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Premarital Counseling: Set Your Marriage Up For Success

Premarital Counseling: Set Your Marriage Up For Success

Premarital Counseling: Set Your Marriage Up For Success

On The Fence About Premarital Counseling?

Wedding season is upon us, so I thought it would be a good idea to talk about the benefits of premarital counseling, and why so many marriage counselors and couples believe it’s such a good investment for a relationship. Here are some FAQs that couples often have when deciding if premarital counseling is right for them:

We have a great relationship and don’t have any issues. How can premarital counseling help us?

Even the best relationships could use improvements in conflict resolution and communication. There may be “blind spots” that you’re unaware of that could potentially become an issue later on in your relationship. Premarital counseling allows couples to be proactive about these issues before they even arise.

How does premarital counseling differ from couples therapy?

In general, premarital counseling is much more structured than traditional couples therapy, particularly if you do a structured premarital program or a premarital class. Many couples enter into premarital counseling without an agenda, or unsure of even what to talk about. An experienced marriage therapist will be able to structure sessions around topics that are common issues that couples tend to come to marriage counseling for later. Typically, premarital counseling is less in depth than couples therapy.

What can I expect in a typical session?

Sessions can be as structured as needed, depending upon the couple. Some couples come into premarital counseling already with an idea of what they would like to focus on, while others enter into the process without an agenda. Premarital counseling can be effective in both of these situations. A good therapist will tailor your sessions to your unique needs.

How many sessions do you recommend?

I’ve found the average number of sessions for premarital couples to be 5-7; sometimes more, sometimes less. This totally depends on what couples would like to focus on, and how in depth they’d like to go.

There is a lot of information and talking points that we’ve found on the internet on what to talk about before getting married. Why should I pay for premarital counseling?

Private coaching or therapy gives couples the opportunity to focus on the unique needs of their relationship, and to practice new ways of interacting with each other. Additionally, having an objective marriage expert by your side could help you prevent some pitfalls that you may not even be aware of.

Many couples find it helpful to develop a relationship with a therapist so that they can easily come in for maintenance. Similar to finding a good mechanic for your car, having a trusted person to go to for a “tune up” of your relationship is a great benefit.

More questions about pre-marital counseling? We have answers…

What to expect in premarital counseling?

How much does premarital counseling cost?

Can we do premarital counseling online?

Is premarital counseling really necessary?

I hope this information about pre-marital counseling helps you both decide if it’s the right decision for you!

xo, Lisa Marie Bobby

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Let’s  Talk

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The Power Of Connection

The Power Of Connection

The Power Of Connection

You Were Built To Bond

So many of us, around this time of year, are working on achieving important personal goals. Many times, our hopes are to rid ourselves of bad habits, unhealthy attachments, and to cultivate positive, energizing new practices, relationships, and lifestyle changes. All to the good… but, as you know if you’ve ever tried, easier said than done.

People can get very upset with themselves when they “fail” to quickly and easily break their bonds to unhelpful behaviors and habits. They shame themselves, feel bad about themselves and can start to feel very discouraged. This is not only not helpful, it’s also based on entirely incorrect assumptions: That making a decision to change, to stop doing something, or start doing another should easily and effortlessly lead to change itself.

Not. True.

One of the key ideas that can completely transform the way you think about changing anything is to consider unhelpful habits or non-ideal practices as things that are currently serving an important purpose in your life — whether you like it or not. Everything we do is, on some level, in service of our core needs.

For example, You have legitimate needs for comfort, for safety, for soothing, and for connection. If you have a bad habit that you’re finding hard to shake, it’s very likely that habit is fulfilling a basic need. Understanding that everything, even behaviors and habits that seem on the surface to be unhelpful or even unhealthy are serving an important purpose for you can open the door to a new, compassionate way of understanding why you do what you do… as well as point the way towards a different, more effective path of growth and change.

Consider this idea: What emerging research into neuroscience is pointing to is the fact that human beings are hardwired to BOND. Ideally, we bond to healthy people and have satisfying relationships. But we can also bond to other things, like gratifying behaviors, substances of abuse, and unhealthy relationships. Your brain is actually built that way! It can be diabolically easy to become bonded to something that’s basically a placeholder for what you really need: safety, security, soothing, love, and connection. (Looking at you, emotional eating!)

