Magical Thinking About Finances Can Put a Strain on Your Relationship

At some point or another, almost all of us have used magical thinking to give us the confidence to go on when a relationship hits a rough patch. Most people are able to move through this stage by taking risks to confront their partners.

They realize that heated discussions, arguments, even passionate fights are part of the process of negotiating the differences between two individuals. They are able to set aside the fear of abandonment and be courageous instead of comfortable, proactive instead of defensive. They realize that when two people become entrenched in a behavior pat tern, one of them must change in order to break the pattern.

There are no magical solutions

There are no “magical solutions” (except for those people still in the honeymoon stage).

When it comes to money, most adults pride themselves on their practical approach to handling their own finances. But when it comes to cooperatively managing shared resources in an intimate relationship, I have seen even the most savvy financial managers—individuals who handle negotiations, investments, and expenditures of huge sums of money in their careers—engage in magical thinking, rather than initiate discussions about money with their partners.

Are you practicing magical thinking?

To find out if you practice magical thinking to ease concerns about money, ask yourself the following questions…

  • Are you a gambler?
  • Do you expect to win if you buy a lottery ticket?
  • Do you believe it’s just as easy to find a rich spouse as a poor spouse?
  • Do you believe you can influence your financial situation, or do you think that thingswill eventually “just work out”?
  • Do you avoid discussions about money?
  • Do you feel financially secure, even if you don’t have money put away?
  • Do you still feel nervous about your future, even though you are financially prepared?
  • Do you believe that appearances let you know whether a person you are dating does or doesn’t have money?
  • Do you find yourself daydreaming about a sudden scenario that will change your financial picture (for better or worse)?
  • Do you believe that if a bank is willing to give you a loan, you are capable of repaying it?
  • Do you pick pennies up from the sidewalk because you believe you will be able to save for a vacation that way?
  • Do you believe a college degree is a guarantee of a good income?
  • Do you believe that as long as you are working at a responsible job you can afford a new car or other major purchase, regardless of your balance sheet?
  • Do you believe colleges will give you or your children significant financial aid because you have large amounts of debt?
  • Do you believe bankruptcy is a way to get out from under your personal debt with no real consequences?
  • Do you believe it’s okay to carry high personal debt because “everyone else does”?
  • Do you believe that if you don’t open a bill, you don’t have to pay it that month?
  • Are you late with bills, even though you have the money to pay them on time?
  • Do you believe that you should always stretch yourself to have the best house, car, or personal technology available?
  • Do you purchase status items because they make you feel “rich”?
  • Do you put high-ticket items you really can’t afford on your credit card because it’s not like spending “real” money?
  • Are you “keeping up with the Joneses” even if it puts you in debt?

Practicing magical thinking when it comes to finances can put a strain on your relationship. Seek counseling to help you establish more realistic financial thinking.


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