Whether you’re a brand new couple or you’ve been in the game for a while, the money talk might seem foreign. Just like we’ve been conditioned to find money conversations uncomfortable, they’re also wildly important. It’s astounding how long couples manage to go without addressing their finances, but no matter where you are in your journey, it’s never too late to get that conversation started.
Addressing money with your partner is an ongoing process. You don’t have one “money conversation” and call it quits. Your finances need to be nourished and attended to just like your emotional health or your sex life.
If you’re afraid to approach the subject, it’s important to remember that everyone has finances. Money is a part of living, and the sooner you clear the air, the more satisfied and secure you’ll both feel.
Know What You Want
Think about what parts of your financial health are most important to you. While some people are more focused on income, others are more concerned about spending habits. Are you curious about their credit score? What about their rent history?
Having a direction for your conversation is key to feeling satisfied with your discussions. Remember that it’s essential to approach these subjects with care and respect.
Offer Your Own Truth
One of the best ways to open up a dialogue is to offer your own information first. If you want your partner to share their salary, start by sharing yours. If you’re curious about their student debt situation, lay your numbers on the table. This conversation can cultivate an environment of safety and respect for your partner while still encouraging them to be open and honest.
Don’t Tell Lies
If you’ve got a few financial blemishes, it’s best to be honest from the jump. Lying, deception and keeping secrets have no place in a healthy relationship, even when it comes to finances. Especially if you’re making financial commitments together, it’s important to be honest so that your partner has a clear picture of the situation they’re entering.
It can be difficult to be honest about financial struggles, but when you and your partner tackle them together it can feel better on everyone’s end, and perhaps offer positive solutions you weren’t expecting.
Take Baby Steps
Starting small is often the name of the game. If talking facts and figures is too much too quickly, it’s a good idea to talk more about philosophy to start. Who is more of a saver, and who is more of a spender? How were you raised differently when it comes to money? These ideas might soften the conversation and gear you both up for more serious figures down the road.
Bring in an Expert
Studying up on personal finance and learning together is a useful tool in growing your financial lives while you start the conversation. Showing them an article or video you’re interested in can get the ball rolling on the money talk, and can even show you what they think about certain financial subjects with a sense of neutrality. You’re both listening to the expert doing the talking, which creates a middle ground.
Set Goals Together
Money talk doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Setting a financial goal together can give you something to look forward to and bring you closer. Do you want to move in together, or get a larger space? Maybe you’ve been itching to go on vacation?
Bringing in fun aspects of money talk can liven up the conversation and remind you that responsibility can lead to great things. This talk can also signal what their hopes and dreams are, so you can learn if you’re compatible on that level.
Can’t Buy Love
One of the most important parts of the money conversation is remaining insightful about the motivations, frustrations and expectations of each partner in the relationship. If you’re experiencing money problems or disconnects, it’s worth it to ask yourselves what emotions are being brought up and what issues you think might be solved by “fixing” the financial piece of your relationship.
Couples fight about money a lot, often causing large rifts or even divorces. However, money fights can often mask underlying issues. While finances might be the problem at hand, something else could be the root cause, or it could be a part of a larger picture. Even just staying mindful can help prevent the use of money conflict as a band-aid for deeper things.
Relationship finances can be a tough conversation to start, but once you get the ball rolling, it gets easier with time. The more you practice, the better you’ll move through your finances together.