Money and Psychological Baggage

by Dual Income No Kids on April 16, 2008 · 0 comments

Hi All,

One thing I’ve found about being married to my wife Miel is that its both complicated and enriched my financial life. When we first moved in together, I initially assumed that we both saw eye to eye on money issues. However, it soon became pretty clear that we had very different histories and attitudes when it came to pecuniary matters.

One incident comes to mind which illustrates our differences. When we first moved in together, it became clear that Miel had more than 10 thousand dollars in credit card debt. I almost blew my stack when I heard how much it was. For me, credit card debt reminds me of feeling powerless and ineffectual, largely due to an experience I had running up too much of it in graduate school.

To Miel’s credit, the debt was very quickly paid off. In fact, over the years I’ve gained a lot of respect for my wife’s ability to make appropriate use of consumer credit, so what this story illustrates is the wider point that people have psychological baggage around money.

This baggage tends to get in the way when it comes to couples managing conflict. That is, when people fight about money the argument is sometimes motivated by underling feelings about money, rather than the actual topic of conversation. Right, so in a conflict about overspending, a couple may actually be fighting about underlying issues like self esteem, security or love. In this case, my reaction to the credit cards was more about the fear of feeling powerless again, rather than the actual debt itself.

Best,

James

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