Tag Archives: money

Arguments over money: “You call me a miser? You spend our money before we even have it!”

"Sandy Bay, Isla de Roatan" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Sandy Bay, Isla de Roatan” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Arguments about money can easily destroy a relationship. However, a relationship can also be destroyed when a couple does not talk about their differing attitudes toward money.

Attitudes about money often reflect deep psychological emotions that have developed as a response to feelings of security or the lack of it while growing up. There is no one right way to handle money. Therefore, couples need to talk about money and how they plan to spend and save it without putting each other on the defensive. The earlier they start talking about their values, the better.

To have an effective conversation about money, both partners need to become aware of their own fears and desires about money and their sought-after security. This is not easy, especially when it comes to determining to what degree their judgments are emotionally based or objectively savvy. They also need to recognize and have empathy for the other person’s point of view.

Couples have to develop a mutual plan, even if the plan ends up being to keep finances completely separate. To make an appropriate plan, couples need to take into account each person’s underlying fears and desires.

Guidelines for talking about money:

1. Communicate effectively, so that you can be honest without being hostile. Talk about your own feelings and values without negative judgment toward your partner.

2. Do not overreact, manipulate, or control your partner into spending or not spending money.

3. Do not exaggerate financial situations to get the other person’s attention. Rather than attacking your partner for their spending habits, state your fears and your desires in a neutral way.

4. Avoid acquiescing to behavior you disagree with in order to keep the peace. Otherwise you will develop underground hostility and resentment.

5. Retain your independence. Avoid becoming too financially dependent on another person, particularly if you’re not on the same page regarding finances. Then you won’t have to live in constant stress.


“I’m afraid that we won’t be able to pay the mortgage and other bills. I dread the possibility of losing our home, which could happen to us if I were to lose my job. I would feel a lot more secure having enough savings in the bank to last at least a year.”

“I know we need to budget, but it means a lot to me to go out once a week with you. It rekindles my feelings of romance and spontaneity. Why don’t we budget a certain amount each week so that we both feel comfortable with a little weekly entertainment and romance?”

“I’m concerned that I will not be able to retire. I would prefer to forego spending money for non-essentials, such as going out to dinner and buying new clothes over living with the fear of never being able to retire. I would like to create a budget that ensures that our savings are increasing each month by (amount or percentage) and to keep our spending in check.”

A couple has to speak candidly and listen to one another’s concerns and desires before they can make a specific plan that will satisfy both partners. Regardless of what you can agree upon, it doesn’t hurt to remain capable of being independent. Nothing in life is certain. Therefore, having some money set aside and being able to get a job and support yourself are key to promoting your psychological and financial security.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

The Limits of Parental Indulgence

"Sergio's Finish" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

“I feel terrible about not being able to buy my kids what their friends have. But I can’t afford to buy them new ipods and shoes right now.”

Your value as a parent lies in what you communicate to your children and the values that you convey, not in what you purchase for them. You are not doing your kids any favors by buying them everything that they want or that their friends have. You are doing them a favor by not doing so and explaining to them why not.

Even when parents can afford things, they are giving more to their kids by NOT teaching them to feel entitled to have everything they want. Learning delayed gratification and planning for the future are valuable gifts that will go a long way in encouraging capability and independence.

Simply say,

“Right now we need to save money for the mortgage, emergencies, retirement, and your college.”


“It’s important to have money put away to ensure that we will survive another potential downturn. Twenty dollars here, a hundred dollars there, add up surprisingly fast.”

It’s all in your attitude that says they’ll be fine without the new merchandise. If you don’t show anxiety about their wanting things or about their being “without,” then they will learn to live more comfortably with desiring things and not having them right away.

You can also suggest to them that they can save up for what they want themselves. If children learn both to wait and to work for what they want, they will end up appreciating the items more, or they will lose interest in acquiring them all together.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

“I want to enjoy life and not just think about money.”

by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

It is a false dichotomy to suggest that a person either enjoys life or thinks about money. It’s true that some people are more the accountant, organizing type, while some are the more romantic, impulsive type. Yet, as counter-intuitive as it seems, the more highly-developed your inner bookkeeper becomes, the more you can truly develop your inner romantic, and vice versa.

The key is to develop both of these parts within yourself—the wise and efficient financial planner and the romantic who knows how to live life to the fullest—and to be able delegate between the two.

Problems generally develop when people identify exclusively with one side or the other.

Visualize the one-sided accountant type with pursed lips and a furrowed brow, who buys a ski lift ticket, and then can’t stop second guessing the purchase and calculating the cost of each ski run rather than enjoying the skiing. The one-sided romantic type, on the other hand, shoves all bills in a drawer and, happy-go-lucky, ignores and forgets them until the day of reckoning. The first cannot enjoy the moment and the second is headed for a financial cliff.

When you build a house, different trades focus on particular specialties—the electrician on lighting, the plumber on plumbing and so on. What is critical is that there is a general contractor to coordinate it all.

Similarly, people need to schedule and coordinate their inner “trades.” By avoiding financial chaos and debt overload, you can create peace of mind to live life without having to fear an impending crisis. Here are some guidelines to find a balance between taking care of the future and enjoying the present:

1. Spend less than you earn. The worry about growing debt rarely is worth the things purchased on credit. Focus instead on all the free things that can create a fulfilling life.

2. Put money into savings first. Savings provide security and allow one the freedom to make transitions in life. For example, with adequate savings, you can handle losing your job or consider changing your job and save for retirement.

