Money…always a sensitive topic and always difficult to approach, whether you’re asking your boss for a raise, negotiating a deal, splitting the bill…
What’s interesting though, is that even in your closest relationship (the one with your partner or spouse), money issues make for an uncomfortable discussion.
But these conversations about money are not only inevitable in a relationship, but are really important to have. Couples who are married or live together need to be upfront about their financial goals, expectations and should work out how they are going to manage their finances (setting a budget, deciding who pays for what, etc). Doing this from the outset is key to minimizing conflict over money issues at a later stage. Nothing kills romance more than arguments over a credit card bill or a telephone account.
However, as most of us don’t anticipate that something like money would get in the way of our happiness, here are some tips on how to talk to your spouse whenever money-issues arise:
- Timing is Important– when you just come home from a stressful day at work is definitely not the time to approach this topic. Bring up the conversation when you are both feeling calm and relaxed. Remember that delivery is key.
- Use Positive Warm Ups– It is vital to communicate compliments, appreciation and other positive feelings to your partner. When you are talking about a sensitive issue like money you want to begin your discussion by sharing one or two ‘positive warm-ups,’ for example: “One of the things I like best about you is….” Or, “One of your strengths that I’ve benefitted from is….” We have the habit of sharing what doesn’t work, but if we work at focusing on what does work, our partner can feel safe and appreciated enough to want to have a discussion about the difficult topic of money.
- Don’t Blame– no two people are the same, and this extends to financial values. Perhaps you are a conservative spender, but your partner likes to spend more freely…Your partner is coming from a different place than you are on this issue, so accusations and finger-pointing will simply push away and put him/her in defensive-mode. Try explaining the issue from your point of view in a non-accusatory way and offer a solution to the issue.
Having money talks with your spouse should be an ongoing discussion. Close every discussion with an agreement on what you will take up for your next conversation about money.
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