Money issues can be a touchy subject in many relationships, but it is possible to have drama-free discussions about money. Marriage counseling that focuses on financial health looks at the underlying issues that make productive conversations about finances challenging. This work can be difficult, but it’s essential. Getting on the same page around money is an important task for every couple as they create their shared life together!
Why Money Issues Matter For Couples
It’s not just a generally nice idea to have a joint approach to finances, it’s a necessity for a happy, healthy, and enduring relationship!
Research shows that not only can financial conflict be one of the leading causes of divorce and disharmony among couples, but that the presence of financial conflict is also linked to a higher likelihood of divorce than the presence of other types of conflict, including parenting and sexual dysfunction. Yikes!
That’s why it’s incredibly important for you to get on the same page with your partner about finances. It is essential for couples to be actively talking together about not just financial couple goals, but the realities of financial hardships, and unflinching honesty about their financial situation.
Why Couples Fight About Money
Money is a hot-button issue for many couples because it is tied to powerful and often deep-seated emotional triggers. Money can be strongly tied to core values, life goals, a sense of security, and even existential feelings, like your purpose in life.
Couples will have differences in financial values, financial life experiences, and old messages about money instilled in them by their families of origin. There is a lot to talk through.
Productive conversations about money can be challenged by the swift and powerful emotions that come up when we start to talk about money with our partners, like anxiety, defensiveness, a fear of being controlled, and even a sense of judgment.
When productive communication about money is hindered, it can feel impossible to create shared financial goals, a sustainable budget that feels good for both of you, and a sense of shared purpose.
When couples start fighting about money and communication shuts down altogether, it can even lead to things like financial infidelity or financial abuse of a partner. Not okay!
Tips On Tackling Couples’ Finances
So, to help you have important, necessary, and productive conversations with your partner about finances, I’ve invited my colleague, Denver marriage counseling expert Meagan T., MA, LMFT.
Meagan is an emotional intelligence coach as well as a couples therapist, and she has provided financial counseling for couples for many years. Meagan is spilling the beans and providing both insight and actionable tips for how you can talk to your spouse about money without fighting (or tears!)
How To Create A Drama-Free Relationship With Money
Here are some of the financial counseling for couples tips that Meagan shared:
- You CAN Create Alignment Around Finances: It takes good intentions, a willingness to compromise, good communication, and a fairly high degree of emotional intelligence.
- Focus on Emotional Safety: When you both feel heard, supported, and understood it’s much easier to talk about everything, including hot-button issues like money.
- Release Judgment: It is so easy to think that our values, perspectives, and ways of doing things are “the right way.” However, that belief will create a barrier when it comes to having productive communication about money. Release them and practice open curiosity instead.
- Practice Emotional Intelligence: Communicating about money requires the ability to manage your own feelings, and communicate with empathy and tact. Focusing on your own emotional responses will allow you to stay in a good place during high-stakes conversations.
These are only a few of the tips for how to talk to your spouse about money without fighting that Meagan so generously shared. So many more helpful tips for you around:
- What to do and what NOT to do, in order to keep communication constructive
- What to prioritize first if you’re running into financial issues as a couple
- The behaviors you MUST avoid if you want to avoid unnecessary conflict and strife
- The best money apps for couples
- The financial values inventory that Meagan always recommends to her marriage counseling clients
And even MORE expert relationship advice. All for you, on this episode of the podcast.
All the best,
Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self. She is a licensed psychologist, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and a board-certified coach, as well as the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.
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