By understanding your authentic, deep needs for comfort, emotional safety and connection, you can begin to release unhelpful bonds to behaviors that — while they may meet your needs — are doing so in a “non ideal way.” From this place of enlightenment, self-awareness, and empowerment you can then intentionally create healthy new bonds to things, behaviors and people who energize and nourish you.

The Power of Connection

A leading expert in these new ideas is Jennifer Nicholaisen. Jennifer is the executive director of an addiction treatment center called Seek Healing. She and her colleagues view these emerging ideas about human connection, the power of bonding, and the basic need for emotional safety as THE healing force behind substance abuse recovery. They view the process of addiction recovery as one of breaking unhealthy old bonds (to substances), and establishing healthy new ones to emotionally safe people. Participants in her compassionate program learn how to create healthy connections with other people — connections that feel so powerful that their previous bonds to substances are able to be released.

It’s powerful stuff. And today, Jennifer is with me on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast to share her insights with YOU about how you, too, can intentionally cultivate healthy bonds and use the power of connection to create healing and health in your own life.

I hope you listen to this very special episode, and that it provides you with a helpful new perspective for understanding yourself and others.

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

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Relationship Advice: Listener's Relationship Questions, Answered

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Let’s  Talk

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How to Harness a Strengths-Based Approach to Reach Your Goals in the New Year

How to Harness a Strengths-Based Approach to Reach Your Goals in the New Year

How to Harness a Strengths-Based Approach to Reach Your Goals in the New Year

Using The Strengths-Based Approach

The start of a new year can be full of hope and promise, and the idea of starting over — particularly in a new decade — can fill some with excitement and others with dread. If you’ve ever experienced the act of overpromising to yourself and underdelivering on your goals, you’re certainly not alone.

While New Year’s resolutions are intended to motivate us and improve our lives, they can also make us focus on all the things we are not. Let’s face it, eating healthier, losing 15 pounds, joining a book club, going back to school, and having a REAL savings account (Hello new home, 2025!) sure sounds exciting but how do you actually do it all? Is it even possible to start chasing after new goals with your already busy work/social/family life schedule?

The thing is, we often wait and wait and wait to get started on our goals or give up early on our New Year’s resolutions because we get lost focusing on what we consider to be our “downfalls”. We hinder our progress before even starting. 

I have some good news for you today. This year, 2020, is YOUR year. Here’s why! In my work as a life coach and individual therapist, I like to take a Strengths-Based Approach to help my clients reach their personal goals and I’m sharing it with you today! In this article I am going to be talking about:

  1. What is the Strengths-Based Approach?
  2. Why is the Strengths-Based Approach successful time and time again?
  3. Who is the Strengths-Based Approach For (hint: YOU! And here’s why…)?
  4. How you can start using the Strengths-Based Approach today, and practical tips for getting started!

Everything You Need To Know About The Strengths-Based Approach

What is the Strengths-Based Approach?

Focusing on one’s strengths falls under the Positive Psychology umbrella, and essentially entails focusing on your internal strengths and resourcefulness. This inherently begins building a more positive mindset and can help increase resilience.

How often do you sit and think of your positive qualities? In the hustle and bustle of daily life, my guess is…NEVER. Our brains are wired to watch out for danger and to identify patterns, and our brains tend to pay more attention to negative information than positive information. We might not notice every time we do something successfully, but we sure do notice if we mess up. 

Many people might feel like focusing on your good qualities is being self-centered or arrogant, but I’m going to call BS on that one. It is extremely important to be able to articulate what we like about ourselves. This is a key component of self-worth and self-love, and is something we are pushed to think about as children but not as much as adults. 

Here is where the Strength-Based Approach comes into play. Thinking about our strengths involves considering what we are good at or what is already going well in our lives.

