You might not realize it, but nearly every decision you make on a given day involves money. You decide if you’re going to make your morning coffee or grab something at the local coffee shop. You drive to work or take public transportation, pack a lunch or order out. The way you and your partner communicate about those little decisions – and the big ones too! – is called your financial relationship. And if you’re like most couples, your financial relationship can always use some help.
There are three main reasons a spouse won’t talk about money and therefore hurting the financial relationship: one person may have always been the “financial manager” in the relationship, one may be disinterested in the finances or one may have made a mistake with the finances in the past. Here’s how to overcome these hurdles:
- “Because I am the financial manager in the relationship”:
In most relationships, there’s one person who is either better at dealing with money, who has more time to take care of the bookkeeping, or who just likes to take care of the finances. But even for those who love a balanced checkbook, being the only person keeping an eye on the bottom line can become a burden. Breaking out of the established roles can make a big difference in your financial relationship. Instead of one person bearing the weight of it all, you can share the responsibility – and the joy – that comes from building a healthy financial relationship together.Solution: If you’re the money manager in your relationship, it’s time to share the load. Take your spouse out on a date and let her know why this is becoming a burden for you and that you want to make sure she’s involved in your finances. Start off with a statement like, “I’m concerned you’re not up to speed on what is happening with our family finances. I think it would be a good idea for you to get a snapshot of what’s going on and give me your feedback. Can you take an hour with me this weekend and look at what is happening with our finances?” This time together can lead to a regular Money Huddle where you work together to stay on top of the financial details of your life together.
- “Because my spouse is disinterested in the finances”:
Everyone has what we call a Money Personality. One of those Money Personalities is called the Flyer. Flyers tend to fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to finances – they don’t make plans, they don’t know how much money they have, and they really don’t care to know. But a healthy financial relationship takes both partners. That means the Flyer has to be engaged in financial conversations therefore improving the financial relationship.Solution: Flyers often disengage from money talk because it overwhelms them. They tend to be “here-and-now” people, and thinking too much about the future – especially the financial future – seems like too much. If you’re in a relationship with a Flyer, we suggest asking a few innocuous questions to help your Flyer join in on your financial relationship:
- Do our finances ever concern you?
- Would you be willing to help me with the family finances? In what ways would you like to help?
- How can we make the most of the strengths of your Money Personality?
- “Because my spouse made mistakes with money in the past”:
When one person in a relationship has had bad luck with money – massive credit card debt, a business deal gone bad, bankruptcy – it can be difficult for the couple to move into a healthy financial relationship. That’s because either the person with the painful past thinks he’s an idiot when it comes to money and would rather let someone else handle it or his spouse thinks he’s an idiot when it comes to money and would rather handle it herself. He doesn’t trust himself and his spouse doesn’t trust him either.Solution: Whether you’re the one who’s made financial mistakes or your spouse is, the way to get past it is the same. You’ve got to let go of the past and start fresh. Show some grace – to yourself, to your partner – and move on. If you’re really stuck, try these conversation starters to move toward forgiveness and a new beginning:
- Do you think I hold the past financial mistakes you made over your head? What would you like me to do differently?
- What would it take to leave the past behind and start again?
- I feel alone in our family finances. What can we do to come together?
Money Huddle Tip: During your next Money Huddle, spend some time asking each other this question: What would you like from me when it comes to our family finances?
We know addressing these hurdles will bring you closer. If you have any questions about this or any other areas about your financial relationship, please feel free to email us.
Make It Happen!
Scott and Bethany Palmer
The Money Couple
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