Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Couples and Money: Building a Joint Relationship with Money

Part of using Law of Attraction to improve our financial lives lies in the act of evaluating how individual actions make us feel. I utilize an emotional scale, like a thermometer that takes my emotional temperature upon completion of certain activities.  This tool provides me with insight as to which actions are flowing for me, and which ones cause resistance.  This analysis establishes a baseline from which growth can occur.  Only upon establishing this baseline can we begin the journey of enhancing our own relationship with money, allowing abundance to flow more freely into our experience.  But how does this work when operating as a couple?

Establish A Baseline:

Managing finances as a couple is complicated because we each come to the table with our own money story, which results in a variety of strengths and resistances.  The first step is to establish a baseline as an individual.  Both individuals should use the emotional scale to track how they feel when performing certain tasks of a financial nature.  Some examples might include paying a bill, purchasing groceries, paying the mortgage or rent, transferring money into a savings or investment account, reading a statement, or buying something recreationally.  Ideally, each person in the partnership tracks a similar (if not identical) activity.  Only once each person has taken the time to track their feelings individually, should they discuss their findings.  


It's important to realize that a discussion about how individuals feel when they track certain financial activities requires vulnerability and simultaneously compassion.  No one is right.  No one is wrong.  The goal is to move both individuals up the emotional scale, into positive territory, where financial activities are concerned.  Going down the list of activities you tracked, compare, and contrast experiences with your partner.  Are there certain things that you feel similarly about? 

My partner and I both have positive experiences with saving money.  When she transfers money into either our joint savings or her individual one, she experiences empowerment.  When I perform the same action, I experience joy.  While these are two different emotions, they are relatively close, and both have a high and positive rating on the emotion scale.  They are both "north of neutral" so to speak.  In places where we are both having positive feelings about a financial activity, there is no real action that needs to be taken.  It is important, however, to note these things because they can be used as leverage to help in other areas. 

Look for places where you experience the same (or similar) action differently.  Is there a place where one of you has a positive emotion, but one of you has a negative one?  Zoom in on those items.  Remember, right and wrong don't live here.  

In doing this work, my partner and I realized some time ago that we had very different experiences when it came to paying bills.  When I pay bills, I feel empowered.  This is a really high ranking emotion on the emotional scale (side note: if you type "emotional scale" into any search engine you will find a plethora of beautiful visual images that can help you).  As soon as I get paid, I want to immediately pay the bills because it makes me feel empowered to have them taken care of and paid in full.  

At this point, my partner has a positive association with bill paying, but that wasn't always the case.  For her, the act of paying bills used to trigger the feeling of insecurity.  This insecurity relates to her money story.  Historically, in the past, she did not have credit or savings.  If she paid all of the bills immediately, leaving her only $10 sitting in her checking account, she might not have the money to deal with something that pops up. The residue of that previous experience caused a behavior pattern.  She felt more secure with the money literally sitting there until as close to the next payday as possible.  

Now, where does this difference create relational issues?  If the same action (paying bills) that makes me feel empowered, makes her feel insecure, that's a problem.  I'm rushing to get the bills paid so that I can feel empowered, and literally setting her up to feel insecure.  Looking at it from the opposing angle is interesting as well.  If she delays paying bills in order to be on the positive side of the emotional scale (because it makes her feel serene), then I feel a slew of negative emotions: judgmental, insecure, and impatient.  Then I look at her and wonder "why is she dragging her feet on this?"  Next stop?  Conflict.  What's even worse?  It's a lose-lose situation because we weren't on the same page.  Nobody was right, and everyone loses!  Sounds like a terrible game to play, right?

Analysis into Action:

How do we get on the same page?  Logic would suggest that we just pay the bills right away.  If we choose that action, is there some way we can use the information that we collected to move her up the emotional scale when that action is taken?  It turns out, that there is a way!  Two ways in fact!

1.  Eliminate the source of the negative feeling.

If we really dig into this, we can see that it isn't really the bill payments that created her feeling of insecurity.  This feeling came from not having money in her checking account.  After some discussion, we discovered that she always felt safe when there was at least $100 in her checking account.  It seemed mind-blowingly simple.  If we literally pad our checking account by an extra $100 that literally just sits there, my partner avoids a whole slew of negative emotions.  For the low, low cost of $100, we just eliminated the source of the negative emotion in the first place.

2.  Use a feel-good action as leverage.

Do you remember how at the beginning I described for you one of the financial actions that created really high-level positive emotions for both of us?  We both felt really good about transferring money into savings.  She felt empowered.  I felt joy. We decided to borrow some of the high-vibes from this feel-good activity and lend it to the act of paying bills.  At our money meeting, after payday, we immediately take care of any bills that are not on autopayment. After we've done that, we get to push our favorite button, the one to transfer money into the savings account!  Then we both look at the new balance and marvel about how it's never been that high before.  Frankly, we're both too busy feeling good to be bothered about the fact that the electric company just got a share of our paychecks.

It might seem like the solution to an issue we had in the past was ridiculously simple.  In fact, it is simple, but I don't believe we were going to find our way out of it using purely logic.  By using the emotional scale and caring enough about each other's ability to feel good when interacting with our finances, we have not only been able to get on the same page, but also to avoid conflict, and most importantly, build and enhance our joint relationship with our finances.

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