Money…always a sensitive topic and always difficult to approach, whether you’re asking your boss for a raise, negotiating a deal, splitting the bill…
What’s interesting though, is that even in your closest relationship (the one with your partner or spouse), money issues make for an uncomfortable discussion.
But these conversations about money are not only inevitable in a relationship, but are really important to have. Couