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Talking About Money With Your Spouse…

In my practice I have found that many couples will talk about anything (anything!) before they will delve into a conversation about finances or their financial plan for the future. Why is it so challenging for many couples to talk about money? If you take some time to think about it, money symbolizes unique things to all of us. We all grew up in families of origin where money was handled differently. What messages did you get about money growing up in your family? How was money handled? Was it openly discussed or was it hidden?

Money can mean many things: power, security, control, or even love.

In my clinical experience, it seems that the more proactive conversation you can have with your partner about money before you have to make major financial decisions, the happier you’ll be in your relationship.

Research estimates that money issues are behind 90% of divorces today…but I believe and educate many of the couples I work with that money does not have to be a taboo or difficult subject to tackle. Here are some tools to help you talk with your spouse and handle the topic of finances in a healthy and constructive way. Read on!

–I advise many couples to set aside a specific time to talk each month about finances. Doing this (although not easy at first!) can help you avoid difficult conversations when they’re least expected or when you may already be feeling upset by something else going on. By setting aside time, you can prepare and know what to expect from the conversation. There may still be disagreements about finances, but because you’re talking about money on a regular basis,  it’s less likely to be upsetting or feel unsafe. Don’t wait until your spouse is upset or you find yourselves arguing over a credit card bill. Bring up the subject of finances when both of you are feeling calm and centered. The goal is to have a calm and constructive discussion when there’s no particular money issue causing friction.

–Try to not to shame or bring blame to the conversation. Many discussions around money can end in arguments. When you don’t blame or get defensive, chances are that things will proceed in a more constructive way. Remember that you are both on the same team and working towards building a secure financial future. Try to learn from past mistakes and move forward together. Try to model an open stance about money by first sharing your own feelings about a financial issue. This will most likey encourage your spouse to do the same. Share your feelings, experiences, and hopes about your finances. Do you have a future vision which you can share (i.e. one day owning a home or traveling to a special place?). Discuss how your family growing up dealt with money, what it meant to you when you were a child, and how you dealt with it in your past relationships with others.

–Be honest with yourself about how you feel. If you’ve always been independent, for example, it may be hard for you to be “taken care of” financially. If you have more assets than your partner, you may feel fear about risking your hard-earned money, or resentment if his or her spending habits are not good. You have to be honest with yourself about these feelings in order to be honest with your partner.

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