When a couple is experiencing financial stress, it can seem nearly impossible to talk about money without fighting. Emotions run high and conversations can quickly turn into shouting matches and blame-a-thons. With 75% of Americans feeling money stress at least some of the time, and almost 25% experiencing extreme financial stress, the struggle is real. The good news is that it’s possible to talk about money without fighting if you follow these tips.
How to Talk about Money without Fighting
Time it right. Don’t bring up a touchy money subject as soon as your husband or wife walks in the door from a stressful workday. If the kids are screaming, the cat just threw up on the new carpet, or one or both of you are hangry, the conversation is not going to go well! Unless it’s a financial emergency, you’re better off waiting a bit so you both can relax and unwind. Pick a time when you are both calm, yet alert. Place matters, too. Initiate money conversations in private, preferably someplace with minimal distractions.
No blaming or yelling. If you’ve witnessed another couple arguing over money problems in public, you know what a train wreck that is! It shuts down the communication process and accomplishes nothing. I experienced this firsthand in a coaching session with a couple. I had to stand up in the middle of the session and say, “What you’re doing right now isn’t productive and I don’t allow yelling in my office. If you are ready to put this energy into seeking solutions and moving forward, we can continue. If not, our session will be over.” (Awkward!) If you start to raise your voice or yell, they will match your intensity. If you stay calm and quiet, they will most likely do the same.
Listen. Commit to really listening to your partner with the intent to understand their point of view. Your spouse’s parents likely handled money differently from yours, which means your husband or wife grew up with a completely different money paradigm than you did. Pretend you are a private investigator on a discovery mission. Determine to put your energy into finding common ground rather than blaming each other for past mistakes, even if they happened yesterday.
NOT talking about money is as bad as fighting about it. In fact, avoidance of money conversations might actually be worse. Small financial issues snowball into major money problems if you don’t address them as they occur. Even if your finances are “fine,” you should still be having regularly money conversations with your spouse on a weekly basis. Each of you might be making assumptions about the other’s financial needs and goals. You think that you’re on the same page, when in reality you’re not.
Focus on the future. Talk about WHY you want to make changes to the way you handle money as a couple. Most people resist change, unless there’s a compelling reason to embrace it. This is why I encourage all of my clients to create a financial vision board. Doing this as a couple gets you both excited about your money goals and dreams for the future.
By committing to communicating with your honey about finances on the reg, from a positive frame of mind, you’ll greatly increase your chances of talking about money without fighting.
Still not seeing eye-to-eye with spouse or partner? Financial coaching might be a good solution for you.