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How to Talk to Your Spouse About Money (Without Fighting)

Behavioral Finance Personal Finances

Talking about money has long been considered a taboo for a number of reasons in our society. Not only is it deeply personal, it can also be a highly contentious topic. But a marriage is both a financial & emotional partnership which means uncomfortable conversations about money are going to happen every now and again. Luckily, there are a few techniques you can use to potentially make those conversations run smoother. Consider the following tips if you're nervous about speaking with your spouse about your family's financial health. 

Timing Is Everything 

Schedule a time in advance to discuss finances with your spouse rather than just springing it on him or her whenever you're ready. Approaching your spouse when you're angry is not likely to help either of you. Wait to discuss finances with your spouse when you're calm enough to have a real conversation. When you have a handle on your emotions, you'll find it is easier to talk about any mistakes either of you may have made. It also presents the opportunity to come clean about how you could have responded differently to the situation, or to take responsibility for any mistakes you may have made. For example, if your spouse made big purchase without talking with you about it first, you may want to talk about how you could have paid more attention and been more involved in the process. When you sit down with your spouse, consider your body language too. Nice gestures like holding their hand can help reinforce the idea that the conversation is not an attack on them. 

Stay Honest 

Honesty is going to play a big role in whether or not you can get to the heart of the problem. Try mindfully laying out the facts and mapping out clear goals about what you want out of the conversation before it even gets started. If you feel really ambitious, create an objective around fixing any financial problems you might be facing. This can provide a jumping off point if you aren't sure where to get started. Once the conversation has covered the basics of the issues, asking direct questions may create a more productive discussion about what went wrong and why. If you do take this approach though, be ready to hear answers you may not like. If your spouse is willing to admit that padding your emergency fund is just not as important to them as remodeling the kitchen, you have two options. You can look at it as a sign of failure on the part of your spouse, or you can see it as a breakthrough moment that gives you more insight into the problem. Choosing the latter approach is much more productive. 

Increase Your Involvement 

Marriage is two people helping each other through the good and bad times alike, so it may be time to be more mindful of your spouse's life. By talking about the subject matter more regularly, you and your spouse both have the opportunity to become more comfortable discussing your finances. The collaboration can make it easier to stay on track when it comes to mapping out your shared goals. While there may be setbacks, it's important that you both commit to start altering your behavior in the long-term. For even better odds that you'll stick to the plan, consider adding in a few rewards after each milestone is hit. Ideally, these will be rewards that both of you can participate in, such as a night out together.

Before deciding on any strategy for talking to your spouse about money, remember that every marriage is different. Feel free to alter these tips to make them work for your relationship and particular situation. It is possible to talk to your spouse without fighting, but it takes some effort on each person's part. Above all, remember that the love you feel for your spouse is more important than a few financial mistakes. 

If you & your spouse are navigating your family's financial situation together, having an independent third party can help. Schedule a call if you'd like to talk about it together.