Looking at the Big Picture: The Purpose of Financial Intimacy in Marriage

Jul 29, 2022

Marriage and financial intimacy are a long game. Stepping back from the day-to-day concerns of paying bills, getting groceries, and coordinating summer vacations and kids camps, we see the long road to life, marriage, and money.


 Moving back and forth between looking at the here and now and the long game makes matters more complex. Financial planning becomes a part of your long game as part of your relationship with your spouse.


Here’s why developing financial intimacy in your marriage matters and helps work with the complexity of marriage and money.


A New Challenge: Fostering Financial Intimacy

No matter how long you have been together, you can reframe facing your finances as a new challenge that needs to be tackled together. Reframing your financial life as the desire to develop financial intimacy opens new ways to appreciate your partner’s personality and strengths.


Financial intimacy ultimately becomes an excellent tool for couples wanting to grow together. 


Needing help reframing your financial life between the two of you, financial therapy (or financial counseling) is a type of therapy that specifically address money issues within a marriage, family, or other close relationship between two people.


 In short, financial therapy involves working through money problems to improve marital communication and increase understanding between partners on all levels – emotional, physical, and financial.


Long Game

While some financial dips are unavoidable (such as, you know, children), there’s a lot you can do to mitigate their impact on your long-term financial health. For example, if you and your spouse have differing ideas about how to use the money to raise your kids, then taking some time to go deeper before deciding on a different balance matters. 


How long will you be married for? 


What’s your first reaction to this question?


What comes up next…


And now…


Many people intend marriage to be death do you part.

At the same time, based on both personal experience and broader awareness, people know many marriages are not forever. The uncertainty about marriage can cause people to hedge their financial bets, leading to gaps in financial intimacy and financial matters like creating a shared financial plan. 


Take this moment to stop and ask yourself and your partner. 


How old will you be in 


5 years


10 years


20 years


30 years


40 years


How far into the future can you imagine yourself, your partner, and your marriage? 


Seeing and remembering your marriage as a long game can give you renewed hope and reduce the sense of urgency that everything needs to change now. 


Marriage and financial change are like compound interest. The growth and change are often not impressive initially, but if you stay with it 5, 10, 20, 30, and 40 years you can hardly recognize your starting point. 


Learning From Past Mistakes

Being open to learning from past mistakes and misunderstandings signifies secure attachment.


On the other hand, perfectionism is a powerful but negative force in making positive financial and relational changes. Remember, perfectionism is a psychological defense mechanism that says if I do everything perfectly, everything will be okay. 


Perfectionism doesn’t end well for either the perfectionist or the person married to them. It robs the joy and freedom of being curious and open to new ways of thinking and do money and relationships. 


The good news? You’ll make mistakes with money and marriage — and that’s okay. The most important thing you can do is have an open conversation about where things went wrong so that both parties can learn from past mistakes. Being able to actively reflect with your partner about what went wrong and how it can be changed is a sign of secure attachment. 


Remember, marriage and financial intimacy are a long game; learning to communicate about money effectively will help you maintain happiness over time.


Balancing Our Different Needs 

Many people talk about needs and wants, but speaking of different needs is more accurate. Dr. Sarah Newcomb of Morningstar completely reframed this for me in her book Loaded: Money, Psychology, and How to Get Ahead Without Leaving Your Values Behind. 


In short, she describes utilizing Maslow's hierarchy of needs as a way of thinking about all of our money decisions as meeting one of the layers or multiple layers of needs.


For example, a gourmet meal for some may feel wholly indulgent and a pure want, with no need, attached. Yet when looked at through the lens of survival to actualization, we can see that a gourmet meal can meet many different needs. Our needs for nourishment, relationship (when we enjoy with our special someone), and actualization enjoying the beauty of food and the person that created it. 


I have had multiple clients share that their fancy business dinners lose their luster over time because the meals are not shared with the people they most love and want to be with. At the same time, the partner left home to tend to the kids and often grows resentful of the fancy meals and hotel rooms while they brush the kid's teeth and run the carpool line. 


Breaking Out Of Our Roles

We are often constrained by our roles defined by family, religion, social class, gender, and work, they all need to be evaluated and reevaluated to thrive in the long game of love and money. If we’re stuck too long in a role, we limit ourselves and deprive ourselves and our marriage of life’s true meaning. 


In other words, sometimes it pays to step back and see how our roles affect ourselves and each other. A little outside perspective can go a long way toward liberating you and your partner from these constraints. 


That is why I created The Couples Guide to Financial Intimacy—giving couples the tools, resources, and time to stop and reflect on the long game of their marriage. Be sure to sign up by Friday, August 12th, as the next group of couples starts on August 15th.  


Your marriage is worth it. 


Stop and think about how much money you have spent on your child's development. 


What’s the number that comes to your head?


Now how much have you spent in time and money on fostering your marriage and money life?


What would it be like to invest in your marriage and money life? 


I would love to see you in The Couples Guide to Financial Intimacy. A safe, open, and supportive environment to foster financial intimacy in your life. 

Curious About Your Attachment Style? 

Take the Attachment Style Quiz now and learn how it impacts your relationships, finances, and life!