Our financial counselors often find themselves helping married couples try to unravel problems caused at least in part by a failure to communicate. The saddest part about these types of issues is that so many of them could have been avoided with a few minutes a month of face-to-face time. To help stave off financially damaging silence in your relationship, follow the below tips to keep the lines of communication open and productive.
Create Goals Together
One of the best ways to create a platform for great money discussions is to work together to create shared goals. That way, when you talk about why you want to do certain things with your shared money, you have established what exactly it is you are working toward.
Understand and Appreciate Different Money Styles
Many people in relationships find that they grew up in a household or have past experiences that give them a different perspective than their partner. If your significant other has unique attitudes or practices surrounding money, work to show that you understand and value those ideas instead of trying to criticize or change them.
To get the most out of your financial talks, it helps to not only have easy access to your important financial papers or data, but also to make a list of the topics you want to discuss. This will keep the meeting focused and carve out a more efficient path to finding solutions.
Don’t Bring in Outside Issues
Do your best to not bring non-financial qualms to the table when you have your money talks. They only make it harder to achieve successful outcomes with your money.
Keep a Positive Partnership Perspective
Instead of demanding, “You need to do this” or “You need to stop that”, keep the focus on each doing your part to reach the goals you have set for yourselves. No one likes to be henpecked for their mistakes or shortcomings. If you are too negative, you risk creating a toxic environment around money discussions.
Schedule a Regular Check-in
Irregular or unfocused talks can actually do more harm than good since they can give the impression that everything is in tip-top shape. Set a time at least once a month – with TV off and other distractions eliminated – to have a full conversation about any pressing financial matters.
Once you are finished with your money talk, summarize what was decided and what the next steps are. This will help to make sure there aren’t any misunderstandings or that a ball doesn’t get dropped.
You may find that it helps to have a neutral third party go over your finances with you. A counselor trained in reviewing budgets and other financial information can help you sort through a lot of the matters for which you and your significant other aren’t finding common ground.
You’ve probably been told that marriages/relationships take work. The same is true with your money matters. But by being committed to communicating in a meaningful and effective way, you can save yourself a lot of heartache down the road.