Are you fighting with your spouse over money? If so, you could be doing more damage than you realize. Believe it or not, money is the number one cause of arguments between married couples, and a major reason for divorce (see this study). But it doesn’t have to be. Let’s talk about resolving money problems with your spouse…
Sharing finances with your spouse can be tricky, especially if you have different spending and saving habits. Often times feelings of pride or self-righteousness can slip into the picture, but the reasons for that aren’t necessarily to do with money. In today’s world, money symbolizes many things, including love, power, control and freedom. When spouses argue about money, they end up saying a lot more than they may have intended to.
It’s important to take money arguments head-on, which means that when you disagree with your spouse about money, you shouldn’t allow your negative feelings to fester. If you do, they’ll likely result in a future blowout. Instead, try these tips to avoid bickering and get on the same team when it comes to your finances.
Being open and honest about your finances is the basis of good communication. If you’re not, it can create bigger problems in your marriage.
Sit down with your spouse and talk about your debt and credit issues, spending habits and expenses. Having all your cards on the table will prevent you keeping secrets from your spouse, something that’s never a good idea when it comes to finances. Instead of fuelling future arguments, practice a t’ell all’ policy when it comes to the dollars and cents.
If your financial discussions usually end up in a shouting match, you’re doing something wrong. Unfortunately, it’s hard to control your feelings in the heat of the battle.
The first step you should take is to agree to not fight about money. Instead, come to the conversation calm, cool and collected. If you feel yourself getting fired up about something your spouse has done or said, then take a time-out and blow off your steam before discussing the issue.
Getting into a money discussion when you’re already heated will only make things worse. Take turns speaking to discuss your issues, avoid interrupting, and keep calm.
(Need more help avoiding fights with your spouse? This YouTube video has some great actionable ideas for avoiding heated conflict.)
Use “I” Statements
When tackling controversial issues such as money, your spouse’s defenses automatically go up. It gets even worse when you start playing the blame game. Using “you” statements such as, “You never pay bills on time!” or “You spend too much money!” makes your spouse feel attacked, and rightly so. Meanwhile, it’s your way of validating negative feelings by blaming your spouse.
To avoid this type of attack mode replace “you” with “I” statements to take responsibility for your emotions. For instance, “I get frustrated when the bills aren’t paid on time. Can I help you out with that?” or “I’d like to look at our spendings so we can see where our money is going.” Taking the blame off of your partner and rephrasing your words so that no one is at fault is a great way to deal with these type of situations. Your spouse will be more more inclined to discussing the problems if you even the playing field and don’t point fingers.
When couples are blinded by their own views on spending and saving, it makes it hard for them to see or understand their partner’s perspective. Most times it’s these personal outlooks that lead to money arguments in the first place.
Since we’re always thinking our own way of looking at money is the best, it creates a tug-and-pull inside the relationship. Instead of sticking to your guns, take to be empathic and look at the situation from your spouse’s point of view. You never know, what they’re saying may actually work.
When one spouse is a saver and the other’s a spender then it’s important to agree on a budget together. To do this, look closely as your costs and incomes, and agree on a magic number that you both feel is fair. If you make more money than your spouse, perhaps you get extra spending money or contribute more to bills.
However you decide on it, agree that if either of you wants to go over the limit, it has to first be discussed and cleared by the other spouse. For instance, you could set a spending limit of $100. If the total of your shopping trip is going to cost more than the set amount, then make a call to clear it first. It shows that you’re considerate of your spouse’s wishes and conscious of your budget.
Jump In Together
If only one spouse is familiar with the bank accounts then issues are sure to arise. Instead of putting just one of you in charge of paying bills and balancing accounts, do it together.
When both you and your spouse are both informed about your finances, it’s be easier to see eye-to-eye. Since you’ll both know what to expect in the coming months, you can discuss what you’ll need to spend and where you’ll need to save. You can talk about upcoming large purchases or pencil in family vacations. Seeing the numbers first hand will keep both of you in the loop and stop debates in their tracks.
That said, even the world’s most perfect couple is going to argue about money from time to time, and resolving money problems with your spouse isn’t easy… but as long as you are fair and work toward a compromised solution, these clashes will become calm, constructive conversations.