Marriage Maven's News & Views

Marcia Naomi Berger, LCSW                                            September 2016

Money, Money, Money!
Affects Marriage and Dating 

Money is a sensitive topic for most of us--in dating and in marriage. Who isn’t at least a little bit weird about money, anyway? The topic seems filled with ambiguity lately, and a wealth (ahem) of possible answers.

How Do You View Money?
 Early in our lives, we gain lasting ideas about money, mostly from our parents or parent figures. My own parents felt fortunate to have begun their New York City public school teaching careers during the Great Depression in the 1930’s, when people who’d lost everything and were jumping out of high office building windows or selling apples on the street.

Fast forward to recent times, with shifts in the economy that have caused so many recent college graduates to be unable to find a job that pays enough for them to move out from their parent’s home.

Most people earn enough to save at least a little, should they choose to. Some are mostly spenders and others are savers. My folks saved enough to buy a house in a middle-class neighborhood when my sister and I were young. Although I was well provided for, I picked up, unconsciously, these unspoken messages:
  • Talking about money is not okay.
  • Asking for money is certainly not okay.
  • It’s fine to accept money when it’s freely offered
  • A gift of money means the giver loves me.
  • Saving is good.
  • It’s best to buy only what you can pay for in full now.
  • Make sure you can support yourself in case your husband leaves.
How people deal with money in a relationship can bring about strong feelings. We may feel more loved, less loved, or unloved, depending on whether a man spends money on us freely or withholds it.

Money as Love
“He (or she) doesn’t love me” or “doesn’t appreciate me” is a feeling that can arise when a spouse or relationship partner seems to be acting less than generously. Money issues are widely cited as the cause of most divorces, but often how spouses deal with money reflects how they are feeling about each other and their relationship.

Money as Power
Some people use money as a way to try to control a relationship partner; some use it as a way to avoid being controlled by one. An insecure man might spend more on a date than he can afford, hoping she’ll feel obliged to go out with him again.

Allison insists on paying for herself on a date because she doesn’t want to feel controlled. Sheila’s rule is that her first dates are just for coffee because she’d feel guilty if a man spent a lot on dinner and she didn’t want to go out with him again. 

I feel concerned about women who are looking for a man mainly for financial support, because they’re setting themselves up for a power imbalance. A sign taking off on the Golden Rule states: “Remember the Golden Rule: Whoever Has the Gold Makes the Rules.”

A power imbalance can develop when the husband is the breadwinner and the wife is unable to support herself financially.

I advise women who seek full partnership in their relationship: First make yourself financially self-sufficient.  Those who know they can take care of themselves economically are in a good position for creating a collaborative relationship of two equal adult partners--which is the best kind.

Money as Security: Savers and Spenders
People who view money as a source of security want to be ready for the future. They’ll save for a vacation, a down payment on a home, or retirement. They want a cushion to fall back on in case of a job loss or other unanticipated costly event.

Opposite on the spectrum from savers are people like George, 38, whom savers might view as careless about money. He operated a successful business and lived in a nice apartment he rented in a prime San Francisco location. He ate his daily breakfast croissant and latte at a nearby café, where he didn’t have to order because the servers knew it was always the same for him. He ate lunch, and often dinner, at a restaurants. 

In case you’re not yet convinced that George is basically a “spender,” think about his comment, “I’d like to treat my parents to a week’s vacation in Hawaii, but I don’t have the money.”

If George were a saver, he probably would have owned his home by then, where he’d eat breakfast there and usually prepare his own lunch. He might eat dinner out once or twice a week, with or without a date. He’d remain debt-free by paying off his credit card balance each month. And he would have been able to send his folks to Hawaii in style.

Identifying Your Money Attitude
Answering the questions below can help you to identify your thoughts and feelings about money, and from where they came. There is no right or wrong in how we view money, but as we gain self-understanding about how we relate to it, we are more likely to be able to handle situations involving money more smoothly and respectfully in dating situations and in marriage.              
  1. What kinds of conversations, if any, were permitted about money in your family?
  2. What rule(s) about money existed in your family when you were growing up?
  3. Which of the above rules influence how you deal with money now, and how?
  4. Are you more of a saver or a spender?

Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love--Review

5.0 out of 5 stars
The How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen of marriage books

By knittymamaon August 11, 2016
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase


Hang in There for a Fun Way to Connect

I thought I knew everything about marriage and communication. We've done counseling a few times. I've read a bazillion books. What this book did for our marriage is similar to what How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen did for our parenting. Yes, it's nice to know what you're supposed to do but most books leave it there. You have to figure it out on your own. This book walks you through step by step HOW to do it.

Make sure you aren't giving up until you've done weekly meetings for at least 6-8 weeks. That's how long it took us to move from it feeling forced and weird to it feeling like a fun way to connect. Because it actually does help you connect with your partner.


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Amazon bestseller Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You've Always Wanted, is a warm, informative, practical guide for engaged, newly wed, and long married couples--and for marriage minded singles. Also available at bookstores and libraries.
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Book now available in Spanish.

New Series! 
Tips for Singles

He's not the marrying type if...

You don’t feel like yourself around him. “If your partner has a lot of ‘shoulds’ for you ― he wants you to be this way, and not that way ― you might find yourself playing a certain role that doesn’t really feel like you. Sometimes it’s your friends that tell you that you’ve changed. If he can’t be in relationship with you ― the real you ― then you might want to reconsider.” ― Gal Szekely, marriage and family therapist
_______________________________                                                                     Note: Above tip published in July 28 Huffington Post article by Carolin Lehmann. More signs that he's not the marrying type to appear in future newsletters.


Berger as BYU Radio Guest

The July 27 Matt Townsend Show featured Marcia Naomi Berger sharing tips for creating a great marriage. To listen, click
here, then scroll down to click the time stamp for "Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love." 

Workshops, Classes, Programs, and More  

Workshop for Couples 

Caring couples gain positive communication skills, step-by-step, including for marriage meetings, which a wife describes as "so simple yet so powerful" in her

Workshop for Women

Includes how to meet him, date successfully, overcome obstacles to marrying, and create a lasting, fulfilling relationship. 

For couples who want to be coached through a marriage meeting privately in person or via phone or Skype.


Gain tools for effective communication, conflict resolution, interpersonal relationships relationships, stress management, clarifying mission, goals, objectives and more.

Private or group sessions can be arranged for above and other services. Phone 415-491-4801. 


Marcia Naomi Berger is a keynote speaker and presenter at meetings, conferences, trainings, and retreats. More information here.

Marriage Meetings 24/7
click here

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) Professional Education and Training Center offers this one-hour online class you can take any time: The Marriage Meeting Program: A Strength-Based Approach for Successful 21st Century Relationships. Professionals earn one continuing education unit. All welcome!

Marcia Naomi Berger, MSW, LCSW, is the author of Marriage Meetings for Lasting Love: 30 Minutes a Week to the Relationship You’ve Always Wanted.  You can see her on Mosaic TV show talking about her inspiration for and process of writing this book.                                                                                                                                                                                       
For more information about workshops, therapy, counseling, and executive coaching, or speaking topics and booking arrangements: naomiberger(at)gmail(dot) com or phone 415-491-4801.