It’s mid-January of the New Year already! I know many people set New Year’s resolutions and hopefully, they are still going strong. I am wondering, did anyone make “talking to my partner about money” one of your resolutions?
We often make resolutions related to money such as:
💵 Having “x” amount in savings by the end of the year.
💵 Going on that dream vacation.
💵 Paying off debt.
💵 Spending less.
💵 Having a monthly budget.
💵 Buying a house.
If you are in a love relationship, whether it is as spouses, unmarried partners, or a couple who is newly dating, money is affecting your relationship- that is a fact. To say that money does not affect your love relationship, no matter how independent you are, is to be in denial.
The thing is, money can stir up all kinds of emotions, thoughts, and actions, and not all of them are pleasant. So, how do we talk about money with our partners in a wholehearted way that benefits both individuals and the relationship? We have to communicate effectively, respectfully, openly, compassionately, and be active listeners.
Make It a Win/Win
This is not meant to be a win/lose venture. If done with awareness, compassion, and love these money conversations can be a strong win/win for your relationship. As Thich Nhat Hanh wrote so brilliantly in his book, Peace Is Every Step: “Darling, do I understand you enough? Or am I making you suffer?” These words, communicated with real openness, can touch your partner deeply.
We can take the concept of what Thich Nhat Hanh wrote and apply it to our conversations about money with our partners. In the end, every person wants to be truly seen. If we are being honest with ourselves, we all want that- to be seen and to also not cause suffering.
So, using anger, resentment, loud voices, or shaming while having money conversations with your partner does not work. Remember, we are in a love relationship, not a battle. The awareness that our behaviors and actions might be causing suffering to our partner can be a big “aha moment.”
Too often the thought process goes, when my partner does this, my partner is making me suffer, but often we are not willing to turn the mirror on ourselves. So, I would like to share some of my MoneyMaestra Rules of Engagement for having these important wholehearted money conversations.
MoneyMaestra’s Rules of Engagement
- Have the conversation in a neutral, private place (not a restaurant, not at one person’s office, and not in the car while driving). Being outside in nature is a good choice or somewhere else that you both feel comfortable and not emotionally charged.
- Take turns speaking. While one person is speaking, the other is actively listening- not interrupting and/or making faces and gestures.
- When it is your turn to speak, repeat back what you heard so that both you and your partner are clear you heard the message as it was said and meant. It is now your partner’s turn to actively listen. Continue exchanging your words in this manner throughout the conversation.
- No blaming, no shaming, no bullying. You can express how you feel but in a calm, respectful, solution-oriented way. If emotions come, which they may, it’s okay but this does not mean going to anger, raised voices, or the silent treatment.
- Be open, authentic, and transparent in your communication. There is no trying to trick or “one up” your partner.
- Start talking about solutions and ways to potentially look at money in a new way, a new light, so it is a win/win for both people. The goal is the betterment of the relationship, not for one person to “win.”
Start where you are now with money conversations and know that it will be an ongoing process. It will get easier and more comfortable. Don’t neglect having these money conversations. I guarantee your relationship is affected by money whether you talk about it or not, so why not put your relationship in the driver’s seat instead of letting money run the show.
If you want some assistance in your marriage or relationship dynamics, I would like to introduce Andrea Dindinger, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I love her straightforward communication style and sense of humor…and these are critical in her work as a Couples Therapist. She puts out a bimonthly newsletter called The Love Connection, full of actionable tips and no-fluff advice to boost your communication and connection with your partner. I highly recommend signing up here.
Susan Howell, The MoneyMaestra