A recent story on the Shine blog discusses A recent story on the Shine blog discusses 7 Signs Divorced Couples Say They Missed.
Not surprisingly, five of the seven involve money.
Because financial issues are so paramount to your entire existence, staying away from the money fight could be the key to a happy marriage. However, even if you want to make peace with a partner that you’re fighting about money with, it takes two to actually make a relationship better.
When I counseled couples it often seemed that there were strains when certain subjects were broached….how often they talked about money….what goals they shared….how they’d take care of aging parents.
It may always be difficult to talk about these topics, but it doesn’t have to be the death knell for your marriage.
Here are some tips to help firm up your discussions about money:
Ask thoughtful questions about bills. Don’t ask “How come you didn’t pay the water bill?” That one ends in divorce. Instead, say “What do you think we should do to pay the bills on time?”
Share money tips that you read online. Over dinner make money fun. Begin with some fun tips you read here at Stacking Benjamins or elsewhere (in the inferior parts of the blog world).
Ask to do financial chores together. If your spouse normally looks at bills without you, volunteer to look with them. Take an interest in whatever financial tasks they handle. By the same token, if you handle everything, ask them if they’d like to be involved. “Hey, I’m sitting down to do the bills. Would you like to look at them with me?”
Often when I’d suggest this, a client would say, “They’ll just say no. That’s not gonna work.” You have to play the long view. It doesn’t matter that they say no….it’s only that you asked. It’s true that you can’t change your spouse, but you can change yourself. By asking them to participate you’re keeping open lines of communication.
Talk long term. Give thought to your long term goals and bring these up with your spouse. Many times when people are struggling with money, it comes down to priorities. “When do you think we should retire?” “When do you think we’ll want our next car?” By asking longer term questions, you’re beginning to plan for a future…one that’s together.
Visit a financial advisor together. If I were still an advisor, this one would sound self-serving. It doesn’t matter if you hire the advisor, but sometimes a third person can open up your spouse about goals that you weren’t able to discuss one-on-one. It was funny….I could often see couples sit closer together during their meetings with me, and it was a fantastic feeling to know that I was able to help people begin communicating openly about their finances. I’ll bet on a few occasions some people were headed home for some great sex after they left my office! Ha!
Will these steps fix a troubled relationship? Maybe. Maybe not. While financial issues are often involved in marital disputes, sometimes there are other circumstances involved. At the most, working together toward your financial goals can help open up your relationship so you stop struggling with money. At the least, it’ll help you personally learn to communicate better about money and know that at the very least you tried everything in your power to make your relationship work.Photo: ben pollard