I like using a Strengths-Based Approach with my coaching and therapy clients because it starts a dialogue around how we feel about ourselves and our self-esteem. If you find yourself struggling to think of anything you do well or like about yourself, this is a huge indication that your self-esteem is in need of a tune-up. Focusing on the positive aspects of ourselves has the potential to be transformational, starting with how we feel about ourselves. 

Why is the Strengths-Based Approach Successful Time and Time Again?

When we are solely focused on the ‘problem’ or what we want to change, we can self-sabotage ourselves by failing to recognize what we are already good at, and how that can help us! 

Every time we remind ourselves of our good qualities and the ways we feel we excel, we get a little boost of those feel-good hormones and brain reactions. It sounds simple, but it’s true. Being positive and focusing on the good can make us happier. Focusing on what is going wrong or on our negative qualities can make change seem impossible and overwhelming. Instead, start focusing on your inner strengths, resourcefulness, and resilience. This way of thinking can create hope and confidence to push on, especially when the going gets tough. Another reason the Strengths-Based Approach is successful is because it can generate long-standing change in how you think about yourself, others, and life events. Looking for the positives and strengths within yourself and others turns into a habit, and eventually won’t need conscious effort.

Focusing on your strengths is about cultivating a positive mindset, and recognizing the resources and resilience you already possess within. Honing in on what you do well can open up possibilities and new strategies that may never have occurred to you if you’re steeped in ‘the problem’, and can open your mind to creative new solutions to try.

Creating a more positive mindset can empower you to push through the difficult times, and even increase your confidence. This occurs as a key part of the Strengths-Based Approach in the idea of resilience, or being able to “bounce back” from difficult times. Resilience also includes being able to overcome obstacles and cope with them, and realizing your own resilience that you possess is extremely powerful. 

You might not believe that you are a resilient person, but you absolutely are and I have proof! You have survived and made it through the difficulties of life thus far. You are here. Now take a moment to reflect on how you did that. Were you able to handle stress well to see a problem through? Were you able to access resources or help from family and friends? Maybe it was your drive and determination that helped you get through those long hours at work and school without giving up. Either way, this aspect of your strengths is essential for building up self-esteem and confidence.

Utilizing your strengths can better connect you to your identity and remind you of who you are, while also building up your self-worth. 

Realizing your self-worth and recognizing your strengths helps your relationships too, such as through enforcing boundaries when needed and helping others realize their strengths as well.

Who is the Strengths-Based Approach For (hint: YOU! And here’s why…)?

Whether your goal is to create healthier habits, improve your relationships, or move up in your job, your strengths can help you get there! No matter the goal and even if your strengths don’t seem related to it, it is all connected and the common denominator here is you.

Since a common New Year’s resolution is weight loss, let’s use that as an example to see how this approach works. If someone feels that a strength of theirs is being kind, we can use that to help them be successful in their weight loss goals. I know what you’re thinking, how can being nice or kind help someone lose weight? Well first, what is being kind? A part of it is being nice, but other parts of kindness might be being considerate, thoughtful, and supportive. 

Instead of using negative self-talk to bully oneself into not eating certain foods or using other “punishing” tactics, why not use kindness to lift yourself up? Kindness in this scenario might be giving yourself grace or compassion if you slip up, but also setting yourself up for success through creating realistic expectations for yourself

Setting yourself up for success might be meal planning for the week, preparing healthy meals or snacks before the work week starts, and going to bed at a reasonable time so you have energy to exercise. You wouldn’t expect someone to jump into a new task without proper preparation and do it perfectly, so why put that on yourself?

Kindness might be having daily mantras of gratitude for how hard our body works and what it does for us every day, and letting that guide our thoughts and behaviors rather than focusing on what our body isn’t or what we want it to be. Kindness could be changing our view on food and nourishment, and wanting to be kind to our bodies through nourishing it with the food it needs and is good for us. 

How you can start using the Strengths-Based Approach today, and practical tips for getting started!

Okay dear reader, here is my advice to you on how to get started harnessing your strengths for success in the New Year! 

Start by sitting with a notepad and paper, and really think a minute about the things you love and value about yourself. Think about the things that have helped you in life thus far, what you think is a strength and sets you apart from others. Write these things down, and then also write out a goal. If you have multiple goals, do one at a time so as not to overwhelm yourself. 

