk with? Unpack your feelings and thoughts just to get some clarity and perspective so you can go to the next stage?
Essential qualities if you want to succeed
Being open and honest, trying not to blame, understanding that everyone is different, and some are better than others at managing finances, listening without judgement, compassion, and empathy. This applies to yourself as well as your partner.
Easier said than done
It is easier for us to tell others what to do or give advice than it is to do it ourselves.
This is partly because we can be our own worst enemies; trapped in our echo chambers, listening to our own stories and excuses or reasons not to do something about the problem.
What is one small baby step you could take that would help?
- Find a way to talk with your partner and share with them your situation?
- Talk with a friend or third party so you can create a plan of action?
- Consider talking with a Financial Coach to explore this for yourself?
- Invite your partner to join in this project.
- Talk with one of the charities that specialise in money solutions advice?
What price do you want to pay?
Which price is the most expensive – admitting the problem and doing something about it or leaving it until the relationship/ situation is beyond repair?
Sometimes the pain of the situation is greater than the pain of doing something about it. In relationships with others this can be too late.
The good news
It’s never too late. Find support and don’t forget to work on yourself first. While we can’t change others, we can change ourselves and lead by example.
Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) – formerly Money Advice Service (MAS)
John Kenny-Levick is a Money Coach at Money Flow Mastery and a guest contributor for the IFW