We aren’t going to tell you to stop fighting about money. That’s simply not possible. What we can help you do, however, is learn how to fight fair, to fight in a way that actually helps strengthen your financial communication. In First Comes Love, Then Comes Money, we lay out a detailed plan for resolving financial conflict. Here are steps you can take now to start fighting fair:
Agree that you will respect each other. No matter how angry you get, try to act like partners in your family business. Do your best to understand each other and your different perspectives on money. And agree to show each other grace when you violate these expectations.
Try to diffuse the situation. Take a deep breath, hold your tongue, and walk away if you need to cool down.
When you’re calm again, talk through the problem. Work together to come up with three or four possible compromises that help both of you get your needs met.
Keep your money personalities in mind. You are two unique people with unique perspectives on money. Do your best to see your partner’s perspective and respect his or her point of view.
Extend grace. Be willing to start fresh every day, no matter what happened yesterday. Be people who try to see the best in each other, who believe in each other, who are willing to put petty differences aside for the good of your relationship. You love each other. Do your best to show it.
We certainly don’t expect you to fight fair every time you argue—we don’t. But when you blow it, apologize, forgive, and move on. Be patient with each other, keep trying, and promise to do better the next time. You might only get it right 30% of the time. But that’s 30% more than you were doing before. Fighting fair is truly an art form. You won’t do it perfectly at first—and maybe never. But you can get better at it, conflict by conflict, week by week, month by month.