Pause for a moment to reflect on those in your life, both past and present; Can you think of any relationship more nuanced in complexity than that of your marriage? Probably not. Your union is the joining of two unique individuals with two distinct pasts, intending to construct a functioning and flourishing life together. Creating the environment that nourishes and promotes the balance needed in a successful marriage requires proper placement and handling of many different parts and pieces; handling finances in a marriage properly is one of these essential components.
At this point in this writing, you’re probably thinking, “Dawn, I’m aware that intimacy is important to my marriage, but what do my finances have to do with it?” A valid question, my friend; and if you were to Google it, you’re not going to come up with a clear answer. In essence, financial intimacy is the intertwining of the fiscal portion of your life with that of your spouse, intending to promote a healthy environment in which your marriage can grow.
Handling Finances in Your Marriage: 6 Steps to Get on the Same Financial Page
Regular and honest communication is one of the most essential components of any healthy marriage; unfortunately, when finances are the topic of discussion between partners, this is where you can start to see some breakdown. Because money health, in reality, is an integral building block of a marriage, it’s essential that you’re able to communicate effectively with your spouse; sometimes, doing this is easier said than done, but not impossible. Together, let’s explore 6 steps to better communication with your spouse on finances.
Step #1: Vulnerability is a Good Thing
To be vulnerable with your spouse is to call off the guard and let them inside; financial vulnerability is not excluded.
There can be a tendency to act defensively when it comes to discussions about money. This defensive attitude derives from a feeling of personal failure or guilt with money mistakes you’ve possibly made, but keep in mind that no one is perfect with how they handle finances. The next time you’re uncomfortable or feeling negative while in a discussion about finances with your spouse, dismiss your defensiveness and drop your guard; allowing yourself to have an open and honest conversation about a problem or something that needs improvement in your marriage will go a long way towards real resolution and bring you closer to your partner.
Step #2: Don’t Be Judgemental
Realistically, one of you is probably better with spending or saving than the other; that being said, when you’re scrutinizing over your bank statements or discussing a financial problem, reserve any judgment you want to dish out. When you have a critical attitude towards your partner, they may shut down or react defensively, which can lead to an argument or hurt feelings. The next time you encounter a money problem and discuss finances in your marriage, seek an objective outlook on how the issue can be resolved instead of playing the blame game. Remember, you and your spouse are a team.
Step #3: Create Goals Together
One thing I’ve found is that couples will identify varying financial priorities; while this is normal, it can become a problem if goals conflict with each other. Choose to discuss, define, and develop your goals together so you can both be on the same page and celebrate your moments of financial success. Accomplishing milestones together as a couple is truly an amazing opportunity for bonding and growth in your marriage.
Step #4: Lighten the Mood
Money is just one of those things in life that tends to elicit a more serious tone, sometimes complemented by tense undertones. If you sense the conversation taking a sober turn try playing some tunes softly in the background, crack a joke, or perhaps take a break for a quick shoulder rub and a sip of wine. Financial chats in your marriage don’t need to be all work and no play.
Step #5: Get to Know their Financial Background
Remember how I mentioned, way back at the beginning of this writing, that you are two unique individuals with two distinct pasts? Keeping family backgrounds in mind and recognizing differences in how you both were raised is a critical element of understanding how your partner views money and prioritizes financial goals. Ask questions about what your partner’s experience with family finances was like growing up; you’re sure to gain some valuable insight into their approach. A dose of empathy can go a long way towards healthy communication with your loved one.
Step #6: Seek Therapy
There are times when all attempts at bettering financial communication in your marriage may fail, but that doesn’t mean you or your spouse are failures. At this point, bringing in an outside perspective can be helpful. Couples therapy with an experienced professional like myself is an invaluable tool that can help strengthen and expand your communication within your marriage, setting you up to have productive and meaningful conversations about money in the future.
Remember, asking for help when you and your spouse can’t figure out your financial problems in your marriage is a strength, not a weakness.