When you meet someone you have a romantic connection with, you love getting to know them. You ask questions and find out what you have in common, how close they are with their family, and what they like to do for fun. But do you ever talk about your finances?
One Brazilian study found that money was one of the biggest factors in relationship unhappiness. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that many couples find the prospect of revealing their income or discussing debts to be an awkward conversation starter.
Of course, when you first meet someone, this conversation topic is irrelevant. But the more serious your relationship becomes and topics of marriage or moving in together become more of a possibility, the subject of money is bound to come up.
So how can you do it without making things uncomfortable or having your spouse get defensive? Here are 8 ways to talk about money as a couple.
8 Ways To Talk About Money As a Couple
1# Choose a Relaxed Setting
Opening the door to talking about your finances as a couple is a delicate matter, so you must choose the right time to start your conversation.
Discussing delicate financial matters after a long and stressful day at work isn’t going to result in a productive or calm conversation.
Both partners must be in the right frame of mind to talk about money.
Choose a time when both of you are feeling happy and relaxed. Broach the subject gently and if your spouse doesn’t seem interested in talking, try asking “When is a good time to talk?”
2# Ask Get-To-Know-You Type Questions
Instead of jumping right into a deep conversation about your finances, experts say you should take baby steps.
Ask fun, get-to-know-you type questions. You know, the same kind that you did when you were first dating: What’s your favorite…? What would you do if…?
For example, ask your spouse what they would do if they won a million dollars. How they answer will give you insight into how they like to spend their money. If they said they would put the money into savings or pay off debts, you know that your spouse thinks about money responsibly. But if they say they would travel the world or buy a jet, you may get a better idea of why they ended up in debt in the first place.
Either way, this is a great conversation starter that can open you up to deeper conversations in a way that feels natural.
3# Be Honest
In a report done by Money Matters, 68% of couples surveyed said they would rather reveal how much their weigh than admit how money (or lack thereof) they had in their savings account.
Yes, it can be a bit embarrassing to reveal past financial mistakes or to talk about how much you earn each month, but it’s important not only for reaching your goals but building your relationship with your partner.
Be honest about your finances. If you have goals of saving money, buying a house, or paying off debts, you won’t be any closer to reaching them if you’re lying to your spouse about your current financial standing.
4# Learn How to Communicate
Communication is the cornerstone of a healthy, happy relationship. It helps you feel closer to your spouse, prevents misunderstandings from spiraling out of control, and allows you to share the personal aspects of your life – like your finances.
The key to healthy communication is striking a delicate balance between talking and listening. You can learn to do this through practice, or by taking an online marriage course and learning new techniques for talking.
Communicate about your debts, how you were brought up to view money, and how you want to merge your finances going forward. Listen without interruption and have empathy for what your partner is saying. Try and see things from their point of view.
5# Don’t Be Judgemental
How you react to what your partner shares with you about their financial background is important. Your reaction and response will decide whether your partner will ever confide in you again.
Saying “I can’t believe how irresponsible you are! How could you have racked up so much debt?” or “How are you so stingy when you make so much money?” are accusing and judgemental statements.
You never want to make your spouse feel attacked or judged. You want them to feel like you are partners who are ready to take on your financial futures as a team.
6# Set Proactive Goals Together
In a study reviewing 748 instances of marital conflict between 100 couples, money was found to be the most salient and repetitive and salient of topics. One way you can rid your relationship of negative financial conversations is by being proactive and positive about money matters.
Instead of wallowing over debts, create a plan as a couple on how to live debt-free.
Other great goals include buying a house, saving to start a family, travel, to retire, and the list goes on. Setting goals as a couple will deepen your connection and strengthen your commitment to both your finances and each other.
7# It Isn’t Personal
It’s important to remember that you’re not discussing your finances just to say “Ha-ha, I make more money than you!” or to feel ashamed about any debt you might have. It’s about making goals, paying bills, and working together as a team.
Your partner is probably just as uncomfortable as you broach the subject. But when it comes to money matters, it isn’t personal – it’s business.
8# Have Regular Financial Check-Ins
Couples who have money problems are more likely to suffer from mental health and stress disorders than other couples. This is no surprise – money is a stressful business! But the sooner you learn how to communicate about your finances, the easier it will become.
Have regular financial check-ins together. Experts suggest talking in a relaxed atmosphere and not letting your check-in go on for any longer than 15-minutes.
Check-ins are an excellent time to track your finances and talk about how you’re feeling. It also gives you the opportunity to celebrate your triumphs, such as paying off certain debts or staying on budget for the month.
The more you and your souse open up about money, the less awkward it will be to talk about. Schedule regular check-ins to discuss your monthly budget, be proactive about debt and learn how to communicate in a way that is healthy and fair. This will help you develop a healthier attitude toward your finances and your spouse.
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Author Bio: Sylvia Smith is a writer who likes to write about relationships and how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. She is currently associated with Marriage.com. She is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt its principles in their relationships. By taking purposeful and intentional action, Sylvia feels any relationship or marriage can be transformed and truly enjoyed.