Find Out How to Talk About Money with Your Spouse And Not Fight
No doubt, you have heard statistics that blame financial issues as one of the leading causes of relationships ending. You may have known people who seemed to have a good marriage or relationship, and yet they parted ways over money. No one commits to a relationship expecting it to end because of a lack of communication over financial matters. It is also true that most people feel that their relationship is more important than money. The real remedy for most issues surrounding money is merely communicating about this vital part of life. Here are some practical steps to help you and your mate communicate in non-threatening, accusatory, or judgmental ways about money.
- Understand the significance of money to your mate. What are your mate’s feelings about money? What does money represent to them? Here are some common meanings that people attach to money.
- Security. People who see money as security will often be savers more than spenders. They save for a rainy day and become anxious and upset if money is spent on what they deem as frivolous purchases. To be financially sound with money saved and invested affords them the comfort of feeling secure.
- Influence or Status. For these people, money is a means to gain influence with others. It gives them a feeling of significance and validates them. They are more confident and self-assured when they are financially successful.
- How money is handled and spent translates as respect for these individuals. They want to be involved and included in decisions about major purchases. While influence may be important to them, they are more concerned about how they are respected and considered in this area by their mate.
- For many people, money buys freedom – the freedom to spend, travel, not be tied to an office or a 9 to 5 job. Their fear is that lack of money will mean that they will be restricted and confined to staying in a boring rut.
- Ability to realize dreams. Money is viewed as a means to achieve their goals and live a fulfilled life. Whether their dream is to build a mansion or feed the hungry, financial resources will make it possible.
Have a conversation with your partner about what significance money has to them and their greatest financial fear. When you understand why they feel how they do about money, you will be better able to understand them and their spending or saving habits.
- Talk first about money in general. Before you talk about your personal and family finances, have some general conversations to help you understand your mate’s mindset. Some discussion starters could be:
- Growing up in my home, money was…
- When it comes to money, I would like to improve…
- What I have noticed about you and money that I appreciate is…
- When I think about our financial future, I feel…
- Initiate financial conversations. Often financial matters are the “elephant in the room.” You avoid talking about what you both know is an important and often sensitive matter. Use conversation starters like:
- “I know you usually take care of the finances, but I would really like to sit down together so we can get on the same page.”
- “Hey, would you like to sit down with me when I do the finances this month so we can set some goals together?”
- “I’ve been thinking about how we can [insert money goal here], and I was hoping we could discuss it over coffee.
- Be honest about your own spending. Tell your mate about those expenditures that you haven’t told him/her about before. Admit your mistakes and weaknesses in this area.
- Don’t blame – be a team. Avoid blaming your mate for whatever financial challenges that you are facing. Use “we” and not “you” in your conversation. Look each other in the eyes. Holding hands can help you stay connected and navigate through some possible turbulence in your discussions.
- Be positive and encouraging. Reframe your thinking. You don’t “have to” deal with finances with your mate, you “get to”! Be kind, assume the best, be generous with your compliments, show respect to your mate as a partner in life… and finances. It never hurts to occasionally say, “I love you” in the discussion.
- Don’t judge. Look at the numbers and stay objective. Numbers are neutral, so don’t ascribe negative or judgmental meanings to them. Stay objective and rational.
- Work toward goals together. The more that you can focus on mutually agreed-upon goals, the more progress you will make.
- Set goals that you both agree on. Not every goal will be as important to you as it is to your mate, and vice versa. The important thing is not that you agree upon the importance of a particular goal, but that you both agree to work toward reaching that goal.
- Develop plans to reach your goals. Determine what each of you will do to make the dream a reality. It needs to be a team effort so that one person is not doing all the work or making all the sacrifices while, in contrast, the other person is doing nothing – or worse- sabotaging the progress toward the goal.
- Periodically review your goals. For example: Maybe your goal is to create a budget. Assign each person areas of the budget to develop and then come back together in a week and share your results.
- Keep talking regularly. Life changes, needs arise, and new opportunities present themselves. Often, these require adjustments in your financial plans. Have an open and honest conversation and decide together how you will address these challenges or opportunities.
- Celebrate! Do something romantic after your financial discussions. Reward each other and express your love, admiration, and appreciation to one another. You are an amazing couple!