How to talk about money with your partner

They say there are three things you don’t talk about: money, politics and religion. I get it, but when it comes to your relationship with your partner, you need to talk openly and honestly about topics like these, especially money.

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Even though we don’t like to talk about it, money matters a lot. Indeed, according to a recent survey, money disputes are the second leading cause of divorce, behind infidelity. In addition, a North West mutual investigation found that 41% of respondents said their financial anxieties impacted their partners at least once in a while, causing financial disagreements.

After counseling individuals and couples for over 25 years, I have discovered that one of the main reasons couples come to therapy is financial conflict which causes relationship stress, financial anxiety and mishaps. costs that could be avoided through better communication and collaboration.

Emotions around money – especially shame, stress, anger over debt, or panic and fear of not being able to pay for the children’s education or retirement – can act as a barrier between spouses when they talk about their finances. Financial avoidance is common and costly. Dig deep, prioritize your relationship, and have the courage to face finances together.

How to talk better about money with your partner

Step 1: Plan a date night focused on finances

Plan an hour ahead so you both have time to come grounded and prepared. Consider ordering or cooking your favorite meal and getting your favorite dessert so you have something to look forward to after reviewing how you’re doing with your budget and planning for upcoming expenses or goals.

Make it a monthly date or a shorter weekly record. In doing so, you can discuss what works and what doesn’t, nip problems in the bud, and celebrate success. By constantly keeping these nightly appointments on your calendar, you not only devote time, energy and effort to your finances, but you keep the lines of communication open.

Step 2: Keep an open mind

We all have a unique mindset when it comes to money as we come from different upbringings, cultures, and environments that have helped shape the way we think about finances. The “money scenarios” we learned in childhood can often influence our current financial reality. Since money can be a very sensitive topic for your partner, honor their emotional experiences with empathy. Normalize and validate their feelings so they feel heard, known, and understood. Acknowledge what you don’t know and be prepared to consider your partner’s point of view, and perhaps even learn from them. Two heads are often better than one.

Step 3: Be assertive

Talking about finances can bring up issues from the past, whether it’s a shared experience or a personal trauma. Try to stay in the present. Ask for what you need to hear, say “no” to what you don’t yet feel comfortable sharing, and be open to negotiation and compromise.

Express your feelings clearly, directly and appropriately. For example, use “I” statements instead of “you” statements to reduce defensiveness and establish healthy boundaries.

Assertive communication demonstrates respect for yourself and your partner. Communicate and agree on boundaries or financial limits with others, including your children or extended family.

Step 4: Take small steps to avoid being overwhelmed

Start by talking about day-to-day expenses, then move on to conversations about retirement and life savings. Your rhythm. Often, it’s about delving into these larger topics without understanding your partner’s financial mindset that causes defensiveness, arguments, and hostility.

The implementation of systems of organization and communication on your finances is important to promote transparency, trust and prevent financial infidelity.

Having a financial planner or advisor as a mediator can be very helpful if you and your partner have different financial styles – perhaps you are a saver and your partner is a spender. They can help you ground yourself in reality and find a happy medium. Financial planning is done in small, manageable steps: 1) establish an emergency fund, 2) pay down debt, 3) invest for the future.

Step 5: Learn together

Starting a conversation about finances can be daunting because many of us aren’t familiar with all the fancy terminology. I have seen in my practice that when one partner is financially literate and the other is not, it can lead to an imbalance of power and control in relationships which can lead to resentment, miscommunication and a lack of team feeling with a mutual money mission. Commit to learning and growing together.

Be sure to use the financial literacy resources at your bank, credit union, investment firm, or debt consolidation agency. Read financial books, listen to money podcasts, or take a digital personal finance course together. Not only will this help you feel more confident about money matters, but it will also make you more comfortable discussing finances with your partner. The playing field will be more level, and you’ll be more likely to function as a team: working together to achieve common goals, including fun goals, like a vacation or buying a new car.

To take away

By being mindful when discussing money with your partner, you can manage the emotions caused by financial distress. Financial and relationship transformation happens when you learn how to better communicate with your partner and resolve money-related disputes. Previous fights over money morph into mindful, productive conversations that can improve your finances and strengthen your relationship.

About Roberto Frank

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