Now look at your strengths and goal together and see where there is overlap, and put your creative thinking cap on to see how you can use your strengths to help you reach that goal! 

If one of your strengths is being friendly and you want to advance in your career, consider reaching out to a mentor or supervisor about grabbing lunch or offer to buy them a coffee to pick their brain about an idea you have. Connect with this person and tell them about your goal, and how you would appreciate some extra support from them in that. I think you see where I am going with this, and the goal and strength combos could be endless. Don’t be afraid to be creative, as you possess the tools and power to create the life that you want! 

Five Practical Tips to the Strengths-Based Approach

#1 Make a gratitude list of things you are grateful for about yourself

#2 Start practicing self-compassion

#3 Set yourself up for success: create a plan, write it down, and leave it somewhere you can see it

#4 Create realistic expectations

#5 When you slip up (yes I said when, because it is only a matter of time before we slip up or miss a goal and that is OKAY people) do not engage in negative self-talk, and remember all the things you successfully did that day or week. There will be times we slip up, the point is to not let that make us give up but to keep going.

Here’s to a happy and successful new year!
Josephine Marin M.S., MFTC

 

 

Josephine Marin, M.S., MFTC is a warm, kind, and direct therapist and couples counselor who specializes in communication, compassion and connection. She can help you reach your goals and create positive change in yourself and your relationships.

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Create Your Ten Year Plan

Create Your Ten Year Plan

Create Your Ten Year Plan

What Does YOUR Future Hold?

“People overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten.”

— Bill Gates

Create Your Ten Year Plan

Have you ever thought to yourself, “What’s my TEN year plan?” It can be difficult to think about your life and your goals on such a long timeline, but it’s important to consider where you want to go, so that you can take positive action to make it happen. It’s incredibly powerful too: You can do SO MUCH in the next ten years.

Truthfully, creating incredible (like, jaw-droppingly amazing) kinds of BIG changes are practically inevitable when you are running a long-game life plan. Things will certainly be different for you ten years from now. But only YOU have the power to guide the arc of change in the direction you want it to go. 

You Have The Power To Create Your Future

Life paths tend to go in one of two directions: Towards growth, which requires cultivation and intention. Or, in the absence of that, the path of least resistance leads to carry us downward, over time. If you’re not paying attention, as many extremely wise people before me have observed, things tend towards “entropy,” (aka, disorder and chaos) unless we’re deliberately putting energy into them. (Stop doing your laundry for a few weeks if you’d like to test my theory for yourself!)

That’s a short term example though. Think about what happens to a home that’s not maintained, or a relationship that’s chronically neglected, or the personal finances of someone who never saves money… over very long periods of time. It’s not good.

It’s very easy to unintentionally create those types of outcomes, through doing what is easiest to do, which is:

  1. Not thinking about what we really want, long term.
  2. Not having awareness about the negative impact of some of our daily decisions on our long term goals.
  3. Not having clarity about what, specifically, we need to invest our time and energy in to get there.

That’s the effortless path. The path towards growth, advancement and success can also be surprisingly easy to do, but only if you know the critical keys to success.

The Keys To Success: Clarity + Action

The key to achieving real and lasting success in life, in love, and in work is to understand that small things, over time, lead to big things. Understanding that basic principle and working with it, will allow you to achieve amazing things with much less effort than you might think.

This type of practice is even more powerful when it is done in alignment with your core values and your full awareness of what is really and truly most important to you. That may sound obvious but take it from an experienced life coach and therapist: A lot of people are spending a lot of time and energy attempting to achieve goals that — upon deeper exploration — are not genuinely meaningful and important to them. (Please see “Design Your Life Around What Matters Most” for more on this subject.)

Knowing who you are, what is most important to you, and what you really want is only the first step though. Then, you have to pay close attention to what you do. 

Your life — ALL of our lives — are absolutely filled with those teeny-tiny moments that will either carry us towards our ideal future, or away from it. If you’re clear about where you want to go and you have clarity about what you need to do (and NOT do) to create that, you’re empowered to actively create your future reality.

