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Are You Partnered for Success?

Eliminate the power struggle with effective communication

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Several years ago, I posted an article on my Facebook page about a woman who felt like a guest in her own home because she didn’t bring home a paycheck and instead stayed at home to raise her child. The article is titled “Why I Will Never Live On Another Man's Dime,” and starts with this sobering statement: “For the 8 years that my ex-husband and I were together, I was financially dependent on him.”

In the article, author Laura Lifshitz shares the struggles she faced from a husband who continually devalued her contributions to the household, saying things like, “I pay the bills. It’s my house.”

To her husband, Laura’s efforts mattered little:

“It didn't matter that I was taking care of the house and our child. It didn't matter that I was making a full-force effort to find a good job (applying for jobs, seeking recruiters, utilizing my alumni connections and resources, etc.) and in the meantime working part-time until I found something.

It was his house. I guess I was just merely a guest.”

She goes on to share that these struggles eventually ended in divorce. In the process, she landed what she calls a perfect job that allows for her to provide for herself and her child. In her words, “Now, I have the power. I am broke and struggling, but dammit, I have my two cents and I love it.”

Removing the taboo

Laura’s story is sadly too common. Unfortunately, it’s an issue rarely discussed in the mainstream media, let alone among women themselves.

When Robert and I were first dating, he asked me, “Do you have a problem with being rich?”

I thought to myself, “What a strange question! Who would have a problem with that?”

When I asked Robert why he asked, he went on to explain that many women he’d talked with in the past found it offensive to talk about money, or to be focused on making a lot of money. They thought it was a superficial goal to want to be rich.

The reality is that there are plenty of people who think money isn’t a subject that should be discussed. Even though it’s something we all need and use on a daily basis, it’s a taboo subject that makes most people feel uncomfortable.

Powerful together

Let’s face it, when it comes to money, most women feel woefully behind men. According to CNBC , UBS Global Wealth Management found that almost 60% of women leave crucial financial choices up to their male partners.

Conversely, the study found that when couples work together on long-term money goals, women’s confidence increases, as their knowledge and experience with money grows.

Opt out of the power struggle

There is significant data that shows that at some point in their youth, women lose confidence around money and numbers, even though science shows there’s no difference between men and women’s mathematical capacity (duh!).

It’s the existing stereotypes around girls and numbers, however, that have created a culture of conditioning young women to believe that handling money is a man’s role.

Certainly when one’s husband says that he’s in the position of power, much like Laura’s did by saying, “I pay the bills. It’s my house,” that conditioning continues. It’s often very hard for a woman to break out of this vision of herself set by other men, but it’s essential.

Contrast Laura’s story with the story of Heidi Rasmussen, who, after being laid off from a lucrative VP position, was asked to help her husband start and build a business.

Her husband, Reid, had already left his job as a manager at an insurance agency. His plan was to launch a business in which insurers offered workers discounts on expenses (such as prescriptions and urgent care). He eventually appealed to his wife, Heidi, to utilize her marketing brain, and get the business off the ground.

“I decided to transform the idea into an engaging brand,” she says. ‘It was a total step of faith.’

Together, Heidi and Reid have built a multimillion-dollar business. Most importantly, they’re enjoying the journey together.

Discussing money with your partner

The funny thing is that Robert was really the first person I dated who wanted to discuss the subject of money at length—and to make sure we were on the same page when it came to money.

Chances are, you might not talk a lot about money with your partner, either because you take their views for granted, or because you’re simply uncomfortable doing so.

But I believe that for a relationship to thrive, partners need to be on the same page, or at least understand each other’s pages, when it comes to the major things in life. That includes money!

Questions to ask

If money isn’t something you talk about candidly and openly with your partner, then you may want to make a special date and begin this important conversation.

Here are a few questions the two of you could answer to get started:

  • What did your parents tell you about the subject of money?

  • Did your own thoughts differ from those of your parents?

  • What does money represent to you?

  • What’s your general thought about very rich people?

  • How rich is “very rich” to you?

Sometimes you’ll meet resistance to this subject due to long held beliefs and discomfort with the topic of money. Take it slow and gentle.

Great partners empower each other

All of these revelations, shifts of mindset and difficult conversations are in an effort to pick the right partner- both in business, and in life. As women, we have a choice about who we spend our time and talent on, and a choice about what we’ll believe about ourselves…no matter what anyone, including our spouses, may say.

I’m fortunate. Like Heidi, I have a husband who not only helps me be a better version of myself and encourages me to flourish financially, but with whom I also enjoy building business and investments. And it’s made all the difference in the world.

Today, I encourage you to take a look at your partnerships…and your potential. Are there better horizons for you? Can you be more than you are currently imagining? Can you move from just looking for a job to starting a company that makes millions?

Is your future worth the conversation?

Remember this: by understanding each other’s views, you better understand each other as people. And that’s the key to building a lifelong partnership.

Ready to get started on your journey towards financial freedom? Join our free, financial education community here.

Original publish date: February 19, 2015

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