In your wedding vows you proclaim to love your partner unconditionally, in sickness or in health, for richer or poor...till death do you part.....However money and finances are among the top ten reasons why couples divorce. In fact it isn't about the amount of money that leads to divorce, it is that the couples are personality opposites with money. Finances are one of the most difficult things for partners to discuss. In fact, when I brought up this topic with a friend as my next blog she stated that “money and sex were the hardest things to talk about in a relationship”. Heck, I am sure there are a lot of people who would rather discuss their sex life than money with their partner. Don’t get excited….this article is only about money and finances.
As I stated above it is the incompatibility of money personalities that is the cause of these divorces. Financial discussions can be difficult even if you and your partner have similar money personalities but they can be all out war when you are opposites. No matter your personality we have all been there, what started as a calm and collected budget discussion has progressed into eye rolling, yelling, possibly throwing stuff and finally storming out of the room. This doesn't have to be your outcome. My husband and I are opposites and we are still happily married and have been for over 10 years. However, I know first hand how easily these conversations go from good to bad.
How do I know this? I have done it. Yes, my dirty little secret is that even I have had some epic fights with my husband over money. It doesn’t happen as often now as compared to when we first started out, (I mentioned our completely different personalities earlier) but even with the best intentions and all the know-how, fights still occur. In fact, I still get anxious when we plan to discuss money because I know how hard we have to work to come to a conclusion we both agree on. He is a Squirrel (Saver) and while predominately I am a German Shepherd (Attuned), I have moments of becoming a Dolphin (Spender). This can lead to huge disagreements on where our money gets spent.
Let me give you an example: He hates debt and can become quite obsessive about paying it off. I on the other hand see the value of balance between spending, saving and paying off debt – granted the debt needs to be ‘good debt’ vs ‘bad debt’ (that is whole other blog post). I am positive that spending money is a form of torture to him while I view it as a way to enjoy life (within reason, I told you I have learned to control my dolphin moments...somewhat). As you can guess this clearly leads to some heated discussions, and not heated in the fun way. So without further ado here are some tips I have learned that have led to more civilized conversations.
- Schedule the Discussion: First, let me tell you that it is rare that people randomly walk in off the street wanting to discuss their financial plan with their advisor. So it is even more unlikely that your significant partner wants to discuss it on a whim as well. Money and finances are an emotionally charged discussion at the best of times and people like to be prepared for it. By scheduling the discussion you are telling your partner that you are ready to have a serious discussion. This also gives both of you time to mentally prepare for it.
I.E: “Hey Stud Muffin (I like to butter him up), I really want to chat with you about a course I am thinking of taking this fall. Could we discuss this on Thursday after dinner?
- Put the wine and beer down: There are certain things you shouldn’t discuss under the influence of alcohol like religion and politics, money should be added to that list. As I stated before, this is an emotional topic and alcohol only loosens those emotions at a time when we need a tight grip on them. So save the bottle for when the discussion is over.
I.E: I don’t think I need to provide an example for this…
- Have your reasons why ready: Whether this is a big or small purchase or you want to re-vamp the budget, be prepared with a list of reasons why for your partner. This is just as important for when you are saving money as well, especially if you are the squirrel trying to convince your dolphin spouse why it is important to save money. Having reasons why will help your partner understand why this is important to you.
I.E: “I really want to take this course because it will help me map out my future career plans. I am stuck between deciding whether I want to stay in my current position or become the next Prime Minister”
- Make a Plan: This doesn’t have to be a fully thought out budget but you should have some sort of game plan as to how you are going to make this big purchase. It will help your spouse see how this will be accomplished and that you didn’t magically make it happen with fairy dust.
I.E: “Since the course is in the fall I have 6 months to save up the $$$$. My plan it to put away $XYZ every month and then they offer a payment plan of $ZYX once I start to pay off the remaining within 6 months”
- Be willing to compromise: This is huge. If you aren’t ready to enter the discussion willing to compromise, you will probably be heading for a fight. This proves to your partner that you value their thoughts and are listening to what they have to say. Expert tip: Don’t wait for them to ask you to sacrifice something, tell them what it is as part of your plan.
I.E: “I have decided that to help work this into our budget I will cancel my monthly subscription to Knitter’s Monthly and will abstain from going into craft stores unless absolutely necessary.”
- Keep calm and stay strong: This is the most important one. It is so easy to lose control over our emotions when discussing finances. I have actually ended a conversation with my husband with an “I don’t want to talk about this anymore” followed by some silent treatment and a possible stomping to another room. I know…I know…#guilty. However if both of you can remain calm you are less likely to end up in a fight. If either of you feel as though you are losing your temper then it is time to take a break. End the conversation with honesty; “I am feeling very frustrated and we should talk about this later when I am feeling more calm”. It is tough but trust me it is worth it and no one sleeps on the couch.
I.E: Again I think this is pretty self-explanatory…don’t turn into the Hulk.
These are just a few tips to help those tough conversations become a little easier. Remember that this won’t solve everything overnight but it is a step in the right direction. Progress over Perfection!!!
Do you have a suggestions or tip that works for you when discussing money with your significant other? Share it in the comment section below or even let me know what you would like me to write about next.
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