Well first off – what kind of listener are you? During a disagreement, do you find yourself planning your defense? Does your mind wander? Do you stop listening if a subject is difficult to understand? So listen for the main points and then ask a question if you don’t understand something.
The most important thing is to be careful not to criticize, argue or give feedback that keeps your partner from expressing their feelings. If you start ordering, directing or commanding them – it will tell your partner that their feelings, values or needs are not important.
Telling them that if they don’t control their spending you’ll cut up their charge cards, can make a person feel inadequate, inferior or worthless. Saying, “It’s your fault we don’t have any money” can hurt a person’s self-image or cause discouragement and anger. When you tell them what should or ought to be done it can result in them digging their feet in even more, resisting and defending their position with even more intensity. Sometimes being told how to solve a problem makes a person feel incompetent to make wise decisions.
Try using “I …” messages in your communication. The words you choose and especially your tone of voice can fuel or diffuse an argument. Your partner will be more likely to hear you if you use “I-Messages” instead of “You-Messages.” “You-Messages” tend to be verbal attacks of blame and criticism. “I-Messages” focus on you and your feelings.
Use these three statements in your money talk…
1. “I feel …” Make a clear statement of how you feel.
2. “When you …” Name the specific behavior that caused you to feel that way.
3. “Because …” Say why the behavior or event is upsetting.
An example of this would be…instead of this: “You never record the amounts of the cheques you write.” Try this: “I feel frustrated when you don’t record the cheque amounts because I don’t want to pay fees for a bounced cheque.”
But remember: “I-Messages” have those three specific parts. Just starting a sentence with “I” doesn’t make it an “I-message.”
I believe that if a problem is worth arguing about, it is worth unraveling. Acknowledge that there is a problem and get your feelings out in the open. It is crucial to make sure you identify the real problem. I don’t know if you know this :roll: but money issues are often emotionally charged! Make sure you organize and write down what your concerns are with records and facts rather than guesses. And most importantly… be sure the issue is really money!
It’s imperative that you just discuss the identified problem. Keep personalities, past complaints or other problems out of it. Brainstorm alternatives and list all the possible actions or solutions no matter how ridiculous they may seem at the time.
No one should comment on suggestions until the list is complete. Then discuss each alternative and agree on a possible solution. Write it down, a compromise may be the best answer. Both of you should feel that your wishes were considered and then make every effort to support the solution. Identify and avoid obstacles, and recognize that there may be necessary sacrifices from both of you.
Perfect resolutions are rare so keep the lines of communication open while working out your solutions. Each of you needs to feel understood, appreciated and loved. It is so much better to create win – win situations… after all this is the person you care about!
PS – If you need a referee and money coach – call me! 8-)