Financial Setbacks Won’t Hurl you Down an Abyss When You…

“When the ability to earn was taken away it rocked our world. We didn’t have inheritances or trust funds to rely on. We create our own net and the holes were made by the others (thieves.)”

This was a comment someone made to me last week as they were talking about how the 2008 financial crash devastated their lives. Both husband and wife worked at the husband’s company. It went from 5 employees in an upscale office downtown to the two of them operating out of their basement. Their lives went into a tail spin as they tried to regroup in 2009 and 2010

Back then they had a child entering high school, a mortgage, with a lifestyle they had become comfortable with.

As you might imagine, the next four years was difficult for them as they struggled to keep the house, keep the business, and come up with the money to finance their child’s college expenses.

As a result of the change that was forced on them by the repercussions of the financial meltdown, they retreated into their own worlds of fear. Stunned at the abrupt and devastating change in their financial picture, they unleashed their anxieties about money on each other.

As the family business struggled, the husband spent more time secluding himself from his family. At the same time the wife started doubting his ability to generate business. She left the business and took a job with a company who would pay her for her talents and skills.

Their conversations about money became less and less frequent. The wife brought in steady income and suddenly their team work turned into feelings of resentment. She was bringing money in and keeping things afloat while he was trying to secure new clients.

Their money conversations slid into blame and finger pointing. “You got us into this.” “You never save.” “No, you’re the one who overspends. We don’t need to take vacations like the ones you want” became familiar phrases. These stories went on for five years as they were selling assets and trying to rebuild.

They are the fortunate ones because they saw that they were in danger of losing their marriage if they didn’t get on the same page with their money. They saw how disconnected they were about their money. They saw how they were spending less and less time together and more time focused on their own survival.

As we started working together, they recognized that they had developed some nasty behaviors with each other about money, ones that withdrew respect and trust for each other and their combined ability to manage their finances effectively.

They are now rebuilding that trust with each other in small steps and measurable ways that is benefitting their relationship and benefitting their financial situation.

I wonder how many couples are divorcing because they won’t or can’t talk about their money issues.

Why do I bring this up? Because when we don’t understand what money means to us, be it good or bad times, our money habits, behaviors and stories can dramatically and deleteriously affect our most precious relationships.

If you don’t already, think about how you can have a conversation at home about what money means to you.

  • What does having money give you?
  • What would happen if your money started dwindling and kept dwindling?
  • What was money like growing up for you?
  • What don’t you ever want to have happen with you and money?
  • How would you stop that from happening?
  • What do you have in place to help with that?

These are questions you can ask your spouse/partner to learn the meaning of money in their lives.

Others have and have lost it all-their money and their key relationships by not getting a handle on their relationship with money. You can stay in control of your life with money by staying involved with your relationship to your money and building a system of communication and intention with your spouse/partner.

I would love to hear from you. Give me your comments on this post, especially as it relates to the bullet points above. Have you used them? What did you learn?

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