So ladies, imagine one morning during the holidays, your old refrigerator suddenly seems about to give up the ghost. Images of all that spoiled food start dancing in your head, and you find a one-day-only flash sale for a fridge at a fantastic price . . . but your husband says he needs to think about it.
What goes through your mind? If you’re like many women, you’re not only frustrated (or furious) that by being indecisive, he’s risking hundreds of dollars in ruined food (and ruined holiday preparations) but also that he’s risking having to pay hundreds of dollars more if you can’t get the cheap fridge! You find yourself distracted during the day, checking constantly to see if the sale is sold out, and worried about whether the fridge will last.
Or men, imagine that tomorrow you’re in the middle of paying some unexpected, large, medical bills, and your wife walks in with a new outfit and happily announces, “It was on sale! It’ll be perfect for vacation. What do you think?”
What goes through your mind? If you’re like many men, even if you subconsciously know that your wife wouldn’t spend beyond your budget you feel a roiling in your gut as you automatically tally up the cost of the medical bills, vacation and outfit. You feel a sense of pressure as you wonder whether you have what it takes to provide for your family. Which is why your dutiful smile and “it looks nice” comment might seem a little forced.
What goes through your mind in those little scenarios – and why – is what Jeff and I have begun studying for our next major research project; a project we are partnering on with Thrivent, a wonderful, values-minded Fortune-300-company. Through their innovative subsidiary, brightpeak, Thrivent is sponsoring our research study into this question: what is underneath our responses to money in relationships? Because when there is conflict or irritation, we know it isn’t about the money. (More about that in a moment.)