Conflicts over money can fatally damage your relationships. In surveys with couple’s money even ranks as one of the biggest reasons why married couples fight and can even be the catalyst for couples separating.
For many of us today, just covering the costs of the basics has become a struggle. We are fighting about an array of things including rising fuel prices, higher cost of groceries, never-ending charges for the kids’ school supplies and those mortgage costs that continue to go up.
This stress can cause all of us in relationships to boil over as we look to one another to blame for the problems. Oftentimes, these stressors cause us to bring up financial, as well as other, “sins of the past”.
The way to deal with the stress around money is to talk about it. Most of us avoid this conversation at all costs. Why? Because the very act of raising the topic involves stress! Most of us would rather just avoid the conversation altogether and hope it will somehow magically all get better. But guess what? It won’t get better; and will continue to get worse unless you deal with it.
Three Steps to Having the Money Conversation:
- Do a Reality Check
Firstly realize that delaying this conversation will result in more pain later. Money problems do not go away by themselves. If you put off having these important conversations with your partner they’ll only get worse. If you’re getting deeper and deeper in debt each month, then every month that goes by just means even more debt. You must make a decision that you will initiate this crucial conversation about money now so that you can actually have less pain later.
Ask for a calm and honest conversation with your partner about money. This conversation should be initiated from a sincere concern about your direction as a couple. Your partner should not be made to feel like they are being cross-examined. Otherwise, they will be on the defensive before the conversation even begins.
Expect to share all your “spending secrets” with your partner. Most often we see all the financial failings of others, but we conveniently forget about our own. Your conversation about money has the potential to either create a strong bond in your relationship or drive a wedge between you. It all depends on how you handle the conversation. You must both be completely honest.
- Accept Responsibility
A very important aspect of this conversation must be the willingness on both of your parts to accept full responsibly for where you are. This means to accept full blame for all of the things that each of you did that may have caused the current situation and to accept responsibility for the actions you both need to take to remedy it.
This conversation can be challenging and painful. But it can also be rewarding and profitable. You might even see your relationship begin to change for the better once you deal with the underlying negative thoughts and emotions.
Begin this conversation with a spirit of openness. If you set the tone in the beginning of this conversation with a positive attitude and approach, things should go much better. And regardless of the issues that must be discussed, mutual respect is very important for continuing to build a healthy relationship.
- Moving On
At some point, both of you may need to “agree to disagree” over something from the past and move on. Being the bigger person can save you frustration and further future financial problems.
It might be helpful for you and your partner to schedule regular “money meetings” and to even establish a budget for you both to follow. You may even begin to make some progress in your financial life as you have these talks more often and begin to really control your finances with a clear plan in place. It might even open the way for you to talk about other important issues again or maybe even for the first time.
While showing respect, you may have to address serious spending problems and other issues. The key here is to focus on resetting where you are heading. Money problems created in the past cannot be erased, but you can start over with a new plan for the future.
So until next time – Relate with Love