1. Focus on understanding financial habits, not criticizing them. The tendency for couples engaged in a conflict is to point a finger at their partner and label the other's habits as wrong. Playing the blame game just fuels conflict and tension in the home. It is best to suspend judgment and focus on understanding your partner's spending behaviors.
Ask yourself: What triggers the spending? How does the person feel before, during and after the purchase? Did anyone in his or her family spend money in the same way? What impact might that have on their current money-management skills? Taking a curious stance increases mutual understanding, fosters compassion and sets the stage for real change.
2. Examine your side of the equation. Often the behavior that attracted you to your partner is now the one that is driving you crazy. Take some time to think about your part of the couple dynamic as it relates to money. When you first started dating, did you find your partner's ability to spend freely attractive? Do you prefer being the one in financial control and, therefore, married to someone who is less financially knowledgeable?
Dr. Benson explained, "Spouses often enable money disorders like compulsive buying, sometimes to distract their partner from some of their own negative behaviors. More than once I've encountered couples where the wife's compulsive buying is partially an expression of anger about a husband's infidelity."
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It is important that you look inward and understand your relationship with money and what part you play in the dynamic. Whether you like it or not, when it comes to couples and money, the solution lies in both partners changing their behavior, not just one.