Talking about finances as a couple can be stressful and frustrating. But, money talks are easier if at least one partner knows a few tips for money and love — even if debt is threatening to ruin the relationship!
“All married couples should learn the art of battle as they should learn the art of making love. Good battle is objective and honest — never vicious or cruel,” said advice columnist Ann Landers. “Good battle is healthy and constructive, and brings to a marriage the principle of equal partnership.”
Learning the art of fighting fair can doesn’t just strengthen relationships, it can help decrease debt and create financial abundance. To learn more about money and marriage, read Love and Money: A Life Guide to Financial Success.
And, check out these seven tips for money and love relationships…
7 Tips for Talking About Finances for Couples
“Learning to fight fair is an ongoing process,” says Heather McKechnie, a family therapist. “No one is able to keep these simple rules in mind all of the time. However, with practice and compassion, they can become an integral part of an enriching and committed relationship.”
1. Be honest about your money habits. The more I write about talking finances as a couple, the more I learn how difficult it is for some couples to be honest about money when they’re in love! Some partners hide their spending and saving habits, and have a hard time sharing their honest thoughts and feelings. I know how difficult it is, but being honest about money, debt, and financial goals is the key to a happy, healthy love relationship.
2. Take responsibility for your behavior. If your credit cards are teeming with debt and you can’t pay the rent or mortgage, take it a step further than “just” being honest! Admit you made financial mistakes. Figure out the steps you can take to get rid of your debt. Don’t blame your partner. When you’re talking finances as a couple, you need to own up and take action.
3. Don’t bring up money issues from the past. My husband and I are talking about money a lot these days, because we’re trying to figure out if we can afford a more expensive house. Sometimes our discussions get off track — sometimes we talk about money issues from years ago. This doesn’t help us today! Bringing up old hurts or disappointments is overwhelming and distracting. And, rehashing past financial problems or decisions can increase frustration and decrease hope. Keep your money discussions current and relevant (this money and love tip works for other types of discussions, too!).
4. If you can’t keep the discussion affectionate, make it polite. No matter how angry, hurt, or frustrated you are, don’t call your partner names. Name calling derails conversations and makes people defensive. When conversations deteriorate into name-calling, nobody wins. And, don’t hit, scream, spit, throw things, or cause harm to your partner. To talk finances as a couple, stay in touch with yourself and your feelings. Learn to recognize when your patience ends and anger builds.
5. Ask lots of questions — seek to understand your partner’s money personality! The more genuinely curious you are about your partner’s views about money, the easier your communication will be. Instead of trying to convince him to think about money, budgets, and finances the way you do, seek to understand. Ask questions when you don’t understand — don’t try to guess what your partner thinks.
6. Don’t criticize your partner to — or in front of — anyone. We all need outlets to vent our frustrations — but filling a friend, child or relative’s ear with criticisms benefits nobody! It’s not fair to burden family or kids with debt problems, financial issues, or relationship struggles. If you can’t resolve financial stress, talk to a couples counselor or financial planner.
7. Recognize your emotional limits; call a time-out when necessary. This is an important tip for money and love, and it’s good to agree to do it before the financial conversations begin. If you’re angry, frustrated, or impatient, take a five minute break — it’ll do wonders in diffusing a heated conversation! It’s also important to recognize that your emotional limit is probably different than your partner’s. And, remember to breathe and stay calm.
Do you have any thoughts or questions about talking finances as a couple? I welcome your comments below…