No matter how your marriage started out, at some point the honeymoon is over and the two of you are dealing with the realities of the day to day. Many times that eye opener is disagreements about money.
And it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
How We Picked Up Our Money Habits
Laurie Puhn, a couples meditator, commented that having arguments about finances can be expected with married couples. The truth is most of the time, it’s not necessarily the numbers, but it’s what we bring to the marriage that cause us to bicker and nitpick.
Our previous experiences with money have a huge impact on how we view it and how we act towards it.
Maybe we picked up unproductive habits because of our role models. If money was a tense topic growing up or you’ve seen the big issues side stepped to completely avoid fights than you may feel unprepared on how to best talk about it.
Differences in culture can be another source of tension. One of you may have family who expects you to take care of them when they older while the other was raise with the idea that each generation is self-sufficient.
Don’t forget we also have unique personalities. I can tell you that some of the traits that made me fall in love with my husband can also be some of the more frustrating ones to deal with when we have a disagreement.
His thoughtful and deliberate discussions become dragging his feet with decisions. (Or at least that’s how I feel in the moment )
This isn’t about making excuses, but about understanding where your spouse is coming from. Once you both see why your partner coming from a certain perspective, it can make it easier to work with them.
How Can We Talk About Money Better?
Having differences of opinions doesn’t mean that your marriage is doomed ; how you communicate with one another can though. Misunderstandings can quickly snowball into arguments and shouting matches, depending on your personalities.
So just how you talk about money?
- Write it down. Before you two get together to talk about your finances, make some time to jot down your thoughts and feelings about it. It can serve you in two ways – help you identify your end goal and release some of your emotions.
- Choose to meet at a time and place that is relaxing for the both of you. Make the situation as comfortable as you can so they two of you are in a better mood to listen. You also might want to have a set time to start and finish so you don’t feel like this will go on forever.
- Both sides need to talk. Let each of you have some uninterrupted time to express your thoughts and feelings about the situation. While the other one is talking, make sure you’re paying attention to what they are saying. Take notes if you have to. If you’re worried one about going over the limit, set a timer.
- Find common ground. Once you both spoke about it, try to see if you can come to an agreement on something and work from there.
- Break it down. If you’re still having trouble coming up with an overall plan for your goal, see if you can back it up a bit and agree on the first step.
Building a Better Marriage with Conversations
I think one way to overcome bad communication habits is by having positive models we can build from. One of my favorite podcasts to catch is Better Conversations on Money and Marriage. You get to hear Derek and Carrie discuss their individual and joint views on budgets, staying together during their own money crisis, and becoming parents.
The latest episode of the Couple Money Podcast goes into more detail if you’re interested.
I’d love to hear from you about how both of you handle financial disagreements. What has worked for you and what hasn’t?
Photo Credit: Karsten Bitter