Not surprisingly, messy finances and frequent arguments over money and finance constitutes one of the biggest reasons for a divorce. Moreover, mutliple studies showed that this is one of the main reasons for divorce.
An earlier study in 2009 by Jeffery Dew at Utah State University concluded that married couples who argued about their finances more than once a week were 30% more likely to end in a divorce.
This is enough to understand and take money matters more seriously in a marriage. And it makes it all the more important to talk about money with your spouse to have a financially safe, secure and a viable marriage.
Tips to Better Discuss Finance and Money with Spouse
It is not without reason that couples dread to have the money talk even years into a relationship or a marriage. Money talks generally upsets a couple and the blame game takes over. Many couples struggle with wrecked financial issues early on in their relationships. It is in the best interest of the marriage and the individuals involved to be open about how they want to spend, how much they want to spend and what they should save to meet their financial goals. Here are some vauleable tips to help you have the money talk without getting frustrated or upset.
1. Earlier the better
When you start planning a future or are in a long term relationship with someone, it is important to let the money equation take some space. Because people view money as their philosophies about life and living, drastic viewpoints are sure to make the tread somewhat difficult and challenging. Having compatible ideas about money and how should it be spent and saved paves way for greater harmony and peace later in life.
2. Keep emotions away, only talk facts
Agree. Disagree. Discuss. But do not argue. Arguments just make conversations a battle of points – and when we are talking about your future, it does not matter who made the more ‘point’. In the end you both lose. Moreover, arguments make it difficult to breach the topic next time, and you may even break the trust equation between the two of you. Refrain from making the money talk an emotional conflict where you make it a point to win by not resolving the matter at hand.
3. Share your personal faults and mistakes
No one is perfect. When you know you are wrong, admit it. We all take some bad decisions and if you have been too, it is wise to admit and acknowledge the same. Plus, a little bit of learning that a bad decision offers stays on for life. Be honest about your faults. Be trusting and no matter how scary it may sound, admitting your mistakes does make a relationship stronger. It also gives the other person confidence to be honest about their own mistakes too.
4. Keep no secrets
All debts, incomes, savings, emergency funds and other financial assets and liabilities affect you both and so both of you should be transparent about them. Whether it is a bad purchase, some personal debt, or a new income source, everything must be bought on the table and discussed. Hiding an account or a credit card for secret purchases counts as a failure on your part. A healthy and productive money talk needs to be built on trust and honesty, and failing to subscribe to these basic pillars is purely damaging.
5. Don’t blame. Rather ask and understand
When you examine your money statements together, you will easily see through each other’s spending and saving errors. And while it may be very tempting to accuse and belittle your partner and score some points right away, don’t. If there is a mistake that your spouse has made, ask him about it but be calm. Be composed and pair an accusation with an admission of your own fault. Pointing mistakes is the easy thing to do, what you really need to do is to understand how to collective make changes that help you both in the future. Remember, it is never a one-way street.
6. Stay calm over the matters
Going through your financial standing could get frustrating and upsetting easily. When you are thinking of a future together, you need to clear the mess you are already in. It may be tempting to give up, toss some dirt, get angry and fight over the rising debts or the overspending habits. But that is not the point of having a money discussion. A money talk should be viewed as a productive approach to discuss and share your financial securities, doubts and goals. Staying calm and being comforting and assuring over the faults of each other will make your relation deeper and incredibly strong.
Discuss Goal for Personal and Collective Level
You have to discuss money topics as a collective goal rather than an individual goal.
7. Talk about collective goals
Where do you see yourself a few years from now? As an individual and as a couple. Talk about owning a car, a house, kids’ education and future savings. What about the debts? What about retirement? Ailing parents? Take each other through your personal goals and chalk out collective goals. Goals can be a great way to start a discussion about financial planning, investments and savings.
8. Listen to each other
Jumping to conclusions and not giving your partner a chance to bring his view on the table could be disastrous, not only for this money discussion but also for the relationship as the whole. Push out angry and negative feelings and focus on what your partner has to say. Give your attention to your spouse, be attentive and be open to listening and understanding.
Go on a Money Dates as a Fun Event
It can be fun if you plan for a money themed date where you will be discussing about finances.
9. Establish some ground rules
From ‘no yelling’ to ‘no blaming’ and ‘time-outs’ – establish some rules before starting the money talk. Talking about finances can make people emotionally charged and even upset, take a break from the conversation. No one raises the voice. No one thumps the table. Walking out on each other is not an option. Refrain from getting into the heat of the moment and saying things that you neither mean nor intend to say. Regretting later serves no useful purpose, so keeping those emotions in check and establishing some ground rules really helps.
10. Do something fun after the ‘money date’
Money discussions can be stressful, to say the least. They make a couple see right through their own and each others’ faults and mistakes. After discussing finances, most couple feel left out and empty, and somewhat feel the relationship cracks. However, pairing a money discussion with something fun later really helps cement the gap and bond better. Plan something like a movie or a dinner together to assure each other that though things might have hurt, you are still in it together. That’s the whole point of being in a relationship or a marriage, being in it together.
11. Plan for the next ‘money date’
And, then, in the end plan when you want to revisit your finances again. Initially you might need to do the money talk frequently, but once you have gotten hold of your finances and are more comfortable discussing the issue, the frequency will be less. Chalk out a comfortable day of the week or month when you both are available to address the financial issues, and try not to repeat the mistakes of the previous session. Slowly and gradually, you will notice it helps and your financial mess may just be more manageable.
Financial disagreements can turn even the happiest of marriages into sour. So it is important to know how to have the ‘money talk’ with your spouse before it becomes a problem, paving way for more problems.