Many couples avoid talking about money. It’s uncomfortable. It feels unnatural. They are afraid of starting a fight. They are embarrassed about their debt or income level. They are just plain tired at the end of the day.
Oftentimes, failure to discuss money leads to tension in the relationship. One partner may have misgivings about the other’s decisions. By not addressing the problem directly, the issue becomes the elephant in the room. This leads to mistrust.
Marital problems often revolve around blame for a negative financial decision. When the decision was not made as a couple, or when couple fails to communicate their true opinions, one partner may blame the other. When couples talk about money honestly and make decisions together, blame becomes moot. They share financial successes and failures equally.
By many estimates, half of all divorces result from financial stress. With so many marriages destroyed by money issues, it makes sense for couples to learn how to start a conversation with their spouse about money. By discussing money honestly and coming to an agreement about how to manage it, they come closer together rather than letting money drive them apart.
How do you overcome the all too common urge to avoid talking about money? David Weliver, founding editor of Money Under 30, recommends not making too big a deal of it. Waiting until a big purchase decision or until you are upset leads to stress and frustration. Instead, talk a little bit every day and keep the tone relaxed and casual. Money talks shouldn’t feel like a cross-examination or a high-pressure sales tactic. They should be a mutually beneficial discussion.
Weliver also notes the importance of respecting each other’s differences. No couple sees eye to eye on everything. It’s important to focus on each other’s strengths. If one half of the couple loves to shop and the other loves to save, divide the budget and responsibilities accordingly.
Talking about values always matters. It’s particularly important when considering big purchases. If both partners must contribute to a mortgage or rent payment, it’s important that the decision of what to buy reflects both partner’s values. Talking about what’s important in terms of neighborhood, size, and features helps define what makes both halves of the couple happy.