How to Keep a “Financial 9/11” From Interfering In Your Relationships


I’m calling the meltdown on Wall Street “financial 9/11.” With the stock markets plummeting more than they have in roughly two decades, with the bailout being denied, with banks being bought, people foreclosing, it’s easy to see how difficult times have become.

And this difficulty is spreading from out from Wall Street and Washington and trickling right down to the homes of many middle class Americans.

The One Thing People Fight Most About

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Money is one of the things people fight about the most, and with families throughout the nation feeling the pinch of high gas prices, rising food costs, possible job loss, less discretionary income and much more, fights about finances are likely to increase. And, while it’s naive to think that a financial crisis won’t take a toll on a a relationship, you don’t have to let it control your life.

It’s always a good time to talk about family finances but with things fluctuating the way they are right now, it’s IMPERATIVE to talk about money with your significant other. This is specially if the responsibility for budgeting, investing and financial decisions typically fall on one person.

Both people need to know what’s going on, need to be able to give input and need to feel like can voice their concerns. If the burden is falling on one person, the added stress of an unstable market can lead to poor decision making, including financial infidelity, where one person is making decisions, purchases or withdrawals behind the other’s back as a way of mitigating the added stress they’re feeling.

They can also turn to other addictive behaviors including overeating, resort to taking sleeping pills to help them fall asleep when their mind is racing, or even turn to a sexual affair. Couples need to remind themselves that they’re in it together, and they need to focus on the importance of being honest and working as a team.

Don’t Panic!

The important thing is not to panic. Aside from working through finances as a couple, you should also take times to do other things with each other. Watch your favorite TV show (which is free entertainment!), cook dinner together, exercise together. You want to keep your relationship and your passion for each other strong through this period as there will be lots of other distractions that will be needing your attention.

Talk About Money

Now is a good time to use “Smart Heart Dialogue,” which I’ve mentioned in my book, Financial Infidelity.  Smart Heart Dialogue helps you share your financial history with someone you’re becoming intimate with.

Many of these conversations can be triggered by a transition in a relationship like the financial transitions many couples find themselves in right now!  Use that transition to be open and honest in finding out what you can about the other person’s view of money.

This type of dialogue would likely work well in Washington to a). have mitigated this crisis in the first place and b). help politicians come to an agreement in terms of what’s to be done next. When talking in terms of Smart Heart Dialogue, I have some sample questions, one  of them being:

“I overspent while we were on vacation, can you lend me some money?”

The explanation I give seems especially fitting for the government’s current situation:

*The person asking for a loan may not take money and budgeting as seriously as you do. Or maybe you overspent too. Whatever the case, you need to evaluate how you deal with money, leisure activities and “spur of the moment” purchases.  

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