Money Talks—But Do You Talk Back?

I don’t mean to pry. But honey, I’m worried about your relationship. How are you guys doin’?

Nah, not your relationship with your spouse or partner or BFF. I’m talking about one of the most neglected, conflicted, anxiety-laden relationships in most people’s lives. I’m talking your relationship with money.

woman covered in moneu, maggie mcreynolds blogOur habits and beliefs about money start young. At a tender age, some of us were already hoarders, scrounging for every penny that fell out of dad’s pockets and into the sofa cushions; depositing every gift check; watching, hawk-like, anxious that our bank accounts and piggy banks fill.

And some of us were the polar opposite: money was like a hot coal burning a hole in our pockets. I had a young friend who felt so compelled to spend whatever money came her way as soon as possible that if the toy store didn’t have anything she particularly wanted, she’d actually buy something she didn’t, just to get that high of acquisition.

Both behaviors are actually motivated by fear of not having enough.

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Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me

“…I don’t hear a word they’re sayin’. Only the echoes of my mind.”

For many of us, this song lyric is far more true than we’d like to admit.

It’s not because we’re shallow or uncaring. Well, most of us, anyway. What we are is distracted, defensive, and, ultimately, disconnected. It keeps us from being fully present in most of the conversations we have. It keeps from hearing what the other person actually said. Worst of all, it puts a wedge between us and those most important to us: partners, family, friends, and professional peers.

Distraction: your child is trying to tell you about something really exciting that happened at school, but you’re trying to get dinner on the table and thinking about a presentation you have to give tomorrow at work. So you hear something approximately like, “…so then Keisha said blah blah blah and I tried to blah blah blah but Mrs. Rothstein told us we had to blah blah blah and it made us feel really blah blah blah….”

Results: you didn’t just miss what your kid was saying, you missed an opportunity to learn something, to see some of the treasure unique to her glinting inside her.

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What We Have Here, Is Failure to Communicate

Couple Seated Back To Back, Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis; maggie mcreynolds blog

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

It’s an old joke: the four-year-old asks, “Mommy, where did I come from?” and Mom, fervently wishing this had happened on Dad’s watch, launches into a lengthy and somewhat euphemistic ramble about mommies having eggs, and daddies having sperm, and that in some sort of vague but definitely married way the two meet up and form an embryo, which grows in the mommy’s tummy and then eventually the baby comes out through a special place between the mommy’s legs.

Pause.

“Oh,” says the kid. “Jimmy comes from Albuquerque.”

The punch line’s cute, but don’t let it obscure an important point: Mom didn’t really hear or understand the intent behind her son’s question, and so she gave him information he wasn’t asking for and didn’t need.

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