Money is commonly listed as one of the top reasons for divorce. It can also be the source of many arguments and stress in a relationship, especially if you and your partner have different spending habits. Most couples have difficulty discussing money because they may be ashamed of their debt, afraid of being judged by their partner, or don’t understand why their partner spends money the way they do. This results in many couples avoiding the subject all together which only makes the situation worse. So, how can you discuss finances with your spouse without it becoming an argument? Below are a few tips to approaching the topic:
- Be purposeful. Set aside a time specifically to discuss finances in a casual setting (i.e., over dinner, drinks, coffee, etc.). Don’t dwell on past mistakes but talk about what your personal goals are and what goals you have for the family.
- Make it a routine. It is important to talk about money frequently to make sure you both are on track to achieve your goals. Additionally, if you both know that on the 5th of each month, you will discuss finances, then both parties know to expect the conversation and won’t feel ambushed by the other.
- Listen to your partner. Most times arguments about finances come about because of a difference in values and the way we were raised. For example, one partner may value convenience (i.e., paying for delivery) over having a little more money in the bank. In order to understand why your partner spends money or doesn’t spend money a certain way, you must be willing to listen to them without judging.
- Be self-aware. If you feel yourself getting angry or frustrated during the talk, take a break and resume the conversation after both parties have had a chance to calm down. Also, be open about your spending habits and mistakes.
- Seek help. If you and your partner are not able to discuss your finances calmly or agree on how to reach your financial goals, get help from a counselor or financial adviser. Sometimes having a third party to listen and mediate the conversation can help you communicate more clearly with your spouse.
- Finally, don’t put off talking with your spouse. Financial problems, like all problems, only get worse if ignored.