Stop Fighting About Money
Money is a topic that can cause trouble for even the most well-adjusted couples. So many of us have emotional issues about money we aren’t even aware of, and these can rear their ugly heads when suddenly we find ourselves in a position where we need to articulate them out loud. Because if we’re going to be a couple, we have to talk about money. How to get it, how to spend it, how much of it we need, etc.
I think it would help to think about money as another point of negotiation. Because, really, aren’t all couple issues really about negotiation and compromise?
So…the first step would be to have a conversation about how you both view budgeting, spending vs. saving, and how much money you need to have in the bank to feel comfortable. Try to get on the same page. Now, remember, I said negotiate, not strong-arm or guilt-trip your partner into agreeing with you. I guarantee you’ll pay for that in the long-term because it will probably create resentment.
Then, sit down and go over all of your figures. Make sure both partners understand exactly how much money the family has (a recent study shows that men tend to overestimate their wealth, and women tend to underestimate). Include income, investments, expenses, etc.
Then, set some goals that both of you agree on. Make a concerted effort to understand your partner’s point of view. Use “I” statements, own your own feelings and don’t accuse your partner of stuff (don’t start sentences with “You”). If the conversation becomes heated, take a break and try again later. Yes, you are both going to have to compromise, or as I tell my couples “be equally miserable.” Marriage isn’t for wimps.
And don’t keep secrets. Don’t hide money from your husband or wife, unless you are in an abusive relationship and trying to escape. In that case, we need to be having an entirely different conversation…
Lastly, revisit as necessary. The decisions and goals you make this year may not be the same decisions and goals you make next year. Financial circumstances change. It’s OK to revise- just make sure you agree. If you still can’t resolve your money issues, then it may be time to consider couples counseling.