Money & Marriage: Let’s Talk It Out

One of the biggest challenges facing marriages today is the issue of money.  Couples today struggle talking peacefully about money.  It’s pretty well documented that money fights are among the top reasons for divorce in America.  Couples find the only way to discuss money is to fight about it.  This doesn’t have to continue.  I suggest there are 3 ways to handle talking about money.  Please read on and I hope you’ll find some advice that helps your marriage.

TALK EARLY.  There are present money decisions and future money decisions.  Couples need to discuss future expenses long before they get there.  To talk early is about planning.  Oftentimes couples may see a future expense coming (putting tires on car, going on vacation, buying those new outfits) but never sit down to decide how to afford these expenses.  “We’ll get to it” seems to be the attitude.  Instead of setting aside money each month, couples get right up to the event then let VISA take care of the need.  Several months after that vacation they view that larger VISA bill and say, “Why can’t we get ahead?”  You’re not talking early.  You’re not looking at your short-term and long-term goals.  If you don’t talk about it, how can you plan for it?  Talking early will prevent such financial landmines from destroying the peace in your marriage.

2) TALK OFTEN.  Money decisions happen many times a day.  For a couple to have peace, they must be able to discuss money issues freely.  Maybe you and your partner set a limit on what you can purchase without consulting the other.  Needs can change in your family.  Adjustments are necessary in your budget.  My wife is respectful enough to call me when she’s making a purchase that wasn’t in our plan.  Because of her accountability we will oftentimes make the purchase if it’s reasonable and doesn’t bust our budget.  It’s better to discuss these things as they occur rather than one of you learning about it later.  I can promise you that NOT talking about money will NOT work.  Spending decisions are something we make everyday.  Being able to talk often about money will ensure a better relationship.

3) TALK PEACEFULLY.  This one is the kicker.  How can you talk peacefully about money?  You and your spouse have to define how this will work.  Think about the times and places you have talked peacefully about money issues.  Continue to visit those places and times.  If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.  You may be among those that hasn’t experienced peace in discussing money.  My first suggestion is for you both to agree that handling money right is a foundation for your marriage.  If you can agree on that issue, you can begin to make the atmosphere for healthier money talk.  You and your spouse need to block off uninterrupted time to discuss the finances of your daily life.  If you have no children, finding the place and time shouldn’t be that difficult.  Those with children may have to wait until the little ones are off to bed.  You need some ground rules for these money talks.  Here are a few suggestion: Use normal tone of voice; no blaming allowed; discuss finances only; and time outs are allowed.  Adults need time to cool down.  It’ OK to agree to discuss some items later.  Note: Discussing it “later” doesn’t mean 6 months from now.  Agree on a time no less than 2 weeks away.  Issues that linger undiscussed can become explosive landmines for your marriage.

Make the choice.  Talk about money.  Discussing it early, often and peacefully will put you on the path to a happier marriage. 

Thanks for your time.

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