The state opened up over a year ago. Some people are headed back to work, but the pay doesn’t seem to go nearly as far as it used to go. Food, energy, and housing prices are up. People are falling behind…
Bill collectors are going to start calling again.
Maybe you’ve been in good shape all along. Maybe you didn’t lose any time or income. On the other hand maybe you’ve been on unemployment, and you’ve been bringing in more money thanks to the stimulus package and the federally subsidized unemployment compensation package. Yet, another reality may be that you struggled for the whole of the pandemic closures, and it’s just seeming bleaker than before.
Right now I want to focus on crisis communications just a little bit.
For many people speaking about money is taboo. So, imagine how much more it seems the case when there is money trouble! Yet, speaking about money is important, and speaking about money when there are problems, is beyond merely essential! Your whole relationship may rest on how this is handled.
It would be easy and irresponsible of me to say, “Just do it.” As if you could simply sit down and talk about money the way Nike expects you to exercise. But if you don’t, you’ll be sorry.
It’s important to realize that, in general terms, men and women see money and money challenges differently. Men have been programmed to be the provider, and so they tend to see their pay stubs and checkbooks as they might their report card from school or, if he was an athlete, as a score card. Women, again in gross generalities, tend to look at the security aspect, asking, “Are we going to be alright?”
As a result it’s important, as we begin to consider how to speak about money, to realize the messages the other is going to hear and to consider what someone needs to hear. This, I will be addressing in my next post, You’re more than your paycheck. So, how then should we do this? What are some good things to do to effectively communicate in times of financial crisis.
- MEET: Set up a meeting time and place, perhaps not at home, but in a neutral, public place. This may help with keeping emotions in check.
- SHARE: One person should speak fully and completely, and then allow the other to do the same. This is also the time to ask questions.
- BE HONEST: Be honest and open. Believe me your husband, your wife, your partner does not want to see you fail. Those who love you can only help you if they know that the problem is. It is also OK not to know all the answers. You may not have them. You may need to do some checking, some looking back, some research, or you may need help!
- HELP HIM SEE: Understand that when there is an income issue, men tend to see themselves as failing, and feel embarrassed and ashamed. The joke, “How do you spell dad?” and someone answers “A-T-M,” is really no joke. Try to help him see his worth by talking about all that he brings to the home and family.
- HELP HER SEE: Understand that when money problems arise, she’s concerned about security and welfare. So when money’s tight, she worries about how things will be paid… not by whom, but how. Together you may be able to work a lot of this out.
- ACKNOWLEDGE FEELINGS: Acknowledge the emotions underlying the situation and be supportive of each other. Feelings are not wrong, and what matters is what is done with them. If they are used to push people away or to justify running away, that’s an issue. We want them to be the motivation to fix things.
- BE GRATEFUL: Even in the midst of chaos, there is good around if you stop to look for it. Perhaps making a list of the good things, blessings, will help you turn the corner!
- DARE TO DREAM: The best way to work out of a crisis and to move forward is to have a dream, build hope, and then set some goals that will help you move forward. A crisis is but for a season, and it can help you move to a much better place!
- SET GOALS: You can’t get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going. Part of your dreaming is to set goals. Some should be long-term (dreams), but others need to be much more immediate, perhaps, that means what am I going to tomorrow, and what are will we have accomplished in a week, a month, three months?
- CHART SUCCESSES and LEARN from MISSES: As you go through this process, the meeting must be consistent. And as you go, make sure that you take a moment to celebrate the successes. If not you’ll lose hope and momentum. If you miss the target, learn from the experience. The only time a miss is a failure is if we don’t learn from it. Otherwise, we simply need to learn how to adjust our aim or perhaps we need to find a different path because the goal was right but the strategy wasn’t.
For some, this process may seem overwhelming or too much. That’s where someone like me, a financial coach may be helpful. Sometimes we can help you see things more clearly, help you communicate or perhaps set reasonable and time-oriented goals.
You may just find that when you start working together, it won’t just be your relationship with money that improves.