One of the biggest points of contention in many marriages is money. It’s a hot-button topic that can send even the most level-headed couples into a heated frenzy. Why is that? For whatever reason, people are passionate about money, and everyone comes into a marriage or relationship with preconceived ideas, values, and experiences regarding how to handle money. When those ideals don’t mesh with one’s partner’s, it inevitably causes tension.
So, how do you talk to your significant other about money matters? Ideally, this is one topic that would have be discussed at length before you entered a serious relationship, but as we all know, we don’t live in a perfect world, right? As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago; the second-best time is today. So, even if you are well entrenched in your relationship, it’s never too late to have a conversation about money in an effort to get on the same page as your spouse.
Not sure where to start? Here are some money-related topics to include in your discussion:
How will/should we handle the household bills?
In some relationships, the bills are simply paid out of the household coffers, and that’s that. For others, it works better for each member to have his or her own bank account, out of which a certain bill or bills gets paid each month. It’s important to discuss this with your spouse so you know what they expect. If their ideas differ from yours, you may have to come up with a compromise.
Do we have to discuss every expenditure?
For some couples, it’s important that they discuss every expenditure with each other. For others, it’s important to have discretionary spending abilities that don’t require a discussion with their partner. Ask questions like how much money, if any, your partner feels you should each be able to spend without the consent of the other person.
How will we discuss money matters in the future?
Aside from the financial discussion, we are talking about here, how will you discuss money issues moving forward? Will you have regular “meetings” to touch base, or will you discuss things as they come up?
A few more tips for talking to your spouse about money:
Make an appointment to talk about money. Put down your phones, make sure the kids are in bed or at school and have an honest and open discussion about your financial situation today and any goals you have for the short- and long-term. Never schedule these meetings when either of you will be stressed or tired, as this can lead to flare-ups and arguments that aren’t necessary. If you do find yourself in need of a little extra cash someday, you can look here for advice.
When you do have your meeting, be sure to come prepared with issues, paperwork, concerns, plans, and ideas. The meeting will only be successful and useful if things actually get resolved!
Be willing to compromise! It’s extremely unlikely that you will agree with your partner on everything, so it’s important to go into financial discussions with an open mind and be willing to compromise on some things.
Remember not to let your emotions run over you in these financial discussions. Money is a very personal and sometimes contentious thing in relationships, but it’s very important not to be ruled by emotions in discussions with your partner. Be calm and rational, and talk, talk, talk! The only way to resolve issues is to talk them through and, as much as possible, get on the same page as your partner. Always bear in mind that nothing is more important than your relationship, and money is only a means to buy things. You can’t replace your partner, and hurt feelings can’t easily be mended all the time, so choose your words carefully and put your relationship first. There will no doubt be differences of opinion and discussions (sometimes even heated discussions) about money in your relationship, but with an open mind and a healthy measure of compromise, you and your partner can have a healthy financial relationship for years to come!
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