The Problem with Not Talking About Money

Most of you will recall the ballad written by Paul Simon called The Sound of Silence. The lyrics include the words “hello darkness my old friend” which perfectly describes the way many of us rely on the “darkness” when money is involved. The problem is, NOT talking about money doesn’t make money issues disappear…in fact, usually just the opposite. Our work primarily involves helping clients solve problems and achieve better outcomes. This requires actually talking about money matters, both those that are positive and those that are negative. Talking about money means addressing both baseless fears and real concerns. Money is just the currency we use to provide experiences and purchase necessities.

Couples and Money

Over the years we have worked with many clients that simply can’t bring themselves to talk openly about money and what priorities they have that are money-oriented. No wonder that 75% of divorces list money as the single largest issue. Sure, in some cases, lack of money, but in many others a disconnect between the partners about their expectations surrounding money. Each of us arrive in this world with a ‘factory installed’ set of money attitudes and preferences. We confirm and modify these preferences over time as we encounter different experiences with money, but the basic set of attitudes largely remain intact. Fast forward through life and we eventually have relationships, including those of the romantic variety, with people where their ‘money DNA’ is far different than our own. What we may have understood as ‘money truths’ may instead be thought of as ‘money myths’ by others. Add to this a certain taboo that money carries in some social circles and you have a perfect formula for creating money problems. This is the point in time where many individuals stop talking about money. We ask ourselves how can someone we love NOT comprehend the basic ‘money truths’ that we believe to be true?

The Gender Role

Of course, men and women often approach money quite differently. Substantial research shows, (and our empirical data affirms), that women are usually more concerned about financial security than men. In general, men think financial problems will work out so there is little reason to talk about these matters. Women tend to worry that everything might NOT work out as expected and DO want to talk about financial issues. Money matters are central to all of our lives, whether we talk about them or not. Coming to grips with your money personality and how this meshes with your money aspirations is critical. Start there. Ready for a real conversation? Related: The Cure for the Financial Dread Disease