4 ways to keep the peace, and make financial decisions together
The tension, secrecy, snide comments, resentment and bickering in your love relationship, or marriage rage on and on...and they have nothing to do with flirting or cheating. You and your partner are at odds over a very different issue, and it's tearing you apart.
Money is the sore spot, and you're not alone.
Conflict over finances is a common reason why couples fight (and why they break up). In a recent study, 65% of respondents reported that they regularly argue with their partner about money. If you fall into this category too, you know how exhausting it is to bicker and quarrel about questions like: "how much will you spend", "how much will you save", "where will you spend, and what will you do to do to erase debt".
Even the most commonplace conversations can quickly turn into an all-out war over money.
Frequent arguments about financial matters can seriously dampen passion and intimacy, and will cause distance which may not be easy (or possible) to reverse.
Are you ready to put a stop to the money wars in your relationship?
Transparency and honesty are two essential ingredients to cultivating not just a healthier relationship, but a more robust bank account too. When you find the courage to be open with your partner about how you're choosing to spend money, or how you'd like to spend or save, it's easier for the two of you to work toward the same financial goals—instead of adding strain by pulling in different directions.
But it's not always easy to be transparent and honest with your partner when it comes to money matters.
You withhold information, hide receipts, or avoid the topic completely because—in the past—you two haven't been able to speak civilly about finances. This is your way of keeping the peace.
When money is a tricky topic in your relationship, it's often because of the ways you and your partner have been talking about it. Believe it or not, the real trouble is how you're communicating about money, and less about the specific issue itself.
Take a different approach to the way you communicate about finances and the money wars will resolve more easily.
1. Know your true priorities.
Whether it's money you and your partner habitually argue about or any other topic, it's likely that you're fighting for something you don't actually care that much about. We don't mean that you don't care about your finances, but the "side" you’re defending or asserting might not actually be a priority for you (even though you're acting as if it is).
A lot of couples end up in a bitter fight and, one day, realize that they were all worked up over something that isn't really important, or something that they even believe or agree with.
The next time you and your partner are engaged in battle over finances, pause to get clear about your true priorities. Write them down on a piece of paper if that helps. What do you care most about when it comes to this specific situation, money, and to your relationship and life too?
An added benefit of this exercise is that you can identify what you're willing to compromise about, still maintain your integrity, and also learn what your non-negotiables are.
2. Choose the right time to talk.
A huge mistake that couples make when it comes to communicating about finances is in timing. When a credit card bill arrives (that you can't pay) or your partner just got word that he'll have to take a cut in pay, it's understandable that you want to talk about it ASAP.
In the state of shock, or raw and intense emotion, this is the worst time to have healthy communication, and you're more likely to end up regretting the exchange.
Instead, choose the time and place carefully for your money talks. If this is an urgent matter, give yourselves 10 minutes to each come to calm and clarity about the situation or question at hand. Make sure you can both be free from distractions, and that you can talk without interruption.
3. Create peace-keeping ground rules.
In advance, come up with communication agreements you both will feel good keeping. These can be very simple, and include such things as: no name calling, or 5 minute "cool downs", if yelling occurs.
Some couples find it helpful to use a kitchen timer so that each person has his or her own space to talk while the other one listens before switching. Others agree to use specific phrases like, "Please help me understand" to avoid making wrong assumptions.
Peace-keeping ground rules allow you both to feel heard, and can prevent confusion and misinterpretation.
4. Focus on the next best step.
Another mistake that many couples make when talking about finances is trying to tackle everything at once. Yes, it's important to have long-term as well as short-term planning talks about money, but don't overwhelm yourselves. After making sure you both have a chance to speak and to listen, come up with a next best step.
That next best step might be meeting with a professional financial planner, or to get more information about an expensive item one of you wants to purchase. It could also be to set up a budget, or to support one (or both) of you starting to search for a higher-paying job.
Break down your journey to financial success in manageable steps that you both can get behind.
Communication is one of the essential keys to a happier, healthier, and closer relationship. We share what works (and what doesn’t) in this free video and course.