Have you ever had one of those money fights? You know the one. It usually includes a lot of “you need to do this, you need stop doing that”. Unfortunately, money fights and money problems are often cited as the number one cause of divorce. So, how can husband and wife communicate about money? It is especially tough if it has traditionally been something that causes arguments. Here are tips to keep in mind when communicating about money.
1. Pick a good time and place. You do not want to talk about a sensitive subject at the wrong time. If you are in the middle of paying bills and realize that you don’t have enough money in the checking account, you are probably highly stressed out. This is not the time to call your spouse in to discuss the finances. It may seem like a good time since it is on your mind, but it is not. Wait until you have calmed down about it and then discuss it. Neither one of you want to regret saying something in the heat of the moment.
2. Attack the problem. Remember that you are on the same team. If you devolve into accusing each other of things, no one wins. Do not attack each other, attack the problem instead. Start by discussing ways in which to fix the problem. Both of you working for the same common goal is more powerful than just one of you trying to solve the problem.
3. Be vulnerable. Sit down face to face with your spouse. Look them in the eye and take their hand in yours. Explain to your spouse why getting control of your finances is important to you. Unless you married a complete jerk, they will be open to what you have to say when it is presented this way.
4. Ditch the gadgets. Please, please, please do not have important conversations through e-mail, Facebook, or texting. You should not even do them over the phone. It is much better to have these talks in person (see above, #3).
5. Don’t make everything a catastrophe. Even if you are in a dire financial situation, it is not the end of the world. The more catastrophic you make the situation, the more you will bring raw emotions into the discussion. This makes it more likely to get out of hand and turn into a yelling match. Just remind each other that even if you lose your car, your house, and most of your money, you cannot allow this to take your marriage. You can earn or buy back the “stuff”. Hold onto each other and everything else will work itself out.
Discussing money, especially if you are in the middle of a crisis, can be one of the most difficult things to do in your marriage. The worst thing you can do, however, is never discuss it. The sooner you face it and deal with it, the easier it will be. Following the above guidelines will also help. Once you can start communicating and agreeing on your money, it is amazing how your entire marriage will improve. That is how important it is.