The biblical legend of Valentines has forever tied and named February as the month of Love. As we enter this month, we are always reminded of how love is intertwined with everything we do and have, especially money. Despite the fact that these two domains seem beyond unrelated, when you look beneath the surface, you notice that many commonalities underlie the connection between the two. Take a healthy relationships as an example – for a matter of fact, you need a healthy relationship with people and with money. Establishing a strong and flourishing relationship with your partner is crucial to deepen your connection, just like having a healthy relationship with money is important for your future endeavors. Love can help one’s financial situation prosper, and visa versa. However, it has the ability to sabotage it as well.
Similar to the 5 languages of love (words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service and receiving gifts), money also has its own set of languages – emotional, practical, spiritual, and cultural. It is crucial to recognize that the root of most problems are embedded within one or all of these four realms. But this does not entail that problems are going to present themselves in a clear manner where you can distinguish between which language the problem stems from. Any financial problem couples face may seem like an issue of practicality on the surface; however, when you go past the tip of the iceberg, it can help you identify the primary concern and address it.
One thing about these money languages is that it can be thought of as a four legged chair. With one leg missing, it becomes quite difficult to balance yourself and to sit in; loss of the leg, it becomes more and more odd to sit in it, to the point, it no longer serves its function as a chair anymore. An imbalance in any one of the four aspects can drive a wedge between two people, affecting other aspects of their relationship. In the case where one of them only focuses on the emotional side of money and the other emphasizes the practical, financial conversations might start to feel and sound incomprehensible from both sides; each party is speaking a different language, with no translator to mediate in between. Though it may seem compatible at first, their stances are quite polarised where one’s focal point shows that their financial thoughts stem greatly from their emotions and feelings while the other focuses solely on the pragmatic aspect of money. Normally, people can spot an argument. The difficulty, however, lies in the ability to pinpoint the core of the problem. In this case, it is important for both parties to recognize the differences and acknowledge the polarity in their approach to money. Both need to understand the place for the logical and the emotional mind without being sucked in by one side.
On the other hand, in cases where both parties approach money through the emotional and spiritual lens, while there may be a fewer number of arguments amongst them, dealing with money problems will become a challenge as they are missing two of the legs. Some of the emotions that could override one’s decision include fear, guilt, and shame.1 The lack of awareness for these emotions can lead you to ignore your rationale despite its importance. While acknowledgement of emotions is crucial in establishing a healthy relationship with money, it cannot stand on its own.
What do we do now?
First and foremost, it is crucial to identify your own tendencies and preferences when dealing with financial issues. It is completely okay to have an inclination towards one aspect of money as none of us are perfectly well-rounded, and that is an unachievable goal. Having said that, it is also important to understand that intentional awareness of the other languages will help minimize the severity and number of conflicts as it allows you to see the issue from a variety of angles and put forward solutions that are in both parties’ interests.
Don’t let money be the problem in the harmony of love.
- Gourguechon, P. (2021, December 10). The psychology of money: What you need to know to have a (relatively) Fearless Financial Life. Forbes. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/prudygourguechon/2019/02/25/the-psychology-of-money-what-you-need-to-know-to-have-a-relatively-fearless-financial-life/?sh=134623d8dfe8