In romance and finance, its all fifty shades of grey. How it ends depends on where you come from and how you handle your issues.
Bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James gives readers complicated relationships rooted in childhood trauma. The story of resolving a troubled past through true love is spun around a good looking, “filthy rich” guy (though some reviewers put the emphasis on ‘filthy’). Despite mixed reviews, the book sold 65 million copies worldwide.
Because money is not an issue in the story, the ‘happily ever after’ Hollywood ending is the cliché ‘love conquers all.’
In real life, love does not conquer all, especially when it comes to real life finance. Sure love really helps people to have sticking power, but love and hard work is what weathers the storm. You need both. In life, as in the bestseller, the stormy issues start in childhood (whether we are speaking of love or money). This puts the onus on the parents to raise kids who can deal with life.
Financial beliefs develop in childhood. According to psychologist and author Brad Klontz, a therapist specializing in financial issues, everyone develops unconscious beliefs about money through childhood experience. What money messages did you get at home? If it was a negative, like “money burns a hole in my pocket’ you could have been programmed early on to become a spendthrift!
Money is primarily a family issue. My theory is “money is a family issue, and it doesn’t come with instructions.” Money conflicts can shake up a family, even in households that are not struggling financially. Resolving financial grey areas effectively by communication and understanding is one of the best things you can do for your kids.
Children need good financial role models to help them understand what money is, how it works and how to have a healthy financial self (whether or not they are in a relationship). If the home has toxic issues about money, the kids will continue the legacy and have money problems as well.
Communicate money beliefs, upbringing and habits. Belinda Fuchs, a Boston CPA and financial coach, agrees. Couples “don’t take the time to understand and talk with each other about their money beliefs, upbringing, habits, and behaviors with money,” she says. “Then they judge, blame, and complain about how their partner is with money. The couple then stops communicating and starts resenting, avoiding, and hiding issues with money. The result: significant stress, arguing, and financial infidelity — and the relationship sinks.”
Communication and trust are the cornerstones of a good relationship, yet most marriages end in divorce over financial issues. Clearly, while money should be the best area of communication in a relationship, it appears that it is turning out to be the worst.
The family rescuer/martyr syndrome. A child who sees the family struggling financially may decide to become the financial rescuer. This child will find ways to make money that will “save” the entire family. This child may grow up to be the martyr of the family and always put him or herself under the financial pressure of having to do better, or ‘take one for the team.’ Responsibility is an awesome thing, but too much of it has the opposite effect. These individuals could grow up to be spouses who stay in negative situations because they feel is more important than they are! When you only feel as good as your pay check, it spells trouble and could result in the family rescuer/martyr syndrome for generations to come.
Self-worth is valuable. Equating self-worth with net worth means that a person thinks people with money are the only ones worthy of love and a good life. This is a driving factor for many high achievers, yet it is also the cause of loneliness and depression. A high achiever may also cause other family members to become “dependent” on the rescuer. Others may never see a need to develop the life skills to take care of themselves. The motivation is love, but money complicates everything. Self-worth has a higher value than net worth. With the former, you can always acquire the latter.
Fear-based behavior hurts. Sometimes the fear of not having enough money starts in childhood. A woman who saw her mother suffer through divorce and raising six children alone, becomes a money hoarder. Her fear of being left alone and penniless causes her to compulsively accumulate money and hide it from everyone. Hoarding causes her to lie to her spouse and children, causing stress on herself and on relationships. She works hard yet is not be able to enjoy money.
Note to the parents: teach your kids how to talk about money from an early age – you may be saving them from relationship problems later in life. Larry Burkett, noted financial author, says, “Money is either the best or the worst area of communication in our marriages.” For couples divorcing, money is most often the worst area of communication.
In love and money, there is no right or wrong, only what is right for you and what you can live with. It’s all fifty shades of grey and learning to make the best decision for yourself. Hopefully, it all works out ‘in the end.’
If you’d rather not wait that long, get help when you need it. You can change! If you want to change the world, help your kids have a healthy self image starting at an early age and be proactive with them about money.
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Candi Sparks is the author of children’s books about money “Can I Have Some Money?”. Educating Children About Money, Max Gets It!, Nacho Money and other titles. Her newest titles to be released this year. “Sold Out“ and “Smart & Pretty” focus on building community and entrepreneurship for young people. She is the Dean of Young and Rising Moguls at World of Money and a Brooklyn mother of two, on Facebook and Twitter (Candi Sparks, author).
Belinda Fuchs, Brad Klontz, Can I Have Some Money?, Candi Sparks, child development, E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey, finance, financial literacy, kid money book, Max Gets It, Nacho Money, World of Money, Worldofmoney.org