Listen to Bernie Bolger talk about “For the love of Money” with Tony Delroy on `6 June 2014.
June 20, 2014
Following on from her success at the 2014 Conference where she wowed and engaged about 1000 delegates with her keynote presentation, here are Bernie’s Ten Tips on how to Talk about the Taboo Topics
Top Ten Tips for Talking about Taboo Topics (Sex and Money)
- Discover your Values (with Safire’s Values Cards). Your partner wants night sex but you’re a morning person. You want a family vacation but they’re worried about private school fees. What do you trade off? How do you make a decision that affirms both of you? By knowing your values. But discussing values is tricky. Safire’s Values Cards (available at the bookstore or online via firstname.lastname@example.org) are a great way to engage each other and the family in this exercise. It is very important that one partner’s values are not compromised in the honouring of the other’s. By discovering your life priorities, you are able to develop individual and joint goals which are aligned with your values. Making you happier. Much.
- Respect and Understand Differences. Know yourself. Understand your own habits and attitudes about sex and money. Are you coy and penny pinching? Or flirtatious and extravagant? Do you like to have lots of sex and spend little money, or are you all about lust and thrust but not about spending? Don’t assume your partner has the same attitudes and values. Have an open conversation about all things taboo – including flagging any STDs (sexually transmitted debts or diseases) you may be carrying. We are all influenced by the families we grew up in. A fun way to start a conversation might be to talk about the childhood messages we were exposed to about cash and passion.
- Financial Independence. As unromantic as it sounds, the happiest couples maintain a degree of financial independence within the relationship (Ask them – they’re the ones always smiling). Remember to keep a little bit of ‘me’ within the ‘we’ of the relationships. So even if there is a joint bank account for joint expenses, there are very good reasons as to why each partner should maintain their own individual bank account at the same time. Financial Infidelity is more likely to occur if you amalgamate everything and then never speak about money matters again .
- Acknowledge Financial Vulnerabilities within the Relationship and Assume Joint Financial Responsibility. Taking time off work to look after kids can lead to long-term financial vulnerability in terms of financial independence and superannuation. Acknowledge this as a real issue. Don’t assume that this is the role of the mother. In this day and age, many women have studied long and worked very hard to attain a certain level of career success and don’t automatically see it as their place to give that up. Open and honest conversations up front can save on a lot of heartache down the track. Just because one person gives up a paid career, doesn’t mean they become a second class citizen in the financial stakes. A very equalising idea is to have a percentage of the paid working parent’s salary transferred into the non-paid working parent’s bank account. S/he who has the money has the power, so this is a way of keeping the financial power differential at bay. It also helps to attend all financial meetings together. Be selective. Only engage financial advisers who understand your values and respect both of your roles in the relationship, irrespective of who is earning the dosh.
- The Magic Ratio. After observing thousands of interactions between couples, relationship guru, Dr John Gottman, discovered that the ratio of positive to negative interactions for a couple is a critical barometer of how healthy and stable a relationship is. At a minimum, couples need a ratio of five positive comments to one negative. So it takes five good things, like taking interest, asking questions, being engaged and paying a compliment, to outweigh just one negative action, like a harsh word or a raised voice.The brain has an inbuilt bias to notice and react to negative stimuli. Gottman found that negative interactions have more power to cause pain than positive ones have to heal and repair.The magic 5:1 ratio trains your brain to see the good in your partner. By building up a reservoir of positive emotion and goodwill, happy couples are able to identify and focus on the things they love about each other. They realise their relationship is bigger than their most recent misunderstanding. Try it. Use it. It works.
