THE BLOG
12/22/2014 01:04 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How Money Woes Sabotage Your Relationships (And How You Can Heal Them)

No one wants their money issues to affect their relationships but, if current divorce rates are any indication, they do. Our relationships with partners, kids, parents, coworkers, friends, and even sometimes strangers are often rooted in the beliefs we hold about money, and those beliefs were often formed long before the relationship issues arose.

We all approach economic situations differently. How money affects our relationships isn't just about how much we have stashed in the bank. Instead, it's often a function of the emotional limitations we've created for ourselves, based on our long-held beliefs about money and its place in our lives.

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How To Build Better Money Relationships With Loved Ones

To create transformational change within our relationships, we need to be honest and open with ourselves -- about what we're avoiding in our lives, what we really want, and how we're actually feeling. Ready to get started? Read on for my three-step process to emotional money healing.

1. Be Aware. Before we can make any significant changes in our lives, we need to become aware of the money challenges we face. We need to really look at them for what they are, even if they're not pretty (and they probably aren't). The challenges usually don't feel good, even though we're irrationally holding on to them for dear life. Once we recognize a bad feeling for what it is, we usually want to get rid of it more than we want to keep holding on to it. That's when we'll know we're ready to start making progress.

One example is the realization of pain we bring on when we keep secrets from our significant other about our spending and purchasing behaviors. Becoming more aware of the situation is always the first step in the healing process.

2. Accept What Is. Acceptance has to come from deep inside. Digging that deep can, for many, be the most difficult part of the process. We have to allow our feelings to exist and give ourselves permission to experience the pain, shame, guilt, frustration, annoyance, or anger, that we associate with money. We accept that these emotions are part of the human condition and that it's only human to feel them.

Often times we use money to fill "holes" in how we feel about ourselves, which never really solves the underlying problem. However, when we accept that we are sad and allow ourselves to feel into that sadness, the feelings begin to dissolve naturally on their own and we realize that buying more stuff was never really a worthwhile solution.

3. Allow a Shift. When we diffuse those emotions we're able to step back and shift our attention towards discovering the deeper cause of our feelings. This allow us to notice many things in our life, including the root causes of our unhappiness. I've personally used this process to identify when my needs are not being met in my relationships and also when I am secretly feeling something negative about another person. Other situations include feelings of resentment toward a spouse for impulse spending or fear about lack of financial awareness within the household. Once we've discovered our secret feelings, we can then recognize that the other person probably already has a sense about what we're thinking about them. If we're angry, resentful, judging, or blaming, the other person probably already knows. Then we can put ourselves in their position and imagine how we'd react if we were in their place. Often we find that their behavior is very similar to what we'd have done, if we were in their place.

Knowing how another feels can give you the power to start a conversation from a place of compassion, instead of from anger, fear, resentment, or another relationship-destructing emotion. From this place, resolutions can heal in profound ways that cannot be predicted. The incredible part is that the other person doesn't even have to participate in the exercise (although it can be powerful if they do). Try for yourself, and watch as your money woes fade while your relationships grow stronger.

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