Talking about money with your spouse or partner is a major source of stress for most relationships. The folks at The Simple Dollar have some tips to make money talk a little easier though, and it starts with bringing your own faults to the table and doing your homework.
The core point The Simple Dollar makes here is that if you’re worried about money and use a discussion about it as a way to offload a laundry list of problems and issues you see — not just with the situation but with the other person’s behaviour — the conversation will naturally go south pretty quickly. Instead, The Simple Dollar says that any financial conversation with a partner should have some basic ground rules.
First, always remind yourself that the person sitting across from you is a human being. It sounds like common sense, but common sense goes out the window when heated discussions begin, and coming around to that point regularly can help keep the conversation civil. Second, bring your own flaws to the table:
The second one is that whenever you bring up a flaw you see in the other person, bring up a flaw in yourself or don’t mention it.
When someone comes to the table with a litany of things that you’ve done wrong, it can feel very much like an attack. When you feel attacked, you’re going to respond with either fight (you get angry) or flight (you shut it out). Neither outcome is good for a healthy discussion.
So, how does this work? Before we have any really deep money discussions, we put some thought in before the talk. We sit down, make some notes about what we want to say, and work through things beforehand. Part of that is a requirement that we self-analyze and look for our own mistakes as well.
It’s awfully hard to come to the table as an inquisitor when you’re holding a long list of your own mistakes.
The Simple Dollar goes on to explain how you shouldn’t use this as an excuse for bean-counting, as in “you have more flaws than I do” or “we’re talking about your big flaw, but here’s my little one to even things out”. Ultimately, the tactic is a way to share responsibility for the situation so you both can move forward and work on your money issues together, whether it’s fixing a broken budget or saving for the future. Plus, it shows your partner that there are more than enough mistakes to go around, so focusing on them instead of the goal at hand is counterproductive.
Check out the full piece at the link below for more detail and a few more tactics that can make talking about money issues with a partner less stressful and more productive.
Talking About Money Issues Without Fighting [The Simple Dollar]