Stress levels are high, and for many couples, this is affecting their ability to find time to connect. Online Marriage Counselor and Relationship Coach, Teresa Thomas, M.A., AP has 3 practical tips for productive communication for when you and your partner are both stressed.
Couples and Money: Drama-Free Couple Finances
Love and Money: Couple Finances
Couples and money can be a flashpoint in many relationships, that’s for sure. But it is possible to talk to your spouse about money without fighting. Financial therapy for couples looks at the underlying issues that make productive conversations about finances challenging. This work can be deep, but it’s essential: Couples and money is just where the work is, in many relationships.
Getting on the same page around money is an important task for every couple as they create their shared life together. We often address finances in premarital counseling, but it’s never too late to create unity and agreement around your financial future. Sooner or later, every couple has to!
Couples and Money: Financial Conflict Can Destroy a Relationship
It’s not just a generally good idea (like, “a nice thing”) to have a joint approach to finances, it’s necessary. Having a happy, healthy and enduring relationship may depend on it.
While many couples find finances to be an emotional trigger point that can easily lead to conflict, we also know, from research, that not only can financial conflict be one of the leading causes of divorce and disharmony among couples. It get’s even more sobering: The presence of financial conflict is also linked to a higher likelihood of divorce than the presence of other types of conflict. What that means is that having unresolved conflict about money is more toxic and damaging to your relationship than having unresolved conflict about anything else: parenting, priorities, and even sex! Yow!
So, it’s incredibly important for you to get on the same page with your partner about finances under any circumstances. But circumstances are not currently normal! (Thanks coronavirus!) Particularly in the current high-stakes environment that coronavirus has created in many marriages, it is essential for couples to be actively talking together about not just financial goals, but the realities of how they’re going to get through the lean times and come out the other side together.
Why Do Couples Fight About Money?
Money is a hot-button issue for many couples because it is tied to powerful, and often deep emotional triggers. Money can be strongly tied to core values, life-goals, a primal sense of security, and even existential needs around “what is the purpose of my life.”
Given the fact that couples always have differences in financial values, financial life experiences, and old messages about money that came from 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. Anxiety, defensiveness, a fear of being controlled, and even a sense of judgment can all be emotional obstacles that prevent our financial conversations from going smoothly.
And when productive communication about money is compromised, it feels impossible to create agreements and things like:
- Shared financial goals
- A financial plan for married couples
- A sustainable budget that feels good for both of you
- 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!
Financial Counseling For Couples: Couples and Money — Expert Tips
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 Terry, M.A., 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 Talk To Your Spouse About Money Without Fighting
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 — but it is possible.
- 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 conflict around 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 Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.