Finances can be a major source of stress in a relationship. In fact, for many couples it causes so much stress that they don’t even bring it up.
However, this is not the best strategy. This is like using an emotional credit card to buy temporary happiness now, but which you’ll have to pay off in the future – with interest!
So what are some strategies that couples can use to tackle their finances together without causing unneeded misery?
Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash
Acknowledge that neither of you are “crazy”
When having a discussion about finances, it’s important to realize that neither of you are crazy. Everyone has a different perspective because they’ve had different experiences, and different role models.
For instance, many millennials have now lived through two of the biggest drops in the stock market in history. And many saw their parents’ pensions or 401ks diminished or erased because of it. Because of this, it’s no surprise that many millennials are afraid of investing in the stock market, despite the subsequent economic recoveries.
Similarly, your spending and saving habits probably differ from your significant other because of what you’ve each learned or experienced in life. You might be tempted to dismiss each other’s concerns or beliefs, but that won’t lead to a fruitful conversation. Instead, acknowledge the fact that you each have something to learn from the other.
One helpful tool to help you reach that level of understanding is to role play as each other.
If you hit a stumbling point in the conversation, stop and take a moment to each role play as the other person. Make your best argument for your significant other’s point from their perspective. Check in to see if you’ve understood their point of view.
Once you can really advocate for each other, take a moment to find a middle ground that truly meets both of your needs.
If you’re truly advocating for each other, instead of being stressful, finances can be an opportunity to grow closer by learning about each other’s world view.
Clearly define your goals
When working on a team, it’s important to have clearly defined and measurable goals. This holds true in relationships as well. Clear goals help you get in sync with each other, whether that goal might be saving for a house, children’s education, or retirement.
A couple that isn’t working towards the same goals will often find themselves competing against each other instead of supporting each other.
When discussing finances, take a moment to imagine what your ideal outcomes will be. Picture a perfect day 5 years in the future, and then 10 years in the future. Answer these questions to build up the specificity of this idyllic moment:
- Who’s there?
- Where are you?
- What are you doing?
- What do you sense around you? (Use all five senses)
Sometimes this will help you make wonderful discoveries about each other. For instance, maybe your partner’s most important goal is to travel with family. Maybe you realize that your perfect day isn’t as filled with activity as you believed, and is instead centered around a casual barbeque with friends.
Who knows what discoveries this exercise could lead to!
An objective third person could help
Discussing finances can be difficult and frustrating as each side has trouble maneuvering the frustrating and chaotic emotions that are often linked to savings, spending, and debt. It can be difficult to advocate for our significant other’s perspective if our own point of view is too overpowering. Does this mean that finances will doom the relationship?
If you’re experiencing this, an objective financial advisor could be your answer. Financial advisors often have to deal with couple’s problems, and have strategies and tools to help them get out of the woods.
If you think an expert could help you transform your finances from a stressor in your relationship to an empower conversation starter, click here to create a free Bronze account. A financial advisor will reach out to schedule a meeting with you right away so you and your loved one can rest easier at night.