My Ten Year Plan Tool: Free, Easy, and YOURS

To assist you in getting the clarity you need about where you want to go, what types of activities will take you there (as well as clarity about what will pull you off your happy path) I have created something special for you: a free planning tool called “My Ten Year Plan.” Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Listen to the “How to Create Your Ten Year Plan” episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast (player is below) to cultivate a long-game, growth-oriented mindset and learn how to use the ten year planning tool.

Step 2: Sign up (above or below)  to allow me to send you:

  • Our free, online Ten Year Plan tool that you can use on your phone, tablet or computer.
  • Or, if you’re a paper-person, access to our free, downloadable pdf worksheet that you can print out and use to create your plan.

Step 3: Walk through the “My Ten Year Plan” activity!

You’ll be prompted to answer thought provoking questions to help you:

  • Uncover your most important values
  • Develop appreciation for how powerful you are
  • Understand your most significant strengths and growth opportunities
  • Get clarity about what you want for your future
  • Create an action plan to create your ideal reality… ten years from now.

I sincerely hope that this Ten Year Plan activity empowers you make your life — ten years from now — exactly what you want it to be.

Your partner in growth,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

How to Create Your Ten Year Plan

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Citay, “On The Wings”

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Enjoy This Episode? Please Rate, Review & SHARE the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Let’s  Talk

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How to Build Trust Around Finances In Your Relationship

Here at Growing Self we often do financial counseling for couples with people seeking to get on the same page around money. Let’s face it: money is a loaded topic. From our younger years, we are taught that finances are not a polite dinner-time conversation. It’s poor etiquette to bring up your salary, your expenses, your debt, and your money goals even among your closest relations. Why is this?

Our personal finances often influence how we feel about ourselves. They can have a huge impact on how much freedom, power, security, and comfort we experience in our day-to-day lives. 

Finances impact our significant life and relationship milestones, like getting married, having a baby, or buying a house, and can also figure heavily into big decisions like pursuing education, addressing medical needs, and planning for retirement.  

Money, more than almost any other topic about which couples fight, directly bears on survival (some researchers have even noted that fights about money are more likely to end a relationship than fights around other topics).

In my experience as a couples therapist and relationship coach, there are several reasons why couples struggle to address their money woes both individually and as a team. Today I want to provide you with easy to incorporate tips on how to talk about the taboo topic of money with your partner.

Why Is Money Such An Uncomfortable Topic For Couples?

Most of us were taught early on that sharing financial specifics is rude, and clients have sometimes told me that talking about money makes them feel embarrassed or “exposed.” If you feel this way too, you’re not alone.

For those who are in a budding new relationship, talking about money may not be necessary. Then, when you get to the point in your relationship that it feels like the right time to start addressing this topic, it can feel so foreign and surreal that you just keep pushing it off.

Because expectations around sharing and transparency are unclear, couples are left asking lots of questions without any clear blueprint for the “right” way to proceed.  

Do we combine our finances, or keep separate accounts? 

And if we are going to combine them, when do we do that? When we move in? 

When we get engaged? When we get married? 

How much influence should we have over each other’s spending?

Do I have a right to know where my partner’s money is going?

The discomfort goes both ways. For those who have been successful with their finances, they may feel rude bringing it up (almost as if boasting their money success), even though they have worked hard to get to where they are, practiced self-control, and self-discipline with their money habits.

For those who feel less than successful with their finances, they may feel shame or regret around their finances and they don’t want to bring that into their relationship with their partner. Talking about finances is emotional. Telling your partner about a large accumulation of debt may feel shameful.

You may be fearful of how your partner may view your spending or saving habits, or worry that entering a discussion about finances will end in a fight. The way you manage your money reflects your values, and when partners criticize these choices in one another, it can feel uniquely threatening.

When To Discuss Finances As A Couple

Many of the  couples who come to me to find clarity around discussing their finances are at a loss for how to move forward. They have already exhausted the topic, fought over whose approach is better for the relationship, and have often felt unheard by their partner (or have experienced broken trust surrounding finances within the relationship).

