Budgets Don’t Cause Breakups — Conflict Does

Emotional experiences are the drivers of friction in all human relationships, not logic.

Spoiler alert — Humans have feelings

It’s not just you.

Most couples are struggling with how to conquer the psychological and emotional challenges of financial wellness. In 2016 (long before COVID-19), 88% of millennial couples reported money as a significant source of relationship stress.

Money can be awkward, anxiety-provoking, shameful to discuss. Note that these are emotional experiences. Emotions drive friction in all human relationships — not logic, not numbers. Consequently, staring at a spreadsheet, YNAB, or mint.com usually won’t reach the heart of a disagreement or explain why one partner feels lonely and misunderstood.

As an analogy, money fights are like smoke billowing out of a chimney. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The fire, in this case, is the emotional experience each partner is having. Just as smoke doesn’t burn down buildings, budgets don’t cause breakups. Conflict does. Pain does. Those are the metaphorical fires. If you wait to put out the fire until there is smoke everywhere, the longer you wait, the more damage is done.

In this analogy, Enriched Couples is the fire department:

  • our service is free

  • we love to snuff out problems

  • we look fantastic in red

The learning curve in forming healthy partnership habits can be steep, confusing, and distressing without support. Traditionally, couples spent years bubbling through, trying to make sense of their partner’s habits with money, expectations for saving, and so on.

In a system of trial-and-error, relationships either grow stronger or strained.

Instead of trial and error, what if couples could

  • … navigate conversations in a direct and healthy way as financial partners?

  • … measure, improve, and maintain healthy habits to reduce friction, increase connection, and build trust?

  • … become more self-aware about their individual mental health?

  • … strengthen the foundation of the relationship to protect it from future crises?

For many millennials, this has and will happen around the time of marriage or making a major purchase together, such as a home. Wedding budgets are stressful, so it’s unsurprising that engaged and newlywed couples tell us they need what we’re building. (Shoutout to all the brides we met at the Cincinnati Bridalrama in February!)

It’s true that some clergy do offer premarital counseling and include discussion of money. However, an infinitesimal number of secular providers offer distress prevention programs for young couples. Those who do are not specialized in financial issues, which remain a more taboo topic than sex for many couples therapists.

This is exactly why we are urgently building Enriched Couples.

(This article was republished with permission, written by Annette Miller at Enriched Couples of New Albany, IN)

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By Enriched Couples

Financial wellness for couples is based on trust, teamwork, #relationshipgoals — an amalgam of core values, histories and habits with money, mental health, and relationship skills. Learn more

About Enriched Couples: Financial wellness in couples isn’t about mere math. It’s an amalgam of core values, histories and habits with money, culture, mental health, and relationship skills. Enriched Couples is a woman-led tech company fighting to help 15 million couples prevent fights about finances.

The information and resources contained on this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to assess, diagnose, or treat any medical and/or mental health disease or condition. The use of this website does not imply nor establish any type of therapist-client relationship. Furthermore, the information obtained from this site should not be considered a substitute for a thorough medical and/or mental health evaluation by an appropriately credentialed and licensed professional.

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©2017 by Amanda Villaveces, LMFT & the Mental Health Lou Team