Conflicts over money can seriously damage our most intimate relationships.
Money always ranks very high in surveys of why married couples fight and even divorce. Some research has shown that money is THE primary reason that couples decide to “untie” the knot.
The reason that money causes so much trouble is that it’s very measurable. While it’s hard to measure other key areas of our relationships, money can always be counted. NUMBERS DON’T LIE.
For many of us today, just covering the basics has become the struggle. We are fighting rising fuel prices, higher cost of groceries, never ending charges for the kids’ school supplies and that adjustable-rate mortgage that continues to go up. This stress can cause both partners in the relationship to boil over and begin to blame one another for the problems. Oftentimes, these stresses over money cause us to bring up financial “sins of the past”. Today’s money crunch can take a serious toll on our intimate relationships – IF WE LET IT!
The first step in ending the stress around money is to start talking about it. Most of us avoid this conversation at all costs. Why? Because it involves more stress. We would rather just avoid the talk and hope it will all get better. But guess what? It won’t get better-only worse, unless you deal with it.
3 Ways to Begin the Money Conversation
1. Reality Check
- Realize that delaying this conversation will result in more pain later. Money problems DO NOT GET BETTER WITH TIME. If you put off having these crucial conversations with your spouse or partner you should expect them to get worse. If you’re getting deeper and deeper in debt each month, another month that goes by means even more debt. Therefore, we must CHOOSE to enter the “Tunnel of Chaos” in order to come out of the other side and win together. This “Tunnel of Chaos” is the conversation where we put it all on the table. We must make a decision that we will initiate this crucial conversation about money now so that we can actually have less pain later.
- Ask for a calm and honest conversation with your spouse/partner about money. This conversation should be initiated from a sincere concern about your direction as a couple. Your spouse/partner cannot feel like they are being invited to a court hearing where you plan on “making a case” against them. Otherwise, they will be on the defensive before the conversation even happens.
- Expect to share all your “money secrets” with your spouse or partner. Oftentimes we see all the financial failings of others, but we conveniently forget about ours. Your conversation about money has the potential to either create a strong bond in your relationship or drive a wedge in it. It all depends on how you handle the conversation. You must both be COMPLETELY HONEST about your money issues.
2. Respect and Re-set
- Begin this conversation with a spirit of understanding and forgiveness. If you set the tone in the beginning of this conversation with a positive attitude and approach, things should go much better. Regardless of the issues that must be discussed, mutual respect is very important for continuing to build a healthy relationship.
- While showing respect, you may have to address serious spending problems and other issues. The key here is to focus on the “Re-Set.” Money problems created in the past cannot be erased, but you can start over with a new plan for the future.
3. Responsibility Acceptance
- A very important aspect of this conversation must be the willingness on your part and that of your spouse to act responsibly. This means to accept full responsibility for all of the money problems that each of you caused and to accept responsibility for actions that you will both agree to as you go forward. If either of you fail to accept responsibility for your money problems up to this point, it will be very hard to make any real progress from where you are now.At some point, both of you may need to “agree to disagree” over something from the past and MOVE ON. Being the bigger person can save you frustration and future financial problems.
This conversation about difficult money issues can be challenging and painful. But it can also be rewarding and profitable. You can see your relationship begin to change for the better once you deal with some underlying negative thoughts and emotions.
You and your spouse/partner should be having regularly scheduled money meetings. You’ll then you start to talk about important life issues once again or for the first time. You can also make huge progress in your financial life as you have these talks more often and begin to really control your finances with a great plan in place.