The Four Love Languages Of Money
Like many people, I never grew up knowing that there were different ways to relate to money. Most of us stumble through life trying to manage our finances the best that we can, with the limited tools given to us. I don’t ever remember being taught how to balance a checkbook, let alone the proper amount of money to set aside for retirement. Gradually, as I got older and was given the option of investing in an employer 401k, I began to educate myself on saving and investing.
However, getting the tools for managing money doesn’t address the issue of what money means to us personally. Most of us relate to money differently according to what our money love language is. As a divorce mediator, I see firsthand the battles that couples go through surrounding their conflicting money languages. Arguments about money, who spends it, who makes it, how to save it etc., are one of the top five reasons couples get divorced. In fact, it is often cited as the number one reason people fight.
I believe that a lot of marriages could be happier if people understood and valued each other’s money language. Marriage is a partnership, and if it is going to be successful, it means that both partner’s money languages are respected as an extension of that particular individual’s personality. We are often attracted to personalities that are different than our own, and yet find ourselves in conflict when the other person doesn’t approach money the way that we think they should; that is, like we would approach money.
One solution is to educate ourselves on the different money love languages so we can begin to understand our partner’s attitude concerning money.
First of all, what is a money language? A money language is how you view money and what money means to you. It is understanding how you and the people around you use money to express themselves. Everyone has a money love language and according to Dr. Kenneth Doyle, a financial psychologist, there are four basic profiles. Conflict occurs when we see money differently and expect our partner to conform to our way of relating to money.
The “Driver” is someone who equates money to success. For a driver, the more money they accumulate or earn, the more successful and competent they feel. Money protects against feeling incompetent or inadequate. Drivers use their money to communicate love by showing how money can improve the lives of those around them. Money and the accumulation of it is deeply tied to their ego, and one of the greatest weaknesses of this language is that a driver can be overly dependent on money for their self-esteem. They may become materialistic in order to combat a deep sense of inadequacy.
“Analytics” are people who are very structured and organized when it comes to money. They view money as a way to protect themselves from life’s uncertainties. Money and the management of it are a way of providing security to themselves and those around them. Analytics can easily establish a budget and stick to it; they are well structured financially and are good long range money planners. They express love to those around them by planning for the future well-being and interests of loved ones. However, like all money languages, this money language has a weak side. Analytics can become legalistic and controlling regarding money and budgeting. They have their own sense of financial logic which can sometimes communicate disregard and disrespect to their partner. Their conservative attitude towards money can override the feelings of their partners to the detriment of the relationship.
“Amiables” adopt an attitude of “Life is relationships, the rest is just details,” concerning money. Money means love and affection and an Amiable uses money to share what they have with those around them, especially their loved ones. But a lack of money is hard on Amiables because it translates as an inability to demonstrate love, which can sometimes make them poor money managers. Because they are generous and good hearted, they can sometimes lack long-range planning skills.
To the “Expressive,” money is acceptance. It purchases the respect and admiration of others. It provides the basis of relationships with desirable people. Expressives communicate love by shopping, buying, and spending to gain acceptance from a select group. This language can be used in a negative way to hide feelings of pain, insecurity, or incompetence. Expressives can become overly dependent on money to solve problems and calm fears. Spending money can sometimes become an addiction to Expressives because of its deep connection to their self-esteem.
Because marriage is a partnership in every way, including the way money is handled, sharing money can be extremely challenging, especially when couples are not aware of the different money languages. But I have found that most successful marriages are made up of partners that value each other’s money language. Not only do they spend time communicating their own wants and needs concerning money, but they also spend time learning their partners style and validate their unique money personality. Learning to appreciate and balance each other’s money love language will equip a marriage to go the distance and become the fulfilling relationship it was intended to be.