Surviving Money Disagreements as a Couple
Open and Honest Communication Can Help You Turn Disagreements into Opportunities for Growth| By: Randall E. White, CFP®, RICP®, CRPC®, CMFC®
By nature, relationships can be fraught with challenges. As two people come together and begin to intertwine their lives and finances, there are many issues to navigate. Plus, busy schedules often leave couples feeling like they’re not spending enough time together, small things like dishes left in the sink can lead to resentment, and jealousy or control issues might permeate the relationship too. In short, relationships aren’t easy, finance issues aren’t easy, and combining the two can be challenging for any couple.
Of the potential setbacks you and your partner may face, the biggest relationship roadblocks tend to be related to money. Financial issues can sink even the healthiest of relationships, so learning how to work with your partner – rather than against them – to navigate these challenges can ensure your relationship finds long-lasting success, and on firm financial footing, too.
Maintain a Healthy Mindset
It’s impossible for someone to keep an optimistic outlook all the time, especially when we live in a world that’s as challenging as the one we inhabit today. It can also be incredibly difficult to keep your emotions in check when having conversations that are inherently emotional, such as ones that focus on finances. When it comes to your relationship, it’s key to make sure that you don’t approach your financial disagreements from a ‘right or wrong' mindset. Not everyone is going to share the same perspective on money management styles, but that doesn’t mean one is better than the other.
When discussing finances with your spouse or partner, try to put your emotions into words and communicate where you are clearly and honestly. In doing so, you’ll be able to break down barriers in your relationship and establish open communication on both sides.
Don’t Let Differences Fester
We all come to money conversations with our own unique financial experiences, so even couples who share a money management style can still disagree about finances in certain situations. The goal of your conversations shouldn’t be to see things eye-to-eye; rather, to focus on hashing out your differences, come to a compromise, and move on.
Here are some helpful steps to follow as you navigate these conversations:
- Address the problem honestly. It can be tempting to cling to our own ideas so tightly that we end up having the same arguments repeatedly. However, approaching your next fight as an opportunity to have a constructive conversation instead of the same argument can change the outcome entirely. Find some time when you can both sit down and fully focus on the conversation, equally committing to keep your emotions out of the equation. Keep in mind, this conversation is about solving the problem, so listening and showing empathy will go much further than confrontation.
- Remember to breathe. Money conversations can be tense, emotional, and messy. It’s normal if you find yourself and your partner getting overwhelmed and frustration rears its head. Taking a time-out to do some deep breathing exercises can be the perfect way to de-escalate the situation and keep you both on track.
- Listen Actively. It might seem simple, but listening is one of the most underrated communication skills you can employ during tense situations. Make a concerted effort to actively listen to what your partner is saying and where they’re coming from, and be sure that you reflect on what they say before you respond. Focus on listening from a place of empathy and try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes.
- When you’re about to interrupt, don’t. If you’re genuinely listening, interrupting is impossible. Additionally, it comes across as disrespectful and dismissive. Hear your partner out and be sure they’re done before you respond.
- Don’t force an absolute conclusion. Just like Rome wasn’t built in one day, you can’t expect every difficult conversation to end in a perfect resolution the first time. Chances are you’ll need to have follow-up conversations to make sure you continue to be on the same page as you move forward. That’s normal, so just remember to keep the lines of communication open and honest as you approach the issue collaboratively.
Building and maintaining a healthy relationship takes hard work, especially when financial issues become more pronounced and prevalent. This can be particularly difficult in today’s time when the continuing stress of the pandemic and the economic downturn have fueled new disagreements about money and intensified existing ones. Not only are many couples confined together for the first time, but some are also facing new challenges in uncertain times.
Just because these conversations take work doesn’t mean they’re impossible. Working through tough issues with your partner in constructive and collaborative ways can be an incredibly rewarding experience that brings you both closer together. At TriCapital Wealth, helping you achieve your future financial success is critical to everything that we do, and that means helping you and your partner establish a financial plan that works for you both. If you’d like guidance in developing your financial plan, please contact us today.
Securities offered through Triad Advisors, LLC, member FINRA/SPIC. Advisory services offered through TriCapital Wealth Management, Inc. TriCapital Wealth Management, Inc. is not affiliated with Triad Advisors, LLC.