Ladies, imagine that it’s during the holidays and your old refrigerator is about to break. You find a one-day-only flash sale for a fridge at a fantastic price—but your husband says he needs to think about it.
What goes through your mind? If you’re like many women, you’re not only frustrated. By being indecisive, your husband is risking spoiling food and possibly missing out on a great sale for a new fridge. You find yourself distracted during the day, constantly worried about whether the fridge will last.
Men, imagine that tomorrow you’re in the middle of paying some unexpected, large, medical bills, and your wife walks in with a new outfit. She happily announces, “It was on sale! It’ll be perfect for vacation. What do you think?”
What goes through your mind? If you’re like many men, you feel a roiling in your gut as you automatically tally up the cost of the medical bills, vacation and outfit.
Even if you know that your wife wouldn’t intentionally spend beyond your budget. You feel a sense of pressure as you wonder whether you have what it takes to provide for your family.
What goes through your mind in those little scenarios is what Jeff and I have begun studying for our next major research project on what is underneath our responses to money in relationships? Because when there is conflict or irritation, we know it isn’t about the money.
It’s Not About The Money
Our previous research for For Women Only and For Men Only identified crucial things we need to know about each other as men and women—and those differences impact our responses to money as well.
So we’ve created a brand-new video experience for couples, called Men, Women, & Money. Done in a Master Class format, this experience helps men and women understand what is really going on under the surface and use that understanding to prevent and solve money misunderstandings and issues. Once we have those “aha moments” about each other, we don’t have to have those frustrations ever again!
Because here’s the thing—that argument you and your spouse get into about buying this or saving that? It’s not about the money.
It’s about all that stuff under the surface, regardless of who the “spender” or the “saver” is in the relationship. (Which, by the way, does not appear to be gender related.)
So what is going on under the surface?
Husbands: Here’s What Might Really Be Going On
Men, here’s what might be going on in that situation with your wife’s new outfit. In our research, it was clear that most women have a deep question about whether they are beautiful, special and “worth something.”
For many women (not all, of course), “retail therapy” and buying that cute new outfit serves several purposes. Your wife wants to feel “new” and special and beautiful. She wants to know that you think she is beautiful, too. That new purchase temporarily fills that need. It is a counterfeit “filling” of course, but it feels good nonetheless.
She is also hoping that you will light up and tell her that she looks beautiful. And that by your manner you signal yes, this cost money, but you are worth it.
Wives: Here’s What Might Really Be Going On
Wives, when he says he wants to “think about” buying a new fridge versus waiting and taking the risk with the old one, it’s not because he is indecisive or doesn’t care. And he doesn’t want you to go through a day of torture. He probably doesn’t even know it is torture!
For most men (although not all), a fairly substantial financial decision simply requires time to think. Where your female brain is more likely to want to think something through by talking it through, his male brain is more likely to require time when he is not talking about it.
He needs to process the decision and understand what he’s thinking. He is intending to come back to you in some reasonable period of time, because he understands that there’s a limit on that sale, too!
The Crucial Caveat
Now, here’s a crucial caveat: None of these feelings mean we have to blindly give in to them.
We shouldn’t irresponsibly spend money we don’t have, and we should be mature enough to understand each other and stop knee-jerk reactions that stem from insecurity.
We should be able to talk about money issues without getting defensive or irritated. But we have to understand each other (and ourselves!) first.
Neither of those scenarios demonstrates a lack of love or caring. We’re just very different in many ways. And we respond to money differently based on our wiring.
Hiding beneath that drive-you-nuts behavior is a spouse who wants to please you and love you well. It just takes a little understanding to see it.
Reposted with permission. Read the original article here.
Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn are Harvard-trained social researchers and best-selling authors. Their books, including For Women Only, For Men Only, and The Kindness Challenge , have sold more 3 million copies around the world. Check out their new online courses at SurprisingHope.com. The Feldhahns live in Atlanta with their two kids and two cats who think they are dogs.
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