You don’t have to wait until you get to that point. In fact, the earlier you start talking about finances, the easier it will be to create a plan together moving forward.

How Do I Bring The “Money Talk” Up In My Relationship?

Start by checking in with yourself. Getting an accurate and up-to-date sense of where your money is going on a regular basis will allow for you to approach the topic with confidence. 

Take stock of bills and scheduled payments, debt (including any student loans, a mortgage, and credit card debt), regular monthly expenses (like gas, groceries, etc.), and any miscellaneous spending (think: eating out, travel costs, buying Christmas presents, and so on). 

If you’re a little on the budget-avoidant side of the spectrum, it can be helpful to take your own financial pulse before raising the issue with your partner. That way you may be better prepared to answer their questions, and you’ll be more aware of whether or not you’re satisfied with your current spending habits. (If you’re already operating from shared accounts, you may be able to skip this step!)

Because finances can be an uncomfortable conversation (at first–it gets easier!) I recommend that you schedule a time to meet with your partner in a neutral zone – whether that’s at home, at a coffee shop, or maybe even out on a walk. Don’t spring the conversation on your partner in the middle of a romantic dinner, around friends, during work, or at your family reunion (although I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this!).

Financial Conversations Every Couple Should Have

You already know where you stand financially (hooray for finishing step one!), and maybe you now have a better sense of where you want to be. So, begin the conversation by sharing these details with your partner: be honest and transparent about where you are, and describe where you ultimately want to be financially as a couple.

Once you’ve shared, allow your partner to weigh in. If this conversation comes as a surprise to them, don’t expect them to have all their answers or point-of-view laid out clearly right away. They may need some time to think about what you’ve shared and to take stock of their own financial situation.

While you have this ongoing conversation with your partner, share your goals and listen respectfully to theirs (no matter how different they are from yours). Maintaining an open, nonjudgmental stance is the best way to keep the conversation from shutting down or spiraling into conflict.

Expectations From Financial Conversations As A Couple

Beginning this conversation will allow the two of you to set expectations around your money. The whole point of this conversation is to build trust, awareness, and success in your relationship and in your finances.

This conversation should lead you toward shared goals, an idea of what your future looks like, what you can each expect out of your current employment status, what changes you need to implement, and how you can achieve your financial and lifestyle goals over the next one, five, ten, or even fifty years.

Three Tips To Successful Communication Around Finances

Respecting your partner will be what gets you through any difficult conversation, especially when the conversation has to do with something as life-altering as money.

If there are large disagreements, try talking about the meaning behind your position and asking about what your partner’s position means to them. Example: having a higher eating-out and entertainment budget might be your way of prioritizing community and friendships, while saving that money might be your partner’s way of feeling secure in the face of potential future emergencies.

Here are three tips for successful money talks.

Be Patient

As discussed earlier, this is not a one-time-over-morning-coffee discussion. It’s an ongoing conversation that you may need to have weekly, or at the very least once a month. The more time and effort you put into discussing and implementing change in your finances as a team, the more successful you will be. It takes time, and that’s okay.

Be Realistic

Change is not going to happen overnight, and you’re not always going to see eye-to-eye but if you’re realistic with yourself, your partner, and with your bank balance, your relationship will have a better chance of moving forward at a manageable pace towards your goals.

Be Compassionate

Above all, be compassionate. People mess up. Have grace both for yourself and for your partner. Recognize that new habits take time to build, and that you probably won’t have everything figured out in your first month (or year) budgeting together. And guess what? That’s okay too.

Final Thoughts…

Do What’s Right For YOUR Relationship

There’s more than one way of handling your finances. If you are having trouble finding the right method for your relationship, maybe speaking with an expert to gain insight into what might work best is the right move for you and your partner. 

Don’t Be Afraid To Try Different Approaches

There is no one right way to talk about money or handle your finances. You don’t have to be a money expert to start making good money moves. Working together as a team is going to be the MOST important step to achieving your financial goals, and to maintaining trust in the relationship.

