Healing my relationship with money saved my marriage

By Ashley Kay Andy

Reviewed by Kimberly Rotter

Jun 19, 2024

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Whether you grew up with an abundance or your family barely had two pennies to rub together, how we view money impacts how we manage and communicate about our financial health. We all have beliefs around money. 

Many people have to redefine their relationship with money as adults. When you’re in a relationship, this task can feel doubly challenging.

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Money secrets were the norm

Growing up I was taught not to talk about money. Money secrets were normal; money conversations weren't. It wasn’t polite to ask someone what they made, how they managed their money, or what purchases cost. As a teen, the only conversation had about finances was that I was doing it wrong. This experience led to intense feelings of shame and self-doubt, often leading to tears.

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COVID, debt, and feelings of failure

Like others, my partner and I were financially impacted when the Covid lockdown of 2020 hit. I was raising our young daughter and my husband’s employment was paying our bills…until it wasn't. At the height of financial strain, he was let go. We had to act fast. He opened up his own automotive repair shop and we dove into business ownership headfirst. But nobody taught us how to manage our own money, much less how to be business owners.

I’d had a massage therapy office before our daughter was born, but managing my own schedule and simple taxes was light work compared to his rapidly growing business. It wasn’t long before he needed to hire help, and we were up to our necks in financial responsibility. We were keeping up with paying salaries, insurance, corporate parts accounts, taxes, and the part we didn’t want to talk about…our debt.

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Financial struggles led to resentments

Fast forward to being married, now with two children. I still had some college loan debt, and we now had business debt and uncomfortably high credit card debt. Our relationship was strained and our inability to discuss money was taking its toll. I felt helpless, because my time was spent raising our children and not earning money. While I knew we both valued me raising our kids, I began to feel as though I was a burden rather than a valuable family asset. 

The pressures of unhealthy mindsets led to resentments. Instead of working as partners, we took it out on one another. When a doctor’s visit led to unexpected medical debt and I wanted nothing more than to sweep it under the rug rather than talk to my husband about it, I knew something had to change. 

And that something was us.

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Releasing the financial shame through a new mindset

One calm conversation at a time (after a few blowouts), we released the hold that shame had over us. It took patience as our previous patterns of anxiety, shame, and blame reared up. I began to view financial health as just another aspect of our overall wellness. If we can discuss our physical, mental, and emotional health, why not our financial? It was time to let our money mindset programming receive a much-needed upgrade.

We sought guidance from money gurus like Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman. We watched Ramit Sethi as he taught people just like us to live rich. We were reminded that we have the power to define what “rich” looks like for us, and we embraced our shared vision (which didn’t match what we were taught as kids). Our debts were brought out from under the rug and listed on the kitchen marker board in snowball method format. This led to us checking them off one by one together as we paid them down.

Healing from debt shame led to a stronger bond

As a holistic wellness practitioner, I knew the importance of healing. I finally began to heal my relationship with money, which in turn supported the healing of our marriage. Instead of fearing financial conversations, we’ve become the team we knew we could be and are working together to tackle our goals one by one. 

If you’re struggling financially and the debt is piling up, the first thing you can do is talk to someone nonjudgmental about it. Rather than focusing on the problem itself and continuing the cycle, focus on the solution to the problem. You're capable of owning your story, receiving guidance and support, and shifting the patterns from what you were taught into the life you desire. Seek out educators locally and professionals you enjoy learning from. You deserve to feel free of the weight of debt and negative money beliefs and rise into a wealthier, more secure version of yourself.

Ashley Kay Andy

Ashley Kay Andy is a writer, holistic healer, and plant-obsessed meditating mama. She received her bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences from USD and is a licensed Massage Therapist, as well as a certified Reiki Master, Herbalist, and Meditation Instructor.

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Kimberly is Achieve’s senior editor. She is a financial counselor accredited by the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education®, and a mortgage expert for The Motley Fool. She owns and manages a 350-writer content agency.

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