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For several weeks now, we’ve been introducing you to the seven pillars of connection that make up the bedrock of every romantic relationship. These pillars inform everything we do here at Core Values Counseling, and we want to share what we’ve learned about them to help you strengthen your own relationship with your partner.


Each of us has a fundamental need to connect with our partner in seven distinct areas:

  1. Emotional Connection
  2. Relational Connection
  3. Spiritual Connection
  4. Physical Connection 
  5. Sexual Connection
  6. Financial Connection
  7. Recreational Connection

Today, we’re discussing the sixth pillar: Financial Connection.


First off, let’s just be real. Financial connection is HARD. It can be tough to talk about money, even — and especially — with our partner. 


But it’s important to be on the same page about your finances.

Easier said than done, I know. So much of what you bring to the table — literally and figuratively — has to do with how you were raised and how you are wired. Your family of origin greatly influences what sort of meaning you ascribe to money, as well as how you budget and manage your money (or don’t). 


My family was terrible at budgeting. Suffice to say my family ran on credit. They didn’t instill in me the importance of a budget, much less how to manage one. In fact, I didn’t even know what budgeting was until I married Eric. 


When I was growing up, after my parents got divorced, my father had a lot of money. My mom did not. I was very poor living with my mom. But it was the exact opposite with my dad. My childhood was a very prince-and-pauper experience, financially speaking. 


It wasn’t until Eric and I married that we both realized how different he’d had it. Unlike me, Eric was raised in a very stable home with generations of earned and well-managed wealth. His family instilled in him the belief that you don’t do something or buy something until you have the money to pay for it. 


I, on the other hand, was like “But we have credit cards! What are those for if not for buying the things we want??” The answer to which, of course, is debt. 


Financially speaking, that dichotomy between Eric’s lived experience and mine was and is something that we struggle with. When we manage to be on the same page about our finances, we are so much more at peace and in harmony with one another! We really do get a lot of things done, have more freedom, and generally enjoy life more when we’re living within our means. 


Eric and I are so proud and so grateful to have a common vision for what we want our money to be used for (this ties into the top two floors of the Gottman’s Sound Relationship House: Make Life Dreams Come True and Create Shared Meaning). But we’re constantly in the process of learning together how best to achieve that vision/goal. 


One thing that has been very helpful for us is Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. (Eric teaches the FPU course about twice a year, and you can be a part of it online or in person! Learn more about it here.) 


The groundwork for this work actually began years ago with Larry Burkett’s book, The Family Budget Workbook: Gaining Control of Your Personal Finances. (Personally, I like Burkett’s tone and approach better than Ramsey because I find it more palatable; Dave Ramsey strikes me as a bit of a bully, and I bristle against that.)

Regardless of your thoughts on Ramsey, the concepts in FPU are so good! And they can be an absolute lifesaver for your financial connection and the overall health of your relationship.


When you and your partner aren’t on the same page about your finances, it can feel like you’re walking on sharp rocks; everything feels difficult and painful. But the switch can happen rapidly. 


For me, personally, it takes recognizing that there’s sometimes an almost child-like side of me that comes out stomping my feet and throwing a tantrum when I don’t get my way — even though it isn’t helpful. 


Over time, having a budget and parameters in place has helped a lot with that. 


When I can quiet that old, unhelpful part of me that rails against that structure — and instead step into the familiarity of that structure — it helps me feel safe and secure. I know that my dreams matter! They’re simple: I want to have fun outings with grandkids. I want to go to Europe next year. I want to make charcuterie boards! My dreams are simple, and they matter. And Eric and I are making them happen together.


Sometimes, Eric and I even go through times when we put in place what we call “austerity measures.” We might be trying to save for something or pay something off quickly. It’s not an easy process, but doing it as a couple is so rewarding. It’s joyful and invigorating to be on the same page and working together toward our goal. 


To live within our means and save for what we want — instead of taking out the credit card as a shortcut — has been one of the great gifts of our life and our marriage. Doing this takes practice and persistence, but the payoff has been 100% worth it.

If you’d like to learn more about getting on the same page with your spouse and connecting better financially, now is a great time to get started. Contact us today for one-on-one help. And keep an eye out for future offerings of Financial Peace University with Eric. We know you’ll benefit from it immensely!