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Introduction   ::  Your History  ::   Debt   ::   Expectations   ::   Budget   ::   Credit   ::   Money   ::   Resources

Understanding & Sharing Your Emotional History with Money

"Money can be more of a barrier between people than language or race or religion."
- Vera Caspary

Discussion: The Meaning of Money

Individuals go into marriage with values, attitudes, and behaviors that are unique to them based upon their life experiences. These life experiences come from differing ethnic and religious cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, and choices that have been made along the way. We sometimes go into a marriage relationship assuming that our spouse thinks the same as us in terms of how we want to do things. Just as with other aspects of married life, family finance also has a history that impacts how we expect to do things in the future.

Individuals rarely consider how their emotional history with money affects their behavior. After all, many of us may think that money and finances have nothing to do with emotions and feelings.

If we think about concepts that have to do with money, we may be surprised to realize that the concepts evoke emotions that are rooted in our life experiences. Below are some concepts related to money and financial management. As you think about the phrases, stop to consider what feelings or emotions go with them.

  • Winning the lottery
  • Your home being in an earthquake
  • Budgeting
  • Having no savings for a financial emergency
  • Receiving an inheritance
  • Investing in the stock market
  • Husbands managing the money
  • Wives managing the money
  • Life Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Having $30,000 in school loans

If you reflect on the emotional history that goes with the concepts on the previous page, you realize they are not neutral. For example, having life insurance may evoke feelings of security for one partner because they know their beneficiaries will be cared for after they are gone. For another person, life insurance may evoke feelings of money wasted on insurance premiums, because in their family, the recipients of life insurance money "blew it" on material things that were gone within a couple of years.

Having $30,000 in school loans may create a sense of panic for one person who sees the years of indebtedness ahead as financial bondage because of their past experiences with debt. Another person may feel very secure in knowing that $30,000 in school loans is an investment in the future because of their increased earnings potential. Both of the examples above evoke different emotions in different people and these emotions are likely to be a result of a person's past life experiences.

It is important to begin talking about our emotional history with money before marriage. We avoid talking about money because we think it will take away from the romance of the relationship. Because people have typically not had experience talking about money as a couple, talking about our emotional history is a good way to begin this discussion. Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin your discussions about money. These guidelines might be used as you complete the exercises following this section:

  • Carefully choose a time and place to begin your discussion about money.
  • Being relaxed and without interruptions will allow each person to express their thoughts and more readily listen to what their partner has to say.
  • Allow enough time for each person to say what they want to say.
  • Listen to each other without interruption or voicing judgment about what has been said.
  • Let your partner know that you heard what they said by restating what you heard them say. For example, you might say, "What I hear you saying is?."
  • Remember than when we share emotions we are usually letting the other person know our areas of vulnerability. Do not misuse that trust by using what the person shared to hurt them.

Other suggestions for developing communication skills can be found in the communication module.



Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, November 28). Finances. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License