Money can be a touchy topic in relationships, whether you have a little bit or a whole lot. How we handle money is usually related to a deeper emotional issue, rather than strictly a financial issue. Our personal relationship with money creates the foundation for how we handle finances in our significant relationships. And when our partners don’t share the same type of relationship with money as we do, money-handling can cause tension and disagreements, possibly leading to resentment and even breakups, if the issues persist.
It’s common that both partners may not agree about money-handling, but it’s possible to compromise. The trouble generally starts either when financial guidelines in the relationship haven’t been established — so there are no boundaries for handling money; or when guidelines are established, but the boundaries are crossed without discussion or agreement.
One of the biggest areas of conflict I hear in couples therapy is the idea that one wants to put money away for the future, while the other wants to live in the present and stop saving so much. While there may be validity to both points of view, these desires are opposite, and therefore will need compromise in order to keep conflict from continuously arising.
In order to make improvements in our relationships, it’s necessary to figure out what’s not working well… and in order to figure out what’s not working well, we first have to recognize the signs of trouble (the symptoms that suggest there is an underlying issue).
There are certain more obvious cues that suggest something is wrong in a relationship, such as abuse, or emotional and/or sexual affairs. But it’s often a combination of less obvious issues that can eat away at a relationship.
When we take a moment to notice how we manage our day-to-day, moment-to-moment moods within our relationships, it’s interesting to see that the first communication of a bad mood is usually already too late to prevent conflict. How often does your partner snap at you (or vice versa), with that moment being the first realization that he or she is in a bad mood?
I do occasionally come into contact with couples where one announces to the other, “Don’t talk to me right now, I’m in a bad mood.” A little warning up front can go a long way towards preventing unnecessary conflict. The warning is important for several reasons:
Have you ever been in an argument with your partner where you both reference a conversation or an event that occurred in the past, and can’t agree on what actually happened? But you both believe beyond all doubt that you know exactly what happened and what was said?
It’s a common relationship battle where a point in the past is the focus of a current conflict. For example:
Partner #1: “You said you’d take out the garbage when you got home tonight!”
Partner #2: “No, I said I’d take out the garbage tomorrow after I got home, and that tonight I wouldn’t have time.”
Both partners remember having a conversation, and both believe they remember it exactly as it happened. Obviously, it’s not possible that both partners have an accurate version of the conversation, even if both believe strongly that they do. There is a reason that this happens:
Have you ever experienced a feeling of helplessness when a loved one or friend has struggled with depression? We don’t want to see our loved ones in pain, but it’s not always clear how to provide the appropriate support for what they are going through. We may end up saying things that we think they want to hear that either add fuel to the fire, or just simply are not helpful. Depression is an emotional struggle that prevents logic and reason from helping someone feel better. We can point out all the good things from our perspective, and then end up frustrated that our friend or loved one both isn’t feeling any better, and now has probably asked you to stop talking.
Depression can be a tough topic to fully grasp without going through it, or at least have a loved one who’s been strongly afflicted by depression. People who haven’t been through depression have sometimes questioned depression as a state of laziness, while a person suffering from depression is going through a deep emotional struggle with their existence. Depression can be triggered from life events, and it can also have a biochemical component, or both. Whatever the trigger for depression (and whether acute or chronic), it’s never easy for the person struggling. Most times, a person suffering from depressive symptoms wants to improve and feel well, but the nature of the struggle makes it difficult to be motivated to take the necessary steps.
Co-parenting with an ex can be a stressful and emotional endeavor, even when things are civil. Unfortunately, it is common that breakups are rough, and the co-parenting relationship involves friction, arguments, disagreements about parenting choices, general opposition, manipulation, and so on.
A “difficult ex” can describe several personality types — and if you’re dealing with a difficult ex, you probably already know. Some may generally oppose any decisions or suggestions you make, wanting to make sure that all ideas implemented in parenting are their own, in an attempt to control the parenting; some try to actively diminish the influence you may have on parenting decisions by making important decisions without collaboration; some also have a need to constantly compete and win against you, rather than focusing on the best interest of the child or children.
Relationships all have their share of trying times. It’s unrealistic that a relationship will always be happy and smooth. Even the best of relationships experience rough patches. But how we respond to these difficult moments is what determines the direction a relationship will take from there.
When relationships go through instability, we are more vulnerable to subconsciously turning away from the relationship. This can happen in different ways. Some may end up focusing on work, or channeling attention into other activities, being with friends more often, and so on. But when a person is feeling neglected, resentful, or rejected by their partner, it can be tempting to start noticing other people who provide the type of craved attention that isn’t happening in the relationship. If we are not aware when we get caught up in this type of craved validation with an outside person, it can end up leading to emotional and behavioral (sexual) infidelity.