4 ways to talk about finances without arguing.
In fact, the recent National Survey of Families and Households found that regardless of their tax bracket, married couples who frequently argued about finances were more likely to divorce. This same study showed that arguments about money were harsher, lasted longer and required more time and effort to bounce back from.
Because the “M” word is so potentially contentious, some couples tip toe around the subject and refuse to talk about it. They communicate only when necessary about bills due or purchasing decisions and even then, they speak with guardedness or get defensive before the discussion has begun.
Particularly with the economic challenges that have been going on not only in the U.S. but around the globe, it’s essential for couples to learn how to talk about sensitive subjects like money and to do so in ways that help them stay close and trust one another.
Unfortunately, these habits get in the way and make money a topic that gets avoided at all costs or is at the center of frequent blow ups...
- Different rules and priorities
- Hiding spending
- Defensiveness about purchases
- Secretiveness when financial challenges arise
And there are more. Think about how a usual conversation about money goes for you and your partner. How does he or she react? What do you say or do? What is your mood just before and during a money talk? How close or far apart do you two feel after you’ve communicated about financial matters?
If the way you and your partner talk about money has been a springboard for arguments or cold and hostile silence in the past, know that this is bad for trust, connection and the overall health of your marriage. Use these 4 tips to improve communication about finances in your marriage...
1. Admit to your money fears.
One thing that sparks and fuels most arguments about money is fear. If you pull back the curtain on your judgments about the way your partner spends too much or refuses to spend much at all, you’re going to find fear.
No matter what our bank accounts say, just about every one of us has fears about money. It’s about survival, after all! Money is required to provide for our basic needs, not to mention all of those extras that help us enjoy the lifestyle we have (or want to have).
When you admit to the fact that you have worries, fears and maybe even anxiety about money to yourself and to your partner, it helps you understand one another a little more and it encourages compassion too.
2. Be honest about your priorities.
Know what your financial goals are and don’t hide them. If you feel embarrassed or ashamed about your priorities, you’re more likely to lie, pretend or become defensive about them. These reactions are only going to amp up the tension, breed resentment and cause more conflict.
Instead, be upfront and let your partner know what it is you’d like to save for or to spend. Talk about what you want and be aware of how flexible you are when it comes to specific financial goals.
3. Listen completely.
Don’t assume that you already know what your partner’s position is on a particular money matter. Regardless of what he or she said the last time you two argued about this or a similar issue, instead of making an assumption, listen. Keep your mouth closed and your mind open and really hear what your partner has to say.
If you’re confused or what you’re hearing doesn’t make sense to you ask, “Please help me understand....” or “When you say _____ do you mean _____?”
4. Look for the overlap.
As you listen to your partner, pay attention to the places where what he or she is saying (and wants) overlaps with what your financial priorities are. In the vast majorities of arguments, the two “sides” aren’t actually all that far apart.
Think about some creative ways for you both to not only feel heard and understood, but also for your priorities to get met. It might take some time, but when you come to the conversation with openness and an intention to cooperate (instead of be combative), solutions come easily and then you can get back to the business of enjoying loving one another.
You don’t have to tip toe around those tricky topics like money any more! This free 7 day Communication Magic ecourse can help you stop arguing, restore the harmony and move you closer together again.