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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Hrstic

Money Matters: Building a Healthy Financial Relationship as a Couple

Updated: May 9

from Jennifer Hrstic of Therapy Alberta and Tiffany Smith of Map Psychology

A couple looking at their financial situation

Money holds a significant place in our lives, not only as a means of survival but also as a symbol of comfort, power, security, and status. However, the psychology of money goes beyond simple mathematics; money deeply influences how we feel, our behaviors, our attitudes, and our most intimate relationships, especially within romantic partnerships.

Decades of research by the Gottmans show us that navigating money conversations successfully can be a strong indicator of a healthy, happy, and life-long loving relationship. As money can be such a polarizing topic, many couples may not come to these conversations easily, resulting in misunderstandings, hurt feelings, resentments, and financial choices that don’t align with their shared dreams.

Understanding your individual psychological aspects and how they impact your relationship is the single best way to build a healthier relationship with money and navigate your lifelong dreams together


Money Matters

Our relationship with money is deeply rooted in our upbringing, experiences, and beliefs. Some common psychological aspects of money include:


1. Money Scripts: These are unconscious beliefs about money we have formed through lifelong experiences including some of our youngest memories. These experiences shape our financial choices, behaviors, and attitudes, and can even impact our lifestyle decisions. 

  • eg., For someone who grew up in a household where money was scarce, witnessing their parents argue about money might develop a belief that there will never be enough, and talking about money is scary.


2. Financial Compatibility: Couples often have different values towards spending, saving, and investing. These differences can lead to conflicts if not addressed. 

  • eg. One partner is a “spender” while the other is a “saver”. The spender may begin to hide purchases due to shame or guilt while the saver begins to feel resentment and anger. Gone unaddressed, this dynamic quickly leads to deeper relational wounds.  


3. Financial Infidelity: What constitutes financial infidelity can change depending on the relationship but overall, hidden debts, secret accounts, or undisclosed spending can erode trust within a relationship. 

  • eg. Your partner opens up a new credit line without discussing it with you resulting in long-term debt payments and a feeling of mistrust. 


4. Power Dynamics: Money management can shed light on unhealthy control dynamics and how decisions are made in relationships. If these dynamics are gone without being explored it can lead to feelings of inequality, resentment, and unhappiness. 

  • eg. One partner manages all of the finances alone, choosing how to spend extra money. Leaving the other partner in a position of having to request to spend money. 

  • eg. One partner is passive about the finances and does not offer support or problem-solving. Leaving the other partner frustrated or casting blame on financial management. 

A couple building a healthy relationship

Building a Healthy Financial Relationship as a Couple

If you struggle communicating about money matters in your relationship, you aren’t alone! Luckily there are some tried and true methods to change your relationship’s relationship to money. Practice implementing the following strategies: 

1. Open Communication: Honest and respectful communication about money is essential.  

  • Activity: Set a monthly meeting to discuss financial goals, and concerns, and make future decisions as a team. Remember to set this check-in up for success by creating a stress-free time when you can both focus on the conversation. And prepare to share what has gone well the last month! 


2. Develop Shared Goals: Establishing shared financial goals isn’t just about retirement or purchasing your first home. Financial goals allow you to dream as a couple and strengthen the partnership while fostering a sense of unity. 

  • Activity: Get specific and curious about your goals! When will that dream vacation be and for how long? What hotel or place would you like to stay in? What experiences would make it a lifelong memory together? And lastly, what is a realistic savings number to make your goal a success? 


3. Manage Money Together: Work together to understand the household finances. You might decide to create a budget together that reflects both partners' values and priorities. 


4. Seek Professional Help: You aren’t alone if you feel overwhelmed about where to start!  If financial conflicts persist or become overwhelming, consider seeking the help of an advice-only financial advisor or a couples’ therapist. Professional guidance can provide tools and strategies to address underlying issues and strengthen your relationship. 

  • Activity: Check out the psychoeducational couples group offered by Jennifer & Tiffany and see if it’s a fit for your needs: 

Want to Learn More?

Come join us for a Couples Counselling Group Program where you have the space and support to navigate Relationships and Finances! To find out more information or to register for our next group email 

Money plays a significant role in shaping the dynamics of romantic relationships. By understanding the psychology of money and implementing strategies for healthy financial management, couples can build a strong foundation of trust, communication, and mutual respect. Remember, it's not just about the dollars and cents; it's about building a life together based on shared values and goals. 

Jennifer Hrstic is a Trauma & EMDR Therapist at Therapy Alberta helping adults & teens in Calgary & Alberta. She specializes in working with adults who are struggling with trauma, fatigue, and chronic illness or pain to work towards healing, wellness and meaningful connected relationships.


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