This is what I've noticed as a couples therapist: most people will talk freely with me about their sex lives, their difficult in-laws, their parenting failures, old childhood hurts and wounds, sensitive cultural and racial experiences and all the wonderful resentments that come up in a long-term relationship. (What therapist Terry Real calls “normal marital hatred”)
But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked clients how much they earn or how much school or credit card debt they have and been answered with—silence. And if I ask couples how much they talked about money when they were dating--silence.
Money is still a taboo topic in relationships. Women, particularly, have a hard time talking about money. We don't have a long history with making our own money, let alone how to talk about money. And, now that so many women have gained economic power, we need to find ways to be more upfront with our partners when it comes to money.
Like sex, money tells others so much about yourself—your fears, your desire to connect, and your personal power. But unlike, sex, most people do not know when and how and why to talk about it. I have had one couple see me for 15 sessions to discuss agreements around becoming a polyamorous couple; I have never had a couple ask to spend even 2 sessions on money.
Why is it so important for couples to talk about money? Because, when you enter a social-sexual-emotional relationship with another person, you are also entering a financial relationship with that person; together, you are creating a financial partnership. The more you understand your own attitudes about money, the easier it will be to talk to someone you love about your goals and blocks and fears around money, and the differences you have. And the more you talk, the more you will create a successful financial partnership that takes you through the good times and the bad.