How to Stop Fighting with Your Spouse About Money
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Nearly half (47%) of people “have different spending habits from their spouse or partner,” according to a recent SunTrust survey that came out last year. Not only that, but people are more likely to consider themselves the saver and their spouse the spender when asked. Come to think of it, I always call myself the saver in my relationship, but perhaps I’m not as innocent as I think!?
Either way, it’s safe to say, like many things in a relationship, money conversations are going to take some getting used to. It’s hard enough to learn how to share a home, decide who will do which chores and who is responsible for walking the dog or reading to the kids at night.
Money conversations add another dimension to any relationship, mostly because more likely than not, you and your spouse are going to have different money views.
If you struggle through money conversations with your spouse, here are some of my top tips for having them go smoothly.
Understand the Root of Money Habits
It took me years to understand that the core differences between my spending habits and my husband’s spending habits date all the way back to our childhoods and the way our parents handled money.
We each watched our parents handle money differently, and we each learned money lessons from them including what to do and what not to do.
We had to decide together what parts of our upbringing we wanted to keep and it’s still a tough compromise sometimes. However, when we get to a tense moment in a money conversation or my husband wants to buy something I think might be too expensive, I try to understand the root of that money decision or money desire.
It’s amazing how much of our money choices today harken back to what we had or didn’t have as a child or what we liked or didn’t like about how our parents handled money.
Find the Best Time to Talk
My husband knows not to ask me hard questions right when I wake up. He wakes up extremely early and has a lot of time to greet the day before I even begin to function.
We also know that we have to talk about hard money topics when our kids are asleep. No one can get a full sentence out when they are awake without being interrupted by, “Juice?” “Milk?” “Berries?” “Mama. Mama. Mama.” “Cheese?” Seriously, all they want is food, food and more food. So, needless to say, they have to have their little eyes closed if we are actually going to flesh out something challenging.
My advice is to plan a money date and force each other to sit down and go over a bulleted list of money topics that you have to get through. Share in the responsibility of leading the meeting, and if certain tasks have to be done, like enrolling in healthcare plans or rolling over an IRA, make sure you leave the meeting clear on who will be responsible for which task.
Forgive and Learn
I won’t say “forgive and forget” because as we all know, money fights can truly break a marriage. So, just know that when you’re dealing with hard money conversations, sometimes you will be productive and make good decisions. Other times, you’re going to fight and storm out of the room.
When you feel that things are getting tense or you’re really not seeing eye to eye on a topic, don’t force the conversation. Sometimes you both might need time to think on your own before coming to an agreement.
So, instead of forgive and forget, I say forgive and learn. Each time something goes wrong in a money conversation, try to figure out why. Were you too aggressive? Was your spouse too tired to talk? Did the suggestions come across as an attack? Could you just not find any middle ground?
All of these things are very normal when it comes to hashing out some of life’s toughest money decisions. Stick with it, and you will find that tough money conversations will eventually be a thing of the past as you learn how to work together and improve your communication when it comes to money topics.
How do you have tough money conversations with your spouse? What are some ways that you get through money fights without too much resentment or stress? What have you learned about how you and your partner approaching spending? Saving? Investing? What about your backgrounds is different? What’s the same?