Many couples find it hard to talk about money. Some try, but it often turns into an argument. Others have given up trying or avoid the topic altogether, which sadly, hasn’t solved their problems either. There are many reasons why couples have trouble communicating about money. Here are 4 you might recognize:
Money Messages and Beliefs with Money
How money was talked about in your previous relationships will definitely influence your current one, but it goes way beyond that. When you were a child growing up how money was talked about or dealt with in your family has contributed to your habits today. In my household when I was a child – money was a taboo subject and never discussed. It was none of our business as a kid, we were to be seen and not heard. Consequently I had to learn from trial and error, and there was a lot of error. Some people had an opportunity to learn money management skills growing up; but like myself I didn’t. In some households, money was tight, so as an adult, someone may try to take steps to avoid the consequences of not having enough money. For other families, having enough money was never the issue; so as an adult, learning how to make wise choices is important.
Different Communication Styles
Most people don’t choose to talk about money. And when they do, it can bring out the worst in some. Some people are quite passive and avoid expressing their thoughts and feelings. But by not defending themselves, they often feel resentful, anxious or even hopeless. When it comes to money, someone else might then make the decisions about spending, saving and taking on debt for them, making the other partner feel like they have no say or no control.
Others are overly confident and express themselves in a powerful, “my way or the highway” manner and can be seen as taking over. They are often unclear but try to dominate conversations to compensate. In a partnership you should want to work together to achieve goals, and so it is important that both partners have a say in the financial decisions that are being made.
Sometimes a partner doesn’t send clear messages about what they want or what their intentions are. This can lead to a lack of communication and bring out the worst in people, you end up thinking that your partner is being sneaky. Some will spend for revenge or hide money from their partner.
In a perfect world you would share your thoughts and feelings respectfully. You are up front and honest without putting someone else down. You know how to listen and reflect on what you are hearing from the other person.
This is the most stressful on a couple’s relationship. Secrets about spending, saving or debt get in the way of open and honest communication and can be damaging to personal relationships. These secrets can rear their ugly head at the most inopportune time; at the bank when a joint loan application reveals more than someone expected; a credit card bill that the other person knew nothing about; or purchased items stashed in a closet. “Is that new?” asks your partner, “No – I have had this for a long time, just have not worn it in a while!” Sound familiar?
Different Values When it Comes to Money
It can be really hard to communicate with your partner when you both have different ideas about what is important and what you want to do with your money. Our values are what are important to us. That’s why when couples argue about money, the real issue they’re arguing about is much deeper and harder to see. When it comes to money, we tend to spend it on things we value. For example, when someone values safety and security, they may want to keep their savings account at a certain level, stick to a budget and avoid excessive debt. If someone values freedom and excitement, they may throw caution to the wind with their money and spend more recklessly.
“Shari, what do we do if we argue about money?” If you and your partner fight rather than talk about your finances, you have to get help and learn how to talk about money. You need to have a MAP – a Money Action Plan so that you’ve got a budget and goals that you can work with together.