Do you ever find that your conversations with your spouse or significant other get derailed when the topic of money comes up? If you said yes, you’re not alone. This is a challenging area for most couples, and there is a solution.
One of my clients, Ryan, recently shared this story with me.
He said he was out with a group of friends (all guys) and they were talking about having particular touchy financial conversations with their wives. At one point, Ryan mentioned a specific subject and the others stopped and looked at him.
“How did you bring up that topic with your wife?” one friend asked. “I didn’t,” Ryan explained, “I had Eric do it.”
Research Proves That Money Arguments Are Common
Ryan wasn’t the only one having trouble communicating about money with his spouse. The rest of his friends said talking about money with their significant others usually lead to disagreements, confusion, or heated arguments.
And it’s not just Ryan and his friends. Research shows that fighting about money is a leading cause of relationship stress for most couples.
According to a recent SunTrust Bank survey, 35% of couples say finances are the leading cause of stress in their relationships. (“Annoying habits” came in second, with 25%.)
Think about the last time you had a money conversation with your significant other. How did that go? Good? Bad? Maybe you avoided it all together because you were afraid of the inevitable argument that would ensue.
We Each Have A Unique Money Mindset
Just because you argue over money doesn’t mean that your relationship is doomed. It just shows that we all grew up with different financial experiences and different money mindsets.
I often ask my clients to share their first memory of money. Some clients share how money used to be tight in their family and that parents often argued about finances. Others talk about how money was never an object and they always seemed to get what they wanted.
Whatever the memory, these experiences have etched patterns in our minds which still control how we approach our financial lives today.
Knowing this, it’s clear why couples argue over random money issues. Sometimes it’s about how much to save. However, it’s usually about how much to spend, and on what. Focusing on this specific area can alleviate much of the tension.
Here’s How to Stop Fighting About Money
The first thing to do is clear the air of myths, or false information. One partner may think that paying off a specific loan is the best way to go, when in fact, there is a better financial solution. But, who is right? Neither of you are financial experts, so it’s all just hearsay… until you bring in an expert.
When I have this conversation with my clients, we can focus on the facts, and then identify shared values and life commitments. Doing so allows couples to connect with one another around their goals, and from there we can work together to create a plan of action to achieve them.
Objectivity goes a long way. If we can just remove the emotions, we can actually communicate what’s most important in our lives. That’s obviously much easier said than done, which is why so many people in serious, committed relationships benefit from having an unbiased, professional third-party lead the way.
At the very least, I recommend setting up a recurring monthly financial meeting in your calendar so that you and your partner can sit down and chat about money. This is not a time to argue, it’s a time to speak openly about future goals, upcoming expenses, and how best to work together to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome.
You may find that simply being aware of how each of you think about money can allow you to communicate more effectively about other facets of your relationship.
And, of course, if you need some help starting this conversation, please reach out to me. My experience helping couples with their money conversations might help you remove an obstacle that is preventing you from living a life you love.