Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Seth Meyers, Clinical Psychologist

Thursday, April 1, 2010


What Does Money Mean to You?

Money is the #1 reason that marriage ends in divorce. Clearly, the topic of finance is fraught with emotion, but why? Part of the reason may be because whether you are Oprah or an unemployed magician, money plays a vital role in your life. We constantly have to interact with money—it is unavoidable.

Money is loaded with symbolism. It can signify security, self-worth, ownership, or freedom among many possible meanings. We learn attitudes about money in our childhood and carry them into our adult partnerships. How did your parents deal with it? Was one person a saver while the other was more of a spender? Did you grow up listening to your parents argue about finances? It behooves us to reflect on our attitudes about money and how these play out in our lives.

During childhood we learn the difference between a necessity and a luxury. Since everyone’s upbringing is different, romantic partnerships can challenge these long-held beliefs. But what if you feel that going out to a weekly movie is a necessity, but your partner views it as a luxury? It is important, although sometimes very difficult, to attempt to see the issue from your partner’s perspective. Discussing the issue will ideally lead to some sort of compromise.

Compromising is sometimes easier said than done. It doesn’t mean that one partner gives in to the other. It means that the couple together works out a solution that is acceptable to both parties. You don’t want the solution to satisfy one person while the other stews with unmet needs and resentment. Couples need to discuss money and financial issues and not simply assume that general compatibility always translates into financial compatibility.

Discussing money can be a taboo—even between intimate partners. It is important for couples to break the silence and frankly discuss—not only the concrete nuts and bolts of finances—but also the associated feelings. You may want more money, but beyond that, what does it really mean to you? Sharing your feelings and learning to compromise on financial matters can forge intimacy and understanding that will ultimately permeate other aspects of your relationship.

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