In psychology, the study of relationships is called the Attachment Theory. Defined within the theory, there are four Attachment Styles – secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized. These styles show patterned ways you interact in relationships. They begin to develop at birth and run throughout your lives impacting all areas of your relationships. Today we will be looking at your financial life and how your attachment styles will dictate, in part, how you and your partner engage in money conversations.
Evaluating Your Financial Wellness
As with love, money is a concept that is seen in many different ways by different people. What being a financial success means to you can be entirely different from that of your intimate partner or anyone else. As an example, you may be happy with living paycheck to paycheck, as long as your bills are paid, you are fine, while your partner may need to be putting something in savings each paycheck to build a nest egg for the future, to feel comfortable.
In my practice, I use your financial wellness as the scale to evaluate how you are doing in your financial life while others may measure it by your financial security. Neither of these is wrong, it is just a preference or a different perspective, each advantageous in its own way. Now, take a minute and consider where you find yourself at this point in time. Rate your feelings about your finances and how you feel about them on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being terrible and 10 being unbelievably good. If you are below a 6, it’s ok, but there are likely other factors at play that impact how you feel about money. You could have other unresolved traumas such as a difficult childhood, abuse, or addictions that may need to be addressed for you to feel secure in your financial situation.
Many clients discuss with me how they feel shame and embarrassment about what others would think if they knew how they handle money, and what their financial situation actually is. As with social media, we only show the “highlight reel” of our lives, the same is often true of our financial situation. We seldom let others see the true picture. That said, with intimate partners, it needs to be shared. Being courageous enough to face money relationships is difficult, but necessary to understand each other and learn to work together.
Attachment Styles and How You Communicate
Your attachment style will come into play in how you approach your conversations with your partner about money. Your style dictates how you think and react in your relationships and that includes your shared money relationships. By exploring these styles and knowing how you think and how your partner thinks and feels will clear the way for more open discussions about your finances. For example, if your style is secure, you are comfortable and you may face things head-on, you’re not concerned about things, and if there is something concerning, you will deal with it and move on. But, if your partner falls under the avoidant style, they would rather not talk about things. They may believe that if they avoid it, then it’s not an issue. Can you see how conversations would be difficult for a couple with these two attachment styles? By understanding how your partner feels, you can more effectively communicate with them
Dr. Diane Poole Heller has a free Attachment Style Test on her website that would help identify your styles. I would recommend having a look. Understanding these styles and emotions can build intimacy and understanding with your partner.
Once you understand your attachment styles, when difficult money situations come along you and your partner will better understand how the other feels. This will make for easier discussions when deciding how to move forward. The communication between you will make it easier to have tough conversations. Then together you can expand your financial wellbeing. Begin feeling less pressure, more security and ease about your financial lives and goals. Does this mean you will not have difficult times or experience fear or shame around your finances? No, but you will be better equipped to handle them when you come from a place of mutual understanding. You may need to seek a financial therapist to get where you want to go, but those efforts will be worth it when you attain your financial wellness, together.
To learn more, you can see my article, Determining How You’re Attached in Love and Money on LinkedIn or visit my website for additional tools for attaining financial wellness. Watch for my upcoming book, The 4 Love Languages of Money coming out later this year.
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