Have you ever thought about the way you relate to money? If you are struggling to get a grip on finances, it might be worth it to take a look at your relationship with money. In this week’s blog I wanted to combine my two favorite resources on money management and relationships in order to take actionable steps toward improving your financial health. This blog reviews the wisdom of the Gottman Method for healing romantic relationships as a framework to heal our relationship with money.
Build Love Maps Between Money and Ourselves
When we think about the foundation of behavior change, we always start with observation. The Gottman Institute uses a series of assessments for understanding our romantic partner’s internal world. They call this “Building Love Maps”. This includes things like a 2 hour assessment exploring feelings and desires each partner has for the other. But how does this relate to money? Well, as Kate Northrup, author of Money a Love a Story explains, if we first just begin by observing our relationship to money and our money patterns, magical things start to happen.
For example, one of Kate’s first exercises in the book begins with just committing to looking at your bank account on a regular basis. That’s right, you don’t even have to physically change your spending habits to see a change in your behavior. Just observe.
Some steps to better understand your relationship with money can include:
- Begin reading resources on money management and financial literacy
- Talk to others about managing money
- Join a local financial planning group (public libraries often have these)
- Commit to looking at your bank statement weekly
- Make a list of some problems you see in your relationship with money
Respect Your Money
The second stage of relationship healing in the Gottman Method is a phase called Share Fondness and Admiration. In this stage, Gottman emphasizes one key foundation of any healthy relationship – respect. In this stage, we begin to focus on all the ways we honor, cherish and respect our partner. How much are your behaviors lining up with respect for your money? Are there patterns of abuse and neglect?
We can begin respecting our money by following some of the strategies below:
- Develop a savings plan, no matter how small your income.
- Limit spending on unnecessary things.
- Change your vocabulary around money. Watch for phrases like “I never have enough” and “I can’t afford that”. Try reframing these to “I am always provided for” and “I choose not to spend my money that way.”
Allow Money To Support You
Over and over you hear financial gurus explain the one difference between the rich and poor. In an article by Rich Dad-Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki reminds us again that the most important difference is in the way individuals spend. Poor people buy random things. Rich people purchase investments. The difference here becomes acquiring a bunch of worthless stuff versus putting your money in a place where it will begin to work for you. That’s right. Wealthy individuals purchase investments over material goods that will depreciate over time.
Maintain a Positive Perspective and Manage Conflict
Healthy romantic relationships are based off two partners having a positive outlook toward problem solving. Our relationship with money requires the same. When financial challenges arise, it’s one’s ability to remain calm and solution-focused that allows them to weather the storm. We may not always have the information to solve our financial problems, but the person with the positive perspective has confidence in their ability to seek out individuals and resources that will support them.
Someone with a positive perspective is good at:
- Advocating for their needs
- Negotiating with others
- Being persistent
Focus on Your Financial Dreams
Another level in the Gottman Method of relationship success is the ability to share our hopes and dreams with our partner. Because our relationship with money is really a reflection of the relationship we have with ourselves, it’s important to honor the dreams we have for our financial future. We can do this through things like journaling, lists and goal setting, vision boards and my personal favorite, hypnosis focusing on our “future wealthy self”.
Cultivate Trust In Your Financial Decisions
Being able to trust ourselves and our relationships are a large part of the therapy process. When it comes to money, we often feel fearful and untrusting of our own financial decisions. This can be because of a number or reasons ranging from lack of financial literacy to general anxiety in our day to day lives. When we begin to cultivate trust in our decisions, we find that we start to make better investments. We make deals with people we can trust and we begin to trust ourselves to use restraint in our spending habits.
Cultivating a Sense of Commitment
Your relationship with money is a lifelong commitment. For better or worse, you are in it until the end. Committing yourself to the process of cultivating a healthy relationship with money requires patience with yourself. Possibly you came from a family that struggled to understand money. Maybe you are working to overcome the feelings associated with privilege. Whichever side of the spectrum you fall on, developing compassion and patience for yourself is key to participating in your financial life in a healthy way.
Want to learn more about the use of hypnosis to repair your financial relationship?