How 'money shame' can affect your mind, body and marriage

Credit card debt. Lack of savings. Bad credit. These are all major factors when it comes to money shame, shame you feel in your bank account as well as your body.

“The experience of money shame is this internal sense that I’m not good enough,” says Ed Coambs, a financial therapist with Carolinas Couples Counseling in Matthews. “And a number of different topics can evoke this money shame.”

Coambs started off as a financial planner but quickly realized his clients’ challenges went deeper than just learning to budget.

“I felt a lot of frustration because I would give recommendation and guidance and people wouldn’t act on it. And I’m thinking I’m giving them good information, why won’t they do it? And what I now appreciate as a financial therapist is that people are immensely more complex than I realized.”

He says every couple should realize one thing.

“Each person has a money story, they have some good experiences around money and some less than desirable or not good memories around money.”

And when two people fall in love, their money stories collide, at times creating problems and leading to fights. If one person has a lot of debt and their partner has no idea, the outcome could be devastating, says Ed.

“There’s going to be a lot of shock. Its going to feel like financial infidelity in which you’ve been leading this secret life and once it becomes disclosed what you’ve been doing, the expectations that this other partner has had are going to crumble.”

That’s why sometimes partners keep financial secrets. Secrets that could doom the relationship.

“They’re afraid to tell the truth because they’re already feeling rejected, that internal sense of being rejected,” says Ed “and so they’re afraid that if they’re really honest with my partner where I’m at, that they’re actually going to get more rejection.”

Ed says the key is to come clean, to take a risk and trust your partner to walk this tough journey together. When both partners commit to doing that, their chances of marital happiness are much higher.

“People can heal. Absolutely that’s one of the greatest joys of my work is being able to help them slowly unravel what’s brought them to the place they’re at and find new and constructive ways of relating to themselves, and relating to their partner.”

Turning financial infidelity into intimacy and becoming stronger together. 

For more information on financial counseling for couples, click here