The Psychology of Money: Do your attitudes toward money cause stress in your relationship with your spouse or partner?

Psychotherapy for winter blues?!

The Psychology of Money: Do your attitudes toward money cause stress in your relationship with your spouse or partner?

What do couples fight about? Lots of things of course, but psychologists who work with couples will tell you that sex and money are right up there at the top of the list. While there are many psychologists, sex therapists, and couples therapists that specialize in improving the sexual aspects of relationships, there are surprisingly few professionals who focus on “money issues” in relationships. Moreover, while many couples recognize that an unfulfilling sex life might require professional help, it is much less common for people to seek couples psychotherapy when their different ways of handling finances causes relationship stress.

In my practice, the couples I see frequently tell me that arguments over money are a major source of relationship breakdown and marriage problems. This is particularly true early on in the relationship. Example: Time and time again, couples who are planning their wedding come to me for help with considerable tension between them over how much to spend, how to save, and how to negotiate the financial stressors of wedding planning.

Why do couples argue over money?

Psychologists have demonstrated through research that we inherit our attitudes toward money and our spending patterns from past experience, and often from our families of origin. Cultural differences, sub-cultural differences, and individual personality differences all contribute to why people often do not see eye-to-eye with their partner when it comes to money.

When working with couples, I often find it helpful to have people examine how and why their partners’ approach to saving and/or spending money is different than their own tendencies. I have also developed a behavioural “system” that I have taught to many couples with success that helps couples to be accountable to each other with respect to their finances (so as to help meet long-term financial goals) but also allows each person to enjoy some financial freedom. This “system” can become a new language by which couples can communicate in order to reduce tension and resentment in the relationship.

In some situations, people either spend compulsively, or hoard their money to such a degree that financial issues become a major risk factor for break-up or divorce. In these cases, professional help from a psychologist is particularly warranted.

Psychotherapy for winter blues?!

The Psychology of Money: Do your attitudes toward money cause stress in your relationship with your spouse or partner?

Psychotherapy for winter blues?!

This is turning out to be one of the nastiest winters we have seen in a long time in Toronto. Cold weather and dark skies often affect people’s moods. In fact, many people notice that their moods improve on a sunny day and that they feel lethargic or down when it’s cold and miserable outside. And some people are vulnerable to a type of clinical depression that follows a seasonal pattern. Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD) is a psychological diagnosis that describes a clinical depression that begins at the end of Fall as days get shorter and lifts during the Spring when the weather improves. Some people experience “winter blues”, which is a mild form of Seasonal Affective Disorder and is generally not incapacitating. In its true form, Seasonal Affective Disorder can result in considerable impairment in functioning.

What are the signs and symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder? Individuals with SAD often reportincreased appetite and food cravings (for carbohydrates primarily), weight gain, low energy, fatigue, a tendency to sleep too much, irritability, trouble concentrating, social withdrawal, loss of pleasure and interest in previously enjoyed activities, low mood, sadness, and anxiety.

The cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is not known, but researchers suspect that seasonal variations in light affect circadian rhythms (your brain’s internal biological clock) and neurotransmitter activity.

How is Seasonal Affective Disorder treated? There are a number of effective treatments for SAD. Some individuals benefit from Light Therapy, which involves exposure to bright artificial light. Exercise, proper diet, and monitoring your sleep are all good ideas. Some people report benefiting from anti-depressant medication. Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy or other forms of psychotherapy with a psychologist is also likely to be helpful.