Money, often seen as a mere transactional tool, can be the golden thread that weaves couples closer together. Financial discussions can become opportunities to dream bigger, plan better, and grow stronger as a unit when approached with understanding and positivity.
With the right mindset and tools, like those offered by Joyful Couple, navigating the financial waters of a relationship can be a delightful voyage of discovery, alignment, and shared aspirations. Let's embark on this journey, turning money talks from daunting to empowering.
The "Why" Behind Money Talks: More Than Just Dollars and Cents
Money is more than just numbers; it's a tapestry of our upbringing, values, and dreams. Every individual brings their unique financial story into a relationship, influenced by their past experiences and future aspirations.
Dr. Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist, emphasises that our beliefs about money, often formed in childhood, can influence our adult financial behaviours.(1). Recognizing this can set the foundation for understanding and empathy during money-related conversations.
When in a Relationship, Should You Talk About Finances?
While discussing your credit score on the first date might be a buzzkill, it's essential to get candid about finances as the relationship progresses. Suze Orman, a personal finance guru, suggests that couples should have a money talk as soon as they see a future together.(2).
Whether planning a vacation, moving in together, or discussing marriage, understanding each other's financial health and habits can prevent future misunderstandings and set the stage for shared financial goals.
Starting the Conversation Right
Diving into money discussions can often feel like stepping into unknown territory. However, the right approach can transform these conversations from potential minefields into bridges of understanding. Instead of viewing it as a confrontational topic, see it as an opportunity to align your visions and dreams.
Begin by setting a positive tone. Choose a comfortable setting, perhaps over a quiet dinner or during a relaxed evening at home. Ensure you are in the right frame of mind, free from distractions or stressors.
When broaching the subject, use open-ended questions that encourage reflection and sharing. Asking, "How do you envision our financial future?" or "What are your financial priorities?" provides clarity and shows that you value your partner's perspective. Such questions can lead to discussions about individual and shared goals, from buying a home to planning vacations or even early retirement.
How Do You Talk About Money Without Fighting?
Money discussions can be emotionally charged but don't have to lead to arguments. The key is to approach them with an open heart and mind. Instead of pointing fingers, focus on finding common ground.
Using phrases like "I feel" instead of "You always" can make a difference. A relationship expert, Dr. John Gottman, suggests understanding your partner's feelings about money can prevent conflicts and foster mutual respect.(3).
What if You're the One Struggling? Owning Your Financial Story
Navigating financial turbulence is a part of life's journey. Whether it's unexpected expenses, debts, or past financial decisions that didn't pan out as hoped, many of us have been there. In a relationship, these challenges aren't just personal; they become a shared concern.
The first step towards addressing any financial hiccup is acknowledgement. Owning your financial story means accepting where you are, understanding how you got there, and being open with your partner. It's not about casting blame on circumstances or past choices but about taking responsibility and seeking a way forward.
Being transparent might seem daunting. After all, money matters are deeply personal, often intertwined with our sense of self-worth and independence. However, in a relationship, this transparency becomes the cornerstone of trust. By opening up about your financial struggles, you're not just sharing a problem but inviting your partner into a space of collaboration and mutual support.
Tools to Help: Making Money Talks Fun and Productive
Yes, you read that right – money talks can be fun! With tools like Joyful Couple's "Life Conversations" game, couples can delve deeper into various themes, including values, complicated situations, and money.
This collection of questions is designed to foster a better understanding of each other, addressing the core issues that often go unspoken in relationships and do it in a playful yet meaningful way. And it has a separate section of questions solely focusing on financial matters.
It's about fostering understanding and collaboration while having a good time. Financial educator Robert Kiyosaki often emphasises the importance of financial education, and tools like these can make the learning process enjoyable.
The Art of Listening: It's Not Just About Talking
In financial discussions, listening is just as crucial as speaking. It's about understanding your partner's financial dreams, fears, and priorities. You can find shared goals and work towards them by actively listening. As Stephen R. Covey, the author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," famously said, "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply."4
Financial Goals and Dreams in Relationship
Setting shared financial goals can be exciting. Whether buying a dream home, traveling the world, or planning retirement, these shared objectives can bring you closer. It's about building a future together, one financial brick at a time. Financial planner Carl Richards emphasises the importance of aligning financial planning with life goals, ensuring that money is a tool to achieve your shared dreams.5
The Importance of Regular Check-ins
Financial situations can change. Regular check-ins ensure you're both on the same page, whether it's a promotion, an unexpected expense, or a change in financial goals. Think of it as a financial date night—a time to connect, discuss, and dream together. Regular financial check-ins can prevent small issues from becoming big problems.
Navigating money talks in relationships can be a journey of understanding, trust, and shared dreams. With open communication, mutual respect, and a dash of fun (thanks to tools like those from Joyful Couple), couples can turn financial discussions into opportunities for growth and connection. As we journey through the complexities of love and money, remember that with the right tools and mindset, every challenge can be an opportunity for growth.
1. Bradley Klontz, Journal of Financial Therapy, Money Beliefs and Financial Behaviors: Development of the Klontz Money Script Inventory, https://newprairiepress.org/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=jft
2. Christy Bieber, Here's How Suze Orman Suggests Couples Should Handle Their Finances, https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/personal-finance/articles/heres-how-suze-orman-suggests-couples-should-handle-their-finances/
3. The Gottman Institute https://www.gottman.com/
5. Carl Richards, The Behavior Gap