Money can either make you or break you. The choice is yours!
“Money is the reason my marriage failed,” my new coaching client said.
Damn, I thought … once again, money became the uninvited partner that knocks the sense (and cents) out of two, once-upon-a-time-madly-in-love individuals. Not knowing when, why, or how money took over their most intimate relationship, divorce was now a fact of life.
And that’s the thing—money doesn’t overtake your marriage overnight. It likely isn’t one single big event you can point to and say, “That’s the day when it all changed.” Money takes charge gradually … day-by-day, month-by-month, year-by-year, until it’s no longer just the two of you without money. You’re now a threesome (and not the fun kind)!
So, how does money take over your marriage until you’re at the brink of divorce?
Well, let’s just say, if you want to RUIN your marriage over money, make sure to do the following faithfully …
1. Avoid conflict. Starting from the first date when you both wonder who’s going to pay, avoid conflict by keeping your opinion and preferences to yourself. It’s much easier to keep things “nice” and not rock the love boat. Instead, just make your partner guess what matters to you about money … and then resent them if they guess wrong. That’s fair, right?
2. Remain silent. Even if your parents taught you how to save money, they likely didn’t talk to you about money on a deeper level (because they didn’t know how). As a result, you probably grew up avoiding money conversations because they cause fights, stir up shame (and blame), or felt just plain impolite. Whatever the reason, you learned it’s best to not ask questions about money. Definitely stick with this plan.
3. Judge each other (harshly, and often). Even though you never really talked about money and therefore never fully understood what was going on, you added your own personal spin of misunderstanding to the topic and made that your personal gospel truth. So, how dare your partner do, think, or say something different?! You think, What the hell? They clearly don’t have a clue. Good thing you’re the expert.
4. Embrace shame. Although your partner doesn’t know what they’re doing (a “fact” you point out to them often), never let on that you don’t either. Keep that secret tucked away in a dark corner of shame. Rather than working together to get on the same page about money, work even harder to keep money your own dirty little secret.
5. Recycle the blame. With each money conflict you avoid, judgment gets bigger and blame gets stronger. It’s a vicious cycle that gains steam until every thought, word, or action further drives a wedge into your marriage. By all means, keep this fantastically destructive pattern going (it’s clearly working for you). Before long, you’re miles apart with no way to bridge the gap. Congratulations!
Following these five toxic steps, you’re sure to lose track of each other and forget why you’re together. Let money take over your choices, your conversations, and your values. Instead of money being a supporting role in your life, it now has the starring role in the greatest divorce story of all—YOURS.
Don’t like that not-so-happy ending? Well then, perhaps DIFFERENT choices than the ones above are worth considering. Yes? Money can either fuel your dreams or burn your relationship to the ground. The choice is yours.
Originally published @ YourTango.com.