Money is one of the biggest sources of marital discord—and it can be one of the toughest to resolve.

That’s because when couples argue about how to spend money, they’re not just debating the issue at hand, such as how much they can put on the credit card each month, or whether they can really afford that big vacation. They’re giving voice to subconscious anxieties that even they may not be aware of—and bumping up against the unarticulated fears of their partners.

Maybe it was a childhood of poverty—or just the constant fear of poverty—that leaves a spouse hating to spend money. Maybe a first spouse’s secret bank account now is causing distrust in a second marriage.

Even benign past experiences can lead to unintended consequences years later. Dave Jetson, founder of Jetson Counseling in Rapid City, S.D., says that his first memory of money is getting a quarter from a cousin at age four or five. His mother immediately took it away for safekeeping, he says. “Her heart and her intention were in the right place, but what that taught me was, the next time I get the money, I’m going to spend it, because I don’t want it taken away.”

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People express love in many different ways. The way my Mom was known to express her love was with her generosity and food. Different people have their different favorites that she would make. A friend of mine recalls her chocolate chip cookies as his favorite. I remember the Sunday chicken dinners and her graham cracker pie as two of my favorites.

People also recall how they always knew where they stood with her because she was not known to mince her words. She was known to be sharp, critical, harsh and even downright mean at times. Her anger flares were known by all.

As I have observed and come to better understand human behavior, I have come to appreciate that her anger was hiding deeper feelings of hurt, sadness, fear, guilt and shame. I have also come to realize that no one expresses any feelings greater than their history demands. The expression may be greater than the situation demands, but not greater than their history.

With that understanding, I can appreciate the depth of pain that my Mom was holding in. Since she did not have the tools or understanding on how to effectively work through and release those feelings, her logical way to create that release was to die, which she desired to do.

The pain that my Mom experienced with her unresolved feelings did not allow the pearl of great worth that God created in her to fully shine. I look forward to the day when I am able to see the full brilliance of her pearl when we connect again in heaven.