3. Pay bills at a scheduled time. If you pay your bills on a scheduled day every week, you take care of your business and alleviate the dread of dealing with bills and accumulated debt.

4. Take care of issues promptly when they’re small. When you can’t pay a bill or a bank statement seems to be wrong, deal with the problem immediately before it turns into an overwhelming predicament. By moving from dread to action, you minimize complications, extra fees, and your own psychological discomfort.

5. Once you’ve dealt with your finances, choose to enjoy life and the people around you. After dealing with bills and the budget, allow your inner accountant to recede into the background, and bring forward other parts of your personality to enjoy the present moment. Purposefully switch modes from being task-oriented, responsible, and bean counting to being in your body, connected to others, and appreciating the world around you.

We can never completely alleviate financial insecurity. Yet by thinking about money, finances and other practicalities at regular intervals, we actually free ourselves from thinking about money all the time, giving ourselves enough serenity from worry to enjoy life more fully.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Avoidance Behavior: ‘I’ve been dreading telling her about our financial problems.’”

Read “Saving money: ‘I want to buy this now!’”

Read “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: ‘Since he lost his job, he doesn’t seem to care about our relationship.’”

Marrying into Money:
“He used to take care of me, and now he treats me like a child.”

"Lindbergh" by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

It may feel good to be taken care of financially, just as it does to be taken care of emotionally or physically. You may feel as though your worries are over. Often, however, the cost of being taken care of financially can be very high. Being treated like a child is only one example and may be just the beginning.

From Caring to Controlling

Often people who insist on taking care of their partner financially fear losing their partner and use control of the finances as a means of control in the relationship. That fear can lead to oppressive behavior sliding down a slippery slope from being protective… to becoming paternal… to becoming patronizing and demanding.

At the beginning, those who take care of their partner in a paternalistic way may overwhelm him or her with luxurious perks. They may appear strong, generous, and confident. Yet, they often feel insecure in terms of being desirable for who they are rather than what they bring to the relationship in terms of money, for example. An unconscious need to be needed can result in a drive to have power over others.

From Secure to Stifled

When invisible strings are attached to the financial blessings bestowed on a loved one, the behavioral polarities of superior/inferior, control/rebellion, and parent/child tend to take over the relationship.

While being taken care of leaves one feeling secure at first, being parented leaves one feeling like a child, which takes away the mutual love and respect required for success in long-term romantic relationships. When a person in the child position matures, he or she will want to express independence, which can be threatening to the provider. Someone who is dependent on another person but feels stuck, soon feels stifled, resentful, and rebellious against the person in control.

Can financial disparity work in romance?

The fact that two people in love who are in vastly different financial positions does not necessarily result in problems. The key is to retain your own individuality and capability of being independent, even if the financially stronger person pays for most or all of the expenses.

Before moving in with someone who will “take care of you” it is wise to put aside enough money that you could move into your own place at any time, whether that means moving in with a close friend or renting a studio for a month or a year — whatever you are comfortable with. It is also wise to always retain your ability to get a paying job.

Being financially and psychologically able to move out and live on your own terms creates the space to be able to be yourself. If you become dependent on someone else’s money, there is an incentive to hide feelings and thoughts in order to please the person you’re dependent upon.

I’m not recommending that people live together with the constant threat of ending the relationship. Yet, when people are incapable of leaving a relationship, emotionally or financially, that’s when they start compromising their belief systems and values in order to maintain the relationship. That’s when the insidious descent into living in fear of losing what you’ve become accustomed to begins.

Throughout life, we are better off enjoying our blessings in the moment without trying to hold on to them for eternity. We can do this best when we are prepared and willing to take care of our own deepest needs. No matter who makes the money, it’s important to stay informed and involved in your joint finances, as well as to have your own independent means.

By maintaining individuality and the ability to be independent within a relationship, you maintain the wholesome tension of opposites, which allows the relationship to become greater than merely the sum of its parts.

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “Five Keys to a Great Relationship: ‘There’s nothing we can do to stay in love.’”

Read “I’m his biggest fan and he treats me like a slave.”

Read “I Can’t Live Without Him/Her” by Guest Author Sam Vaknin, PhD.

“Sure honey, I’ll buy you that toy.”

"Future" — Einstein by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

So what I really meant was…

“If you really want it, you can buy it with your own money/allowance. Why don’t you think about it for a couple of days and see if you still want it.”

by Alison Poulsen, PhD

Read “I feel terrible about not being able to buy my kids what all their friends have.”

No money: “I get really unhappy not to be able to buy clothes when I see all my friends shopping.”

"Paya" by Mimi Stuart
Live the Life you Desire

If asked to make a list of the happiest moments in their lives, most people will say that they are the times they spend with friends and family, enjoying the moment, enjoying nature, admiring a work of art, doing something for someone they love or for someone in need. They also enjoy learning, understanding, and moving their body — walking, dancing, or pursuing a sport.

None of these pursuits require money. The feeling of enjoyment that comes from learning, accomplishing something, or bringing joy to others lasts longer than simply purchasing new clothes.

There’s no denying that buying a new outfit or a new car is pleasurable, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. That pleasure, however, loses its luster very quickly. In fact, that’s why many people buy more clothes and stuff than they really need. They have to keep buying more to repeatedly get that quick fix of enjoyment, despite the fact that it fades so quickly.

Instead of focusing on those quick highs from getting something new, focus your energy on the deeper, more meaningful ways to experience happiness, and your longing to seek the short-lived gratification of purchasing more stuff will diminish.

by Alison Poulsen, Phd

Read “I’m embarrassed that I can’t afford to go out.”