Avoid Financial Infidelity At All Costs

A good rule of thumb in relationships: the moment you feel an impulse to conceal something, that’s your cue to share it with your partner. Admitting that you made a poor decision is less harmful in the long run than getting caught hiding it.

Here’s to your financial success together!
Amanda Schaeffer, M.S., MFTC

P.S. Do you have any conversational tips to share about building trust around finances in your relationship? Share with us in the comments section below!

Amanda Schaeffer, M.S., MFTC is a marriage counselor, family therapist, life coach and individual therapist who creates a warm, safe environment, bringing out the best in you and your relationships. She empowers couples and individuals to heal and grow using evidence-based approaches that create real results and lasting change.

Let’s  Talk

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You Deserve Compassionate Support

As a therapist, life coach, and marriage counselor, I admire each and every person who gathers the courage to schedule an appointment with me and seek support for themselves, their relationships, or their families. I know that they’re investing in themselves because they believe they are worthy of investing in. Such self-awareness, wisdom and healthy self-love is always inspiring.

Do You Prioritize Everything Except Yourself?

Too many people put themselves on the bottom of the heap, investing in every other aspect of their lives — their education, their career, their children, their friendships, their homes — but rarely their own personal wellness, or their hearts desire. Is this you?

If so, you probably put off investing in yourself, getting professional help, and taking positive action to improve your life… though you’re there for everyone else. You may think about it sometimes but quickly talk yourself out of it, minimize your feelings, or prioritize someone else’s needs

If this sounds familiar, my guess is that you would describe yourself as a naturally strong person, but the downside of “being strong” is that sometimes it comes with a price: Not taking care of you, the way you take care of others.

But it’s easy not to take care of you, isn’t it? Especially when it comes to things like getting involved in therapy, couples counseling or life coaching. There are so many persistent myths in our culture about all the reasons NOT to get support, and it’s time to bash them! 

What’s Keeping YOU From Investing In Yourself?

Let’s talk through some of the most common reasons I hear for why people avoid getting help and investing in themselves, and why they’re not true!

Myth #1: “Therapy should be reserved for times when you really need it, and I don’t have it ‘that bad.'” 

This is one I hear frequently, even when people have resolved to book a therapy or coaching appointment with me. 

Believe it or not, even people in a lot of pain sometimes feel guilty for doing something to help themselves. They tell me about challenges they face, or hard things they’re grappling with but then quickly say, “But so many others around the world have it so much worse. I’m really so lucky.” 

While being grateful and keeping things in perspective is a wonderful strength to have, it’s also a liability if it makes you feel like you don’t have a right to your feelings, or can’t feel sad, angry or hurt about something true for you. 

As a feminist-oriented therapist, I am always happy to have a conversation about power and privilege, and I firmly believe that we are all worthy of healing and belonging. 

If there is something in your life that feels painful or difficult to overcome, my hope for you is to feel like you deserve to be supported just as much as anyone else. 

If you feel guilty when you think about making your feelings a priority, think about it this way: investing in yourself as a way to make yourself even stronger, and more able to give empathy and compassion to other people. 

Truth: Your experience and your emotions matter. YOU matter. 

Myth #2: Therapy is for couples who are on the brink of ending their relationship or divorcing. We aren’t there yet, we can fix this on our own. 

Too many couples buy into this. 

Perhaps conflict in your relationship occurs fairly infrequently currently, yet when it does occur you notice that you and your partner tend to sweep things under the rug and avoid addressing the conflict. You might write this off to a one-time thing, or feel that because it’s infrequent, it won’t matter in the long run. 

However, each time we sweep conflict under the rug or avoid it all together, we are slowly solidifying the pattern of our relationship. This pattern makes it not only more likely that conflict will become more frequent, but potentially also increasingly eruptive and ultimately, more damaging to your bond over time. 

If you happen to notice early in your relationship that you and your partner are conflict avoidant, talk about reaching out to a therapist or a relationship coach so that you can identify effective ways to face conflict together and strengthen your bond and understanding of each other.

Myth #3: If we go to couples counseling we are admitting that our relationship is unhealthy. 

We know from marriage and family researchers Drs. John and Julie Gottman that conflict is inevitable in every relationship. What separates “healthy” couples from “unhealthy” couples is what they DO with it. 

