In Consultation

In Consultation

Love and Money: Couples Finances

By Sally Palaian

July/August 2011

These days, couples often come into therapy with problems related to their finances. How do I distinguish between money difficulties caused by the economic downturn and those that are more psychological in nature?

A: Some financial problems we now see are clearly beyond the control of the people involved, stemming from the real estate bubble, outsourcing of jobs and layoffs, increased medical expenses, and failing banks. These financial losses are real, and they’ve undermined lifetime financial plans. There’s tremendous grief when facing this type of loss. However, financial losses become even more complex when they derive from, or are compounded by, one or both partners’ psychological issues about money.

It’s important for therapists to recognize when the financial problems couples bring to therapy are chronic and, therefore, more psychological in nature. Therapists aren’t trained in financial issues and often are uncomfortable talking about money, but their willingness to discuss it with clients is crucial for uncovering chronic pathology, which may unfold later in the treatment process. There are simple questions to help therapists recognize three different types of financial problems couples often bring to therapy: those directly related to the external facts of the economy, those deriving from money conflicts within the relationship, and those reflecting the chronic addictive financial behaviors of one or both…

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1 Comment

Monday, July 25, 2011 8:54:25 PM | posted by Gloria Arenson
This wonderful article hits all the bases. In working with compulsive spenders for many years I discovered that many of them are also compulsive overeaters and "change deck chairs on the Titanic" when they seem to give up one and shift to the other feel-good problem.

In my book, Born To Spend I describe using EFT to deal with cravings and urges to shop and ways to tap away the stress that leads to the urge to feel good.