money & couples

Money & Couples: Struggle vs. Relief with Guest Blogger Donna Colfer

This week’s post is from money coach Donna Colfer AFC, CMC. She does important work helping people to understand their relationship to money. Her business, Building Wealth From Within is located in Sonoma. From Donna…

We have entered a new era of consciousness, embodying more feminine, receptive, and loving energy; a perfect time to re-evaluate your relationship with your partner around money. Please don’t go screaming out of the room!

Think about it: Really, wouldn’t it be nice to put the uncomfortable subject of talking about money with your partner to rest? There’s so much pressure around money in most marriages, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

The first step for a couple to have a healthier relationship with money is to understand and show compassion for each other’s “story,” or history, growing up around money. This isn’t something we usually talk about when we’re dating or falling in love. We know our partner’s family background to some extent, but we don’t always know how his or her environment and role models adversely impacted them financially. By the time we start living together, our “money stories” unconsciously running in the background can trigger us in small ways causing big upsets. Situations might resemble those experienced by parents.

This is why couples fall into more common money traps, such as using money as a form of control or manipulation, misunderstanding each other’s wants and concerns, unclear agreements about financial priorities, staying in a relationship out of fear, loss, or security, and withholding pertinent financial information.

Understanding each other’s story

I worked with a couple, let’s call them Jack and Jill, who wanted to develop a healthier communication style around money. It was almost impossible for them to listen to each other long enough to come to any agreement. They were both on ‘broadcast’ all the time. Let’s consider their backgrounds.

Jack’s parents divorced when he was young. His mom needed to work outside the home; she wasn’t there when he came home from school and he didn’t have a close relationship with his father. As a young boy, he felt abandoned and left to take care of himself. But Jack’senvironment looked wealthy and mom went on expensive vacations. Unfortunately, a sense of stinginess and a lack of emotional support resulted in a confusing mixed message for Jack.   There was no communication between Jack and his mom about his feelings of fear, distrust, and never measuring up.

Jill’s father died when she was young and her mom struggled but always made it look like everything was okay. She overspent on unnecessary “things” but left very little money for food. The family struggled for years; fear and drama characterized Jill’s feelings about money. However, once Jill moved out she came to a place of having more faith and acceptance that things would always work out because they did!

Strained relationships

When Jack and Jill married, they weren’t conscious of each other’s “money story” and how it was influencing their relationship. Jill liked to spend and knew things would work themselves out and Jack was paralyzed with fear over the thought of going into debt. At times, as they struggled between jobs and tried to raise their family, Jill wanted to make it look as if everything was okay (as her mom had), and Jack  reverted to fear and distrust because he didn’t feel supported by Jill. He felt stinginess was the best tactic. When these two patterns around money collided they were unable to communicate effectively. A huge strain on their marriage resulted.

They agreed to seek help. Through their process, they gained a better understanding of each other’s pain from past experiences, and this brought new awareness, compassion, and an open communication style. Jill learned that creating a spending plan for the family kept them out of debt. Jack, being the breadwinner, felt a great relief in receiving support from Jill; support he hadn’t received from his mother. This peace of mind loosened his grip on stinginess and allowed a more generous heart toward his family.

It’s easier to love one another when you realize that money issues reside outside of your relationship. Everyone wins when there is more clarity, compassion, and new mutual agreements.

To learn more about your relationship with money, take the complimentary “Money Type Quiz.” Only you will see the results. Or contact me at

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