The healthiest, happiest, strongest couples are the ones who openly address their differences and find ways of proactively, constructively working through things together. Couples who do this important growth work strengthen their relationships. Couples who seek support for their relationship, and who are open to learning how to communicate and compromise will have more positive outcomes. Investing in their relationships sets them up for success long-term.

Couples who avoid this work, or who allow unresolved conflict to simmer, fester, and become increasingly toxic are inadvertently damaging their relationship. By sweeping things under the rug and not getting help for their relationship, they are increasing the likelihood that their relationship will fail. 

Furthermore, research into couples and family therapy shows that the couples who choose to work together on their relationship sooner rather than later have better outcomes. Any marriage counselor will tell you that it’s much easier to work with a couple who still like, love, and trust each other. 

Couples who wait, ignore problems, and let anger and resentment build up often enter couples counseling on the brink of divorce. There is so much regrettable history between them, so much hurt, and so much damage done that — even with the best marriage counseling — sometimes their relationship is simply too far gone to repair. 

Investing in your marriage sooner rather than later is like taking care of your health: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Myth #4: I’m too busy, whatever I’m dealing with can wait, it will be too expensive, and / or there just isn’t any time. 

When I was in graduate school a common phrase we heard was “What we resist, persists,” and the more I sit with couples and individuals in my office, the more I find this to be true. 

I frequently meet with those that have been “avoiding” therapy by placing it lower and lower on their list of priorities and by the time they’re in my office, they are overwhelmed and exhausted from carrying their distress for so long. 

Often times, these are the individuals who spend a great deal of time taking care of others and rarely make time for themselves or their own needs. Or they are couples with children and stressful careers and aging parents who truly can’t fathom stepping away for an hour for fear of everything falling apart.

Or sometimes people put this off because they’re worried about how much therapy, life coaching or marriage counseling will cost…. Without considering the value investing in themselves will bring to their lives. They’ll spend money on furniture, vacations, or home improvement projects without much thought. But when it comes to investing in their own health and happiness, their success, or in their most cherished relationships… they stop themselves. 

One way to shift this self-limiting perspective is to think about this from the other side. Asking yourself questions like: 

  • “What is the cost of me NOT investing in myself?”
  • “What is the real price of me continuing to feel unhappy, or dissatisfied with my life?”
  •  “What am I losing, long term, by NOT investing in myself, or in my career, or in my marriage?”
  • “How is neglecting myself, my happiness and my relationship impacting my children?”
  • “How is the way I’m currently living impacting my health?”
  •  How much will it cost me — in dollars and cents — if we get divorced, or I never achieve my full earning potential in my career?”

When you put the short-term investment in yourself in context of the costs or benefits to aspects of your life that are genuinely priceless… it changes your perspective.

You Deserve Love, Happiness and Success

I want you to know that I see you, and that your well-being and happiness matters just as much as anyone else’s. You deserve space to cultivate growth and healing; you deserve time to rest and reset. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and you don’t have to carry this alone.   

 If you see yourself or your relationship in any of the myths above, my hope for you would be to spend some time reflecting on what is keeping you from this work. 

Remember though, whenever you are working with a coach or a therapist, you aren’t in this work alone. Are there other myths or beliefs you have that keep you from reaching out for support? Comment below and let’s continue this conversation!

Brittany Stewart, M.A., LMFT-C is a couples counselor, individual therapist, premarital counselor, and a life and relationship coach. She works with her clients to build connected relationships, restore emotional bonds, and grow in their capacity to love others as well as themselves.

Let’s  Talk

Read More by Brittany Below!

Amanda Schaeffer, Happiness, Self Improvement / Personal Growth, Success, Amanda Schaeffer

Financial Counseling For Couples

Why is money such an uncomfortable topic? How do you have a conversation around finances with your partner? When should you start talking about money in a relationship? Relationship coach and marriage therapist, Amanda Schaeffer, M.S., MFTC answers these questions and shares her top financial counseling tips for couples in this article on the Love, Happiness and Success blog!

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching
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