“What did you do?!,” I yelled. When my husband came back from a Miami fishing trip we couldn’t afford, proudly hauling his 6-foot taxidermied barracuda financed at 21% APR, I was apoplectic. There was no active listening. There was no appreciative inquiry. I was vein-popping mad. By the time the beast was paid off, it cost ~$600 in currency and about ~$2000 in relationship expense. It hangs on display to this day, fondly known as the ‘divorce-cuda’. This was the first impressionable “money moment that mattered” in our relationship. We can laugh about it now.
There’s also the money moment with the star that topped our first Christmas tree in 1996. We cut it from a manila folder, and wrapped it in aluminum foil. Every year we pull it out of the ornament box, straighten its bent edges and laugh about rolling loose change on the den floor that winter. $78 in coins bought a lot of groceries that weekend.
Our most enduring money moment that matters is the “social contract.” We cannot spend more than $x without alerting the other person to the expenditure. This ‘contract’ went into place after a certain someone overdrew the checking account buying Guitar Hero years back. The spending threshold has evolved over time, but the courtesy behind the principle still applies.
Research shows financial stressors cause relationship quality to suffer as we resort to negative communication patterns. This finding is a little no-duh, I know, but Psychology Today research as recent as November 2020 reminds us to be extra alert to our words and tone as we work through financial stress imposed by the pandemic.
What money moments that matter in your relationship are you counting on in 2021?