- Physical Intimacy. According to renowned psychologist, Sue Johnson, we are neurologically hardwired by millions of years of evolution to find a mate, to love and cherish, to be attached and connected. The neurochemicals released by hugging and hand holding are designed to foster feelings of calm, love and attachment so that the one you have chosen as your mate wants to stick around. When things aren’t going well, we feel rejected and emotionally disconnected. We feel lost, abandoned, isolated and stressed. The stress hormones rise and the supply of loving, calming chemicals plummets. With a partner to hold our hand, negative events, while stressful, can bring us closer. Jim Coan’s research also reminds us that hand holding is more than a symbolic gesture of trust and affection. Scientists at the University of North Carolina made similar findings. They asked a number of couples to hold hands for ten minutes and then to hug each other for twenty seconds. Another group of couples were instructed to sit quietly without touching. Immediately afterwards they were all instructed to deliver an impromptu speech; that’s about as stressful as it gets! The huggers were the ones who reacted most calmly: their heart rates stayed lower and so did their blood pressure. It’s so easy to stop hugging and touching your partner when life gets busy – and they are simple ways to keep the channels open, to show you care. Being affectionate is like filling an emotional bank account. When things go pear-shaped, there are funds to draw on to get you through.
- Different Sexual Response Cycles. Take the time to understand the difference between men and women’s sexuality. There is an old saying that men become intimate to have sex and women have sex to become intimate. Dr Rosemary Basson is credited with discovering the female response cycle. She claims that a number of women engage in sex without initially feeling sexual desire, either to please their partners or to create intimacy, and having sex then fuels their desire. But so often, being uninterested in sex means that women find excuses to avoid it. So it is really important that their partners do something to awaken a response in them. And that something has got to be more than the ‘hand creep’. According to the Hite report, every positive thing a couple does together can be seen as foreplay and therefore part of sex. Even reading this is foreplay. Read it to your partner. Slower, slower… that’s it.
- Five Languages of Love. Understand how your partner likes to give and receive love. Marriage counsellor Dr Gary Chapman came up with the idea of ‘love languages’. He suggested that we have a primary way of expressing and interpreting love. He outlined five defined ways individuals do this.
• Words of affirmation (compliments, words of appreciation, praise)
• Quality time (spending time together, giving undivided attention)
• Receiving gifts ( presents, cards, symbols)
• Acts of service (housework, childcare, fixing something)
• Physical touch (kisses, cuddles, massage, sex).
Leading Australian sex therapist, Dr Rosie King reiterated this with her five ‘Ts’ concept – Talk, Tasks, Time, Touch and Tokens.
To find out more, take this fun questionnaire online: http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/
- Make Sex a Priority – The Six Second Kiss. You can spot a new couple a mile away – they are the ones who are all over each other, PDA’s a plenty, no matter where they are or who else is around. Maybe it is time to start paying attention to your kissing. Kissing is good for your health and for the health of your relationship. It reduces stress while at the same time boosting your sex life, keeping your loving feelings alive and fostering a sense of comfort and satisfaction with your partner. So what’s going on when you kiss? The lips are the body’s most exposed erogenous zone. Packed with sensitive nerve endings, even a light brush sends a cascade of information to our brains helping us to decide whether we want to continue and what might happen next. Electric impulses bounce between the brain, lips, tongue and skin which can lead to the feeling of being on a natural high because of the potent cocktail of chemical messengers involved. These are the same bunch of chemicals that flood our bodies in the first throes of romantic love: the feel-good neurotransmitters such as endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline and oxytocin. Leading relationship researcher, John Gottman recommends incorporating a six-second kiss into your everyday life. It tells your partner you care about them and expresses your love for each other. And other researchers have found that couples that kissed regularly and often, not only felt better about each other but they had lower stress levels than those who kissed less.
- Relationship Coaching and Conversation Facilitation. This is hard stuff and yet most couples wait on average seven years before they ask for help from outside advisers. This would never happen in the Corporate World – you can see the headline news – Chairman and CEO sacked for failing to ensure the future of the Company. And yet the breakdown of a marriage can potentially have much more devastating consequences on a family. So don’t dally – call in help early but make sure your counsellor is fully equipped to deal with both the emotional and financial aspects of the relationship.