Episode 19: Anne Watts: Finances and Intimacy

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When you ask social workers, therapists and family law attorneys why so many marriages end in divorce the two most common answers are - Sex and Money. Yet how few of us are comfortable really talking about money and finances with our most beloved. We argue and accuse, but rarely find love or intimacy in things financial. In this episode Anne Watts, a workshop leader and counselor in the areas of Sex, Love and Intimacy for more than 20 years, talks about the intersection of finances and intimacy. Listen in as she describes and discusses her workshop called "Financial Intimacy and Freedom for Couples." And don't miss Anne's exercise that you can do at home to enhance your financial intimacy, at the end of our interview. More details on this episode go to http://personallifemedia.com/podcasts/sex-love-intimacy/episode019-anne-watts-finances-and-intimacy.html

Transcript

Anne Watts: Finances and Intimacy

Announcer:  This program is intended for mature audiences only.

[Music]

Chip August:    Welcome to Sex, Love and Intimacy.  I am your host Chip August and today we are talking to Anne Watts.  We are going to be talking about financial intimacy and freedom for couples.  Anne Watts co-created and leads a workshop called Financial Intimacy and Freedom for Couples.  She has been doing it for more than seven years and is a councilor who works with couples and individuals in personal growth and has been doing that for decades.  She creates and leads a workshop called Healing the Inner Child.  She also created and leads a workshop called The Art of Aging.  She is a workshop leader and facilitator for the Human Awareness Institute in leading workshops in love, intimacy and sexuality and has been doing that for more than twenty years.  She is actually one of the people who trained me to lead workshops and I feel really privileged to have her here.  

Anne Watts:    Spencer maintains that everyone knows everything they need to know about money.  We’ve all heard it, we’ve all learned it.  You can learn it really fast.  But even the most experienced financial people, knowing what they know, act on impulse rather then what they know.  Here’s the thing, when people have different stories about money, they’re different programming.  What they’ll do is one spends money easily, that was true in my case, and the other doesn’t.  Now there is that bump, you know?  So the one that spends easily starts spending secretly.  The more open we can be, the more honest, the more truthful, our sexuality opens up because there is a deeper bond of intimacy.  The deeper the intimacy, the deeper the truth, the more open and honest the relationship, the better the sex.  There is a feeling that people often have, and this is really prevalent among wealthy people, they can never have enough.  So you know I got one million dollars, well that’s not enough I need two million dollars.  Okay, I got two million dollars now I need five million dollars.  It is never enough because their programming is driving them.  Another interesting thing is that when your below the poverty level the more money makes a difference.  When you are above the poverty level more money doesn’t necessarily make any difference at all, and often it makes things worse. 

Chip August:    Welcome to the show Anne Watts. 

Anne Watts:    Hi Chip.  I am happy to be here with you. 

Chip August:    So today we want to talk about financial intimacy and just those two words together, I don’t think I have ever seen those two words together, financial and intimacy.  What does financial intimacy mean?

Anne Watts:    Well one of the things that my co-leader, Spencer Sherman, and I figured out was that couples are more likely to talk about their sexuality with each other than they are to talk about money.  When they meet, when they are first dating, even well into their relationship, they don’t really talk about money.  It is frequently an area of great pain, an area of fighting and discord.  What we have created is a workshop where people discover what are our emotional hooks about money, because that’s what drives us.  Spencer maintains that everyone knows everything they need to know about money.  We’ve all heard it, we’ve all learned it.  You can learn it really fast.  But even the most experienced financial people, knowing what they know, act on impulse rather then what they know.  Why is this?  It’s because of our emotional hooks.  It’s because of stories and beliefs that we formed as children based on experiences around money that drive our emotional hook.

Chip August:    Can you give us an example of an emotional hook or stories that people carry about that you hear in the workshops?

