Talking about money has long been considered a taboo for a number of reasons in our society. Not only is it deeply personal to many people, it’s also a highly contentious topic. But a marriage is a financial partnership as much as it is an emotional one, which means you may have to have an uncomfortable conversation about money every now and again. Luckily, there are a few techniques you can use to potentially make things smoother. Consider the following tips if you’re nervous about speaking to your spouse about your financial health.
Timing Is Everything
Approaching your spouse when you’re angry is not likely to help either of you, wait to discuss finances with your spouse until you’re calm enough to have a real conversation. When you have a handle on your emotions, your spouse may find it easier to talk about any mistakes they may have made. It also gives you the opportunity to come clean about how you could have responded differently to the situation, or to take responsibility for any mistakes you may have made. For example, if your spouse went on a spending spree, you may want to talk about how you could have been more involved to encourage a more moderate approach to spending. When you sit down with your spouse, consider your body language too. Nice gestures like holding their hand can help reinforce the idea that the conversation is not an attack on them.
Honesty is going to play a big role in whether or not you can get to the heart of the problem. Try listing the facts and mapping out clear goals about what you want out of the conversation before it even gets started. If you feel really ambitious, try creating goals about how you can fix any problems you might be facing. This can give you a jumping off point if your spouse isn’t sure where to get started. Once the conversation has covered the basics of the issues, asking direct questions may stimulate a more productive discussion about what went wrong and why. If you do take this approach though, make sure you’re willing to hear answers you may not like. If your spouse is willing to admit that their debt is just not as important to them as a new bike, you have two options. You can look at it as a sign of failure on the part of your spouse, or you can see it as a breakthrough moment that gives you more insight into the problem. Choosing the latter approach is unlikely to lead to a fight.
Increase Your Involvement
Marriage is two people helping each other through the good and bad times alike, so it may be time to get a little more proactive in your spouse’s life. By talking about the subject matter more regularly, you and your spouse both have the opportunity to become accustomed to discussing your finances. The collaboration can make it easier to stay on track when it comes to mapping out your financial objectives. While there may be setbacks, it’s important that both spouses make a commitment to start altering their behavior in the long-term. For even better odds that you’ll stick to the plan, add in a few rewards after each milestone is hit. Ideally, these will be rewards that both of you can participate in, such as a romantic dinner out.
Before deciding on a strategy for talking to your spouse about money, remember that every marriage is different. You may have to skip or alter a few of these tips to make it work for your relationship and particular situation. It’s completely possible to talk to your spouse without fighting, but it will take some effort on each person’s part. Just remember that the love you feel for your spouse is more important than a few financial mistakes.