The perfect cure to fighting about money
Money – it causes more stress, more arguments and more sleepless nights than any other problem or concern. It wakes you up at 2am and you toss and turn and worry about bills.
The tension that the lack of money creates on marriages and relationships is often terminal, and the all-encompassing and overwhelming worry from lack of money can be quite paralysing. It can stop you from moving forward with even the simplest of tasks. It makes it difficult to communicate, stifling relationships, making you snap at the kids for little reasons, makes it hard to work effectively and is said to be one of the highest causes of depression.
What most people don’t realise is men and women handle money stress quite differently. This is why we fight.
Brène Brown wrote a brilliant book about this – Men, Women and Worthiness. In it she explains that women, when under stress about money go ‘into’ themselves, an ‘I’m not good enough’ downward spiral. They often take the blame, their negative story starts to grow, ‘if I was better at managing money’, ‘I must not be clever enough’ ‘other people can do this better’.
Men on the other hand often feel shame, although this is a strong word and they often don’t recognise it as such. Men have been raised differently to women, they need to ‘tough it out’. They are called weak if they show softer emotions and they aren’t supposed to cry, for example. The tough guy vs. weak guy syndrome is alive and well in our society. Men are made to feel they are supposed to be the strong one, ‘the provider’. They try to have a bravado and strong self-image, they don’t want to be the guy who gets shoved up against the wall, or have sand kicked in their face – remember the old muscle building ads of the 50’s and 60’s?
When there isn’t enough money men feel personal failure and shame. There are two switches, or reactions that are common when a man feels shame – pissed off or shut down. They either get very angry and have a lot to say or they shut down and don’t want to discuss it at all. They might leave, slamming the door behind them. One of the covers for shame when they choose the pissed off method is anger and yelling, the other is blame. (Sound familiar?)
Men and women look at and deal with lack of money differently, and that is why we fight. Once we work out how our partner is dealing with it, it is easier to manage the situation and start to defuse the tension. It’s not easy – but it is worth it – and is often the only solution.
Firstly – there is a difference between shame and guilt. Shame isn’t healthy, it is a destroyer of confidence, guilt is a much better and healthier emotion and also easier to deal with.
Shame is ‘I’ am wrong – I have failed, therefore ‘I’ am unworthy.
Guilt is I have ‘done’ something wrong – therefore it is not a focus on WHO we are, but on what we DID.
(In extreme cases – Shame can lead to suicide, whereas Guilt usually doesn’t)
Advice for the ladies.
The usual reaction for men when faced with money tension is shame and they try to cover it with anger and rage or blame. The easiest way to deal with this is not to push back and add to the blame and shame, but to be understanding and calming – explaining it isn’t THEM, but the situation that is needing work. They need to understand that they are doing a great job, you are in this together and that you are there to support and help get both of you through this.
Advice for the guys.
The lady of your life will be feeling like she isn’t enough. She is surrounded by a world that looks like everyone else is perfect and has the perfect life and she is the only one failing. Glossy magazines could be giving her a complex about her body image, ‘fake’ book shows her a totally false view of her friends ‘perfect’ lives, she has so much false information fed to her daily to make her feel inferior and a failure – lack of money just confirms it. You need to counter this by building her up and reassuring her she is ‘enough’, she is doing a great job at being a (…insert the right things here…) Mum, Wife, working professional etc. Show your appreciation and love for her. This is just a THING, and you will work together to get through this tough time together.
The blame game doesn’t help. Arguing or fighting doesn’t help. Remember you are both under stress. Stop – draw a line in the sand and work together to help find solutions. You can’t change the past so there is no point in keeping on dragging it up, and guess what, one of you has to be the one to start! I call this mirroring. If you push, they will push back. So be the first one to stop pushing. That can be really hard. If you are kind, gentle and understanding eventually they will mirror this too. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen, so keep smiling, keep trying.
Look for a solution, make a nice suggestion.
If or when your partner reacts badly or sends a verbal ‘barb’, don’t react and retaliate. Say something calming or say nothing. Saying something like ‘I can understand why you feel that way… however I was thinking we could try this…’ and try to not react but stay on the path of the solution.
Another good tip to stopping tension is … If you are wrong – admit it, if you are right – shut up.
Hopefully this will help with beginning the process of de-fusing money stress.
Fixing the problem of lack of money is the obvious answer. Getting control over your finances by getting a money plan. Sounds brilliant right? But when you are in the depth of despair about money – that looks impossible.
Time to ask a Money Coach to run their eye over things and see if there are some solutions that you may not have thought of. Can’t hurt to try, Right?
The progress from money pain to money management and then wealth creation and a healthy financial future can sometimes be quite simple. The problem is we often ask the wrong people for advice.
Take a positive step, call and have a chat today.