Anne Watts:    Absolutely.  Spencer tells a story about going to his father one day after talking to one of his school chums.  He went to his father and he said “How much money do you make?”  The look his father gave him terrified him and he got the message loud and clear that you don’t talk about money.  Further more the experience of dad would always drive around the block many, many times, using lots of gas, rather than pay for a parking garage.  So money is something you have to hang onto, you have to be tight about it and you don’t talk about it.  When he met his wife, Jeanne, they talked about sex on their first date, no problem.  They had been together more than three years before they ever had a conversation about money.  Only then because of some really major impending financial purchase.  That long held believe was driving his whole experience about money which puts a wedge between couples.  For me when I was growing up, I grew up mostly with my dad, my circumstances were by in large very simple, not much money.  It was always “There’s not enough money, there’s not enough money.”  Except that we lived really well.  My dad knew how to live well on very little so there was sense of richness about our life with little money.  That’s what I kept recreating all my life.  Here’s the thing, when people have different stories about money, their different programming.  What they’ll do is one spends money easily, that was true in my case, and the other doesn’t.  Now there is that bump, you know?  So the one that spends easily starts spending secretly and not telling their partner because they don’t want to have the bump.  What really works is to be able to understand each other’s story.  Where these beliefs came from, that opens us to compassion with each other.  Then we look at, what do we really want, what does each of us really want?  We get to a place where we can talk and be in team about money.  My experience has been when we have secrets about money, when we have secrets about anything, our sexuality begins to shut down with each other.  The more open we can be, the more honest, the more truthful, our sexuality opens up because there is a deeper bond of intimacy.  The deeper the intimacy, the deeper the truth, the more open and honest the relationship, the better the sex.    

Chip August:    Yeah, okay, but isn’t that just so simple as when you get together with somebody you show them your checkbook they show you their checkbook and you have answered the question?  I mean, what more is there?

Anne Watts:    What more is there is the ongoing how do we spend?  You know like, for instance, one partner may spend a lot of money and be in debt the other partner never goes into debt.  Frequently what happens is that the partner that never goes in debt gets really scared.  Like if I marry you now I am responsible for your debts, wow.  If I think this is going to on and on I watch my money disappearing, disappearing and it freaks me out.  Why would I marry you?  How can we be in partnership and make a balance?  Part of how we get there is helping people to stay in love through touch.  Have the hard conversations then touch each other, stroke each other, look into each other’s eyes and tell each other things you love about each other.  Brings them right back to there love and makes the conversation so much easier.  It is like, oh, we can talk about the hard stuff and still be in love.  Does that answer your question?

Chip August:    Do you notices that there are differences between the bi-gender?  I am listening to you talk and I am sort of thinking, well in our culture it feels like wage earning for men is sort of the way a man proves his manhood.  Wage earning for women, is at least perceived as the thing they do until they have children.  Do you notice that there are differences by gender?

 Anne Watts:   Well that’s a good question.  What you are talking about, the stereotype, is frequently so.  Although now a days sometimes the woman earns more money than the man.  We also notice that in same gender couples that one of them is a bigger wage earner than the other and so the same issues exist, it doesn’t matter.  Another thing we notice is the partner that has more money often controls through the money and the partner that doesn’t have the money will control through sex.  They’ll say no to sex, they become manipulative around sex and the other is manipulative around money.  There is the power struggle right there.  When people are being really open and honest and in love and they form a partnership and form a plan together they don’t have to play those games. 

Chip August:    Well yeah that whole power struggle between men and women and in couples, between men and men, between women and women, that whole power struggle makes marriages fall apart or triumph.  This is really great stuff and I want to talk so more but want to take a short break and give us a chance to show some support to our sponsors.  I am talking to Anne Watts and my name is Chip August.  You are listening to Sex Love and Intimacy and we’ll be right back.

Chip August:    We’re back.  You are listening to Sex Love and Intimacy.  I am your host Chip August.  I am talking to Anne Watts and we are actually talking about finances and intimacy.  Financial intimacy and how finances work with couples and when we took the break we were talking about power and sex and money.  Anne was talking a bit about, I think, about communication, communication, communication.  As any of you who are my regular listeners know that is one of my favorite subjects and pretty much the story I always come back to.  I am just kind of wondering, so is that kind of it?  You just tell your story and your partner hears you story and then you are all better or is there more to it than this?

Anne Watts:    There is definitely more to this.  You tell your story and you notice the emotions that come up around your story.  Like with Spencer’s story, just intense fear comes up there.  The next step is to let your self feel the feelings fully.  Take the story and the thoughts about all of that and just let it go.  Let it go, feel the feelings fully.  When you do that, when you become familiar with the feelings, aware of the feelings you can unhook the story from the feelings.  When you start feeling that feeling you can stop, take some breaths, low and deep, and just get it.  It’s like the person who is an additive shopper, when you are feeling the feeling that drives you to go shopping, that is a moment to stop, feel the feelings and take a few slow deep breaths.  In that moment, the moment you’ve done that, you have created a disconnect there.  I don’t know the electrical word you use for that but you create that and you are not hooked into having to do the thing that you do that isn’t healthy for you. 

Chip August:    I would assume this takes a fair amount of practice though.  I notice what you call emotional hooks they can be pretty deep-rooted and pretty hard to change.  I imagine this isn’t just as simple as I notice it, then I take a deep breath and never have this problem again.  Right?  No. no.  Anne is shaking her head, no it isn’t as simple as all that.  Aren’t these sort of hooks, these patterns, aren’t they programmed so deeply that really, come on, you can’t really change them?  They are sort of, that’s just how you are.

Anne Watts:    A lot of people would say that but my experience is, that first of all it does take commitment.  It takes your personal commitment to having it be different and why wouldn’t I want it to be different?  If I am doing something that is not working in my relationship, it’s not working in my life.  It doesn’t matter if you are married or not these are patterns that it is really valuable to get in touch with and change.  Make a difference.  So one way is through the breathing, another is to make affirmations about how you want to be about money.  In couple relationships one of the things that I like to have couples do is affirm each other and say you are really good with money.  You are really careful around money, you understand money, you take care of yourself well with money.  Money comes to us easily.  Just keep affirming what it is we want to have, the experience that we want.  The other piece of it is there is feeling that people often have and this is really prevalent around wealthy people, I can never have enough.  So you know I got one million dollars, well that’s not enough I need two million dollars.  Okay, I got two million dollars now I need five million dollars.  It is never enough because their programming is driving them.  So getting that enough is enough is a really valuable thing.  Finding out what do we really want?  What is really significantly important to us?  I have one couple that comes to see me and for a long time the husband kept saying, “The thing that is most important to me is my kids and my wife.”  Yeah but the guy was never home.  He was always making money.  Making money, spending money. Making money, spending money.  Never at home and I look at him and I said “You say the most important thing are your kids and your wife but that’s not what you are doing.  It’s not how you are acting.”  He really got to start to take a look at his deepest hearts desire was not matching up with his actions and he began to change that.  So that he spent more time with his kids, wow, a valuable thing.  More time at home, more time with the family, doing more of the thing he said was more important to him but not what he was doing. 

Chip August:    So I am listening to you talk and I’m thinking of all the different stories I have heard or programmed into me and one that just came up, really loud, I notice that there are some disconnect between money and spirit in our culture.  It feels like, we behave as if, pursuit of money is the opposite of the pursuit of spirituality.  Do you see that there is some intersection or relationship between this financial stuff you are talking about and also a healthy spirituality? 
Anne Watts:    Yeah I do because what happens is when people are earning and spending money they get caught up in it and they get attached to it.  It is the attachment to the money that becomes a driving force and now that’s where my focus is.  I believe that when we let go of the attachment it is fine to have enough, it’s wonderful to have enough.  Everybody deserves to have enough but not being attached is our freedom.  So it is the same thing when we get in touch with the emotions that drive us and we let go of attachment to that, to the thought behind the emotion.  When we let go of that, when we let go of our attachment, to the trappings of wealth, to know if my wedding ring gets lost it doesn’t mean that my wedding is over.  God I’ve heard that story so many times.  Somebody that’s marriage went down the tubes because they lost the wedding ring.  Hello.  The wedding ring is just a thing.  Yes it symbolizes something but our attachment to what that means is what makes us crazy.  To just be present to our lives, to be present in the now, to enjoy what we have, to be in the thrill of it.  Wow that’s living.  It’s not our attachment to the doing to make the money and to having.  Does that answer your question?

Chip August:    I think what you are saying here is that there is a value in a stated and combined pension but what we can’t attach to the attention.  That there is a vision for us and then there is an acceptance of what is so and some mix of those two is both a path to some spiritual feeling and an actual intimacy.  Is that what you mean?

Anne Watts:    That’s exactly what I mean and as your saying that the image that comes to me is a) the most important thing to me in my life is my relationship with my husband, with my children, with my grand children.  Those are the most significant things to me.  Whether we have money or not we have that relationship and there is so much richness in that.  It’s beautiful, it’s a wonderful magnificent thing.  I notice that often, wealthy people are the unhappiest people I know.  Because it’s all about the money, it’s all about the show.  I council people who come from wealthy families, the emptiness, the loneliness of those kids growing up in that environment.  The parents are always off doing something, out there.  They look good in the community, mean while their kids are starving at home.  Starving not for things but for love and attention and time.  So giving ourselves that richness then no matter what it’s like getting the priorities straight.  Again with that guy and his family all he was doing was making money-spending time where it matters most.  Often the poorest people are indeed the happiest people.  Another interesting thing is that when your below the poverty level the more money makes a difference.  When you are above the poverty level more money doesn’t necessarily make any difference at all, and often it makes things worse. 

Chip August:    Wow that’s an interest concept to pause on.  This is Chip August.  You are listening to Anne Watts, my guest, on Sex Love and Intimacy.  Remember to stay tuned because in our final segment Anne going to give us an exercise, something we can do at home so you don’t want to miss that.  We will be right back.

Chip August:    We’re back.  I’m Chip August your listening to Anne Watts.  We are talking about financial intimacy for couples.  Anne, I noticed you have been talking about this person Spencer Sherman.  Who is Spencer Sherman and why are we talking about him?

Anne Watts:    I met Spencer Sherman through the Love Intimacy and Sexuality workshops many years ago and he was so much loving what he was getting from the workshops.  He said to me “I would to create with you a workshop about money because that is the issue that is not being addressed here in these workshops of Love Intimacy and Sexuality.”  So Spencer is a man who financial investor who has been listed in Worth magazine for many years as one of the top one hundred investment advisors in the country.  He is the one who really got in touch with the part of us that is run emotionally by money.  So it has been really, really powerful and lovely.  We have a great relationship working together.  We have so much fun.

Chip August:    Who comes to these workshops?  Who comes to these things?

Anne Watts:    Couples come obviously.  It is about couples.  Couples who are early in their dating come, couples who have been together for many long years come.  Heterosexual couples come, gay couples come, we have had a triad here it isn’t as easy for a triad because the workshop is really designed for couples.  But all kinds of people come.  The thing that I love about it is that over the years people come up to us and tell us how much value they got. How much it changed their life and how great it felt to be able to finally talk about money and not be afraid to do so.  That makes me feel really, really good.  

Chip August:    If one of my listeners wanted to get in touch with you or wanted to know more about the workshops how would they do that?

Anne Watts:    They can go to our web site which is www.financialintimacy.info or they can call me at 707-789-9278.

Chip August:    That’s terrific and me is Anne Watts.  Anne Watts at 707-789-9278, great.  I always like to ask my guests is there advice, are the tips, is there an exercise that my listeners could do that might help in the subject you are talking about?  What could somebody take out of this that they could do at home that might help their financial intimacy and freedom?

Anne Watts:    Lovely thing that I like to encourage people to do is to set up a very peaceful environment for themselves.  Maybe light some candles, turn off the phone, really important thing, maybe even put on some soft music in the background.  Then to sit together, take a moment to take a deep breath and just say over and over the word money to themselves and notice what happens, what comes up.  Then maybe talk each one about the feelings that came up.  So one will say these are the feelings that came up for me when I thought about money and the other one listens and without any response they take turns and the other person says the same thing, what came up for them.  The listener listens from a place of curiosity.  Just open curiosity wanting to know.  Then after that they both take a breath and they think now what were my childhood money experiences and how did I feel about them?  Go back in life and notice particularly any really strong experiences that happened and what meaning they made of it.  Then take turns sharing that.  One shares, talks about the experience and the feelings and the meaning they made of it.  When they are done with that they take a little time they breath feel and then the other partner can do the same.  In that they get to learn a lot about themselves and each other, very powerful.  The second step to that then is to add some gentle touch, gentle caressing, letting the music sort of guide them.  I like to add while they are doing that touching giving each other affirmations about how good they are with money.  About I love how good you are about money, I love how we communicate about money.  Like really creating that thing we talked about earlier the environment that we want to have about money and the truth telling the deep sharing and that touching combined takes couples into a really deep place in them selves.  So that is the exercise I would recommend.

Chip August:    Well that definitely sounds like some sweet time together.  Talking about things we don’t usually talk about and having a little bit of stroking and a little bit of affirmation about who we want to be, so thanks, that is a great idea.  You have been a really terrific guest and I want to appreciate you thank you for being on the show. 

Anne Watts:    I’ve enjoyed it.  So I also want to mention that Spencer and I have a workshop coming up November 16th, 17th and 18th at the Sonoma Mountain Zen Center and if you want to find out more about that just go to our web site www.financialintimacy.info.  Also want to let you know that we are co authors in an anthology called the Marriage of Sex and Spirit.  It’s sold on Amazon.com and our chapter in that book is called Money: the Surprising Aphrodisiac.

Chip August:    Thank you very much Anne.  If you want text and transcripts of this show or any of the shows on the personal life media network all you need to do is go to our web site personallifemedia.com.  If you have comments or information or feedback for me you can also reach me by name, [email protected]femedia.com.  I am happy to hear you comments and to hear your information and would really love to hear from you.  That kind of brings us to the end of another show.  I really appreciate you listening.  My name is Chip August and you’ve been listening to Sex Love and Intimacy and I hope you tune in again.  Thanks.  Bye.

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