Over the past few weeks I’ve been discussing my financial story highlighting the philosophies from my childhood, how this influenced me to act during my marriage, and the consequences it has presented during my divorce proceedings.
Unfortunately, my story is not unique in the fact that woman very often give away their power around money. While I think the paradigms are shifting, our patriarchal society has taught us to value men as superior thinkers in the finance arena.
I have heard various stories of women giving up promising careers, earning equal or greater salaries than their spouse but not speaking up regarding household finances, and simply putting their own dreams aside so that their spouse can advance and achieve financial success.
Why do we do this?
We don’t value ourselves or see ourselves as worthy. It’s been ingrained in our societal messaging that women are here to serve men.
My personal experience has been mixed messaging. Go and be successful, go after the money and the job, don’t trust your feelings/ intuition. Oh, now you are married so you have to sacrifice and think about what is best for everyone else but you.
Here are some of the quotes I remember people telling me.
“It’s best if you can stay home with your children.”
“A man’s life never changes.”
“This is what you signed up for.”
Today’s society is confusing because everyone shares their opinions and imposes their beliefs. It is no wonder we don’t value and trust ourselves. In turn, we develop beliefs and mindsets that are not our own. How do we start to change this and value ourselves?
First, we need to be honest with ourselves and ask some questions.
What do you want? Do you want to have a career? What are you passionate about? What is your vision for your life? How do you manage your finances? What does each partner’s involvement look like? Am I okay with this type of spending? What do I value? How much do I want to save? How has my childhood influenced my money mindset? Am I a spender? Am I a saver?
This is just a tipping point.
In general, we have the good or bad example of how our parents managed money and sometimes it’s not that simple or easy to figure out.
Next, we need to know our boundaries.
Once you are honest with yourself and you know your desires, you can set boundaries.
Boundaries do not mean that you do not trust your spouse. Simply, boundaries demonstrate what you value and respect.
Do you want a prenuptial agreement to protect the assets you bring into the marriage? Do you want to keep a separate bank account? What amount money are you each comfortable spending without consulting each other? When do you need to consult each other?
Many people find discussing money matters uncomfortable, however it is much more uncomfortable to struggle with this later on in a relationship. Lay it all out on the table ahead of time.
Finally, we need to communicate.
I know firsthand that it can be scary as hell to find your voice and speak up around money. I didn’t do it. I’m angry that I didn’t speak up, but I have learned and won’t make that mistake again.
As with anything, communication is a key factor to building a healthy relationship around money. When we have the courage to communicate our feelings, desires, and boundaries around money we can value ourselves and our money in our relationships.
I realize that this doesn’t sound like rocket science, but most of us don’t take the time to even think about them which in turn leads to money stress.
If you are single, engaged, or well into a marriage, start having these conversations with yourself and then your partner.
When you get honest with yourself, set boundaries, and communicate you will show your value and it will start to shift our cultural paradigm.
How are your views changing after honest reflection about finances? Let me know in the comments below.