I recently did an article that focused on couples’ arguments about money. Money can definitely put a wrench in any relationship. The discussion needs to be had, but it’s not always easy starting the conversation. To be honest, talking about money in a relationship can be awkward, especially if it’s a new relationship. Not only do we risk airing all of our dirty financial laundries, but if our financial situation is not that great, we risk scaring off what could otherwise be a great partner to build a relationship with.
So, just how should you go about ‘the talk’ about money in a relationship? Here are several tips to help get you talking about money.
Make a Date To Have “The Talk”
It might seem a little awkward to start talking about money out of the blue. So, give your significant other a heads-up. Arrange a time for the two of you to sit down and have a serious conversation about money. Planning ahead gives both of you time to prepare what you need to say and how you should say it.
Agree To Disagree
It’s okay if the two of you have different opinions about money. One of the first things you want to do is realize that. Just because someone doesn’t think like you about money, it shouldn’t be a deal breaker for the relationship, but it could easily come between the two of you if you let it. When you start the conversation understanding that you value each other’s opinions no matter how different they are, it gives you room to listen to one another, learn about one another, and learn from one another.
Focus on Each Other’s Strengths
Not everyone is great at dealing with money. For some, it’s a definite weakness, and they could use some help in that area. But there’s more to the relationship than just money. So, be sure to recognize each other’s strengths—what each of you brings to the relationship. In most relationships, you’ll find that one person is usually a little stronger in certain areas than the other person. When you know the strengths each one brings to the relationship, it will help you to see that while money values are important to the relationship, the entire relationship shouldn’t be based on that.
If you see this relationship going to the next level or if you’re starting to hear wedding bells in the distant future, you may want to let your significant other know some particulars about your financial situation, like if you’re in extreme debt with student loans up to your ears, have an extremely low credit score, or recently filed for bankruptcy. Those are not things they should learn about after the two of you become one. When this type of information is found out after the fact, it can be seen as negative and dishonest. This can ultimately present an endless string of issues for the relationship early on before the honeymoon phase even ends. That is why “the talk” is so crucial in the first place. There are just certain things the two of you should know about one another before tying the knot, and your financial status is one of them. Be open and honest initially to alleviate the stresses of lying and deceit throughout the relationship.
Share Your Values
Even when you both don’t see eye to eye on spending practices, there may be ways to meet each other halfway by sharing what you value. Understanding what’s important to one another makes for a great opening for compromise so that it’s a win for both of you. By the same token, you can share each other’s dreams and goals and how you plan to get there financially.
Don’t Try To Address All The Money Issues at Once
When it comes to money, a lot could be addressed. But as the saying “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” goes, I can say the same about money. While there may be a lot that needs to be addressed, allow yourselves the space, you need to thoughtfully think through scenarios in response to how to resolve them. Don’t try to resolve all your money issues in one sitting. That can be extremely overwhelming and dangerous for the relationship.
Be Understanding With One another
Remember that the two of you weren’t raised under the same roof. There will be things said that will likely blow your mind. You may not understand and may not think it even makes sense. But remember, it makes sense to them. Be understanding to one another. Try to see things from their perspective. Money can be a vulnerable subject for some, especially if they were raised with little. Sincerely trying to understand why they feel the way they do about money could be a big step in building trust and can boost the relationship.
Talk About Money Regularly
Doing it regularly is truly the only way to get comfortable talking with your significant other about money. Make it a habit to schedule such talks. Before you know it, the two of you will plan your future goals and discuss ways to accomplish them. You may even reach a point where you won’t need to schedule the talks; they just sort of happen naturally and will not be awkward.
The Bottom Line
Talking about money can be awkward in any relationship, new or otherwise. But it becomes easier to do the more it’s done. Start off by letting your partner know the talk needs to happen. They shouldn’t feel intimidated by this or feel that you think they’re hiding something. On the contrary, they should understand that a bond is forming and that talking about money is a natural next step in the relationship.
Being understanding, willing to listen, and seeing beyond their money woes are the keys to having successful discussions about money in your relationship. If you’ve been avoiding ‘the talk,’ now’s the time to talk to your partner about money. Make a date to have ‘the talk’ today.