Money is definitely a theme in the music world just as it is in the world of relationships. That’s probably because money is a big driver of emotions and decisions in relationships. It’s rich territory for writing songs that people can connect with from their own experiences and lives. In fact, bands have produced songs on a wide range of reflections, realizations, and advice dealing with money issues.
According to the Beattles, money “Can’t Buy Me Love“. On the other hand, The Bare Naked Ladies wishfully croon “If I had a $1,000,000“. Pink Floyd advises in “Money” that “Get a good job with good pay and you’re okay” and “Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash”. However, they definitely have clear boundaries with “I’m all right Jack keep your hands off of my stack.” Finally, Abba laments in “Money, Money, Money” that “I work all night, I work all day, to pay the bills I have to pay. Ain’t it sad. And still there never seems to be a single penny left for me. That’s too bad.” In fact, there’s even a list of the top 100 songs about money!
Money Stress Tops the List for Couples
Indeed, the music world reflects a wide range of topics and emotions about money! Accordingly, it parallels the wide range of topics and emotions about money for couples and people in relationship. Money can be the enabler to many wonderful and enriching experiences and memories. Unfortunately, too often money can be the source of great stress and negative feelings in relationships as well.
Financial opportunities for relationship distress abound from overall income levels, spending habits, job loss, emergency events, different opinions on goals, caring for kids or even parents, and so much more. In fact, according to a 2018 survey by Ally Financial, money causes the most stress for couples. The survey cites that “more than one third of Americans who are married or in a serious relationship report money causes the most stress in their relationship”. That beats out other stress builders like health and family!
Four Steps to a Healthier Relationship with Money
Is there a way to proactively take steps towards a healthier money relationship in your relationship? Yes. Does it sometimes take work and focus? Yes. Will it always be fun? No. Can it build a better and deeper relationship? Yes.
It takes two to tango and it takes a couple together to discuss their financial matters. As a foundation, open, honest, and healthy communication is important to really understanding each other’s perspectives. Knowing the why behind the other person’s perspectives opens the door to jointly deciding on the best course of action for daily financial matters to long term financial goals.
Having that conversation might bring up some tough moments on the current realities, different habits and behaviors, or wide differences in long term goals. Granted, it may “feel” good in the short run not to have this conversation. Yet in the long run it’s important to tackle these moments head on versus letting them fester and negatively impact the overall relationship.
Your finances can run your life or you can run your finances. As a starting point, take charge of understanding where things stand today so you can make grounded and more intentional decisions. That means engaging in activities like tracking your spending, then building a budget together. As a result, you both can decide how to best put your hard earned money to work for your values and goals.
If you haven’t already, build an emergency fund. I write about building an emergency fund and share this fact. A government report that finds that 40% of Americans, if faced with an unexpected expense of $400, would have to borrow money, sell something, or simply not be able to cover that money. Just having a $1000 emergency fund puts you well ahead of most Americans. More importantly, it eases and cushions the stress from the unexpected moments in life.
Continuing education into your current career, new career directions, household finances, investing, health and well being is time well spent. Putting effort into this helps you grow yourself for new life directions, sharpen skills in current activities, open new career opportunities, and make more informed decisions on daily financial choices. Importantly, you can bring fresh ideas to the table with your “other half” on how others are handling their financial paths and where you might adjust your own approaches.
Sometimes growing yourself might include reaching out to others who are specialists in your growth area. Working together they can facilitate insights quicker and easier and see things from a different view point, which can pay dividends to moving yourself through your stressful situation.
If as the saying goes “what you appreciate, appreciates”, then start appreciating what you value! Too often over time once shiny objects lose their glitter and become part of every day existence. That special item in your house, the fulfilling job with a nice paycheck, the getaway weekend, the pet who greets you at the door, the regular gathering of old friends, and that nice evening out with your spouse. “We used to have so much fun when…”. The fun wears off and the “chore” of creating the fun grows until it becomes “not fun”.
What already exists in your life that you take too much for granted or now find “not fun”? What if you could turn that back around and really enjoy the person, the moment, the activity, or the item? When you focus on appreciating the good already in your life that often leads to more good coming your way. Sometimes you might have to really work your thinking to “see” the good, but the effort is worthy. The mental shift that occurs opens up a fresh set of eyes and even more new possibilities. Perhaps this will bring new ideas or a calmer look at that once stressful moment.
Community Conversation Questions:
Please share some of your thoughts, stories, and perspectives around financial stress in relationships.
- What situations seem to most often raise the stress levels?
- What are the symptoms when the stress is up for yourself or for your relationship?
- How do you go about figuring out how to best resolve the situation in the short run? Long run?
- What tools have you found most effective for your needs?