How to mix love and money
photo by nanabou
Some people can talk about their hemorrhoids with total strangers, but they clam up when it comes to money talks with their spouse. Often, one person feels attacked, and then the blame game starts. Soon, regular financial discussions dwindle, and the situation gets worse. The solution is letting go of past fights and agreeing to get on the same page. Pointing fingers and criticism don’t accomplish anything.
Set aside time on a regular basis to talk about your budget. These talks aren’t reserved for when something goes wrong. This should be a mutually scheduled time so there aren’t any distractions. Talk about ways to cut costs, upcoming expenses, shared goals and creating a game plan to make the most of your money. Easier said than done? It’s teamwork.
THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK: When discussions get heated, couples tend to say whatever falls out of their mouths. Learn to avoid saying everything that comes to mind. This isn’t biting your tongue or holding back. This is kindness and believing your spouse has the very best of intentions. It’s accepting the possibility that you might be too controlling or critical.
KNOW WHEN TO WALK AWAY: Arguments take two people. Learn to recognize when a situation is going downhill and know when to take an adult time-out. Continue the conversation when it’s less tense. Diffuse a bad moment and improve it by acknowledging your spouse for his or her efforts and by sharing your determination to make things work. This includes negotiating and compromising, which is nearly impossible if each person is trying to prove he or she is right. It might take time, but it can and will happen if you continue to work on it when you’re both open to sorting out the details.
KEEP EACH OTHER INFORMED: In a relationship, one person might handle the money, but that doesn’t mean the other person shouldn’t be aware of the finances, too. You can’t work toward shared goals if one person is in the dark. Some might feel as if they need permission before spending. This is a topic for your regular money talks. Maybe each of you can have an “allowance” that you can spend without handing over receipts. In my home, we agree that any purchase over $20 is shared. We’re both able to see our bank accounts online, so I don’t have to show a receipt for a pack of gum, but we consult each other before making larger purchases. It’s respecting that we have an equal say in where our money goes.
SEEKING HELP: Sometimes, one person in the marriage won’t get on board. It’s hurtful and frustrating. Many turn to financial advisers for help. Consider marriage counseling, too. You might discover the root of the problem doesn’t lie with the amount of money available or how and where it’s spent. Understand that even after counseling, you’re bound to have financial disagreements, but you’ll be able to differentiate relationship problems from money problems, narrow your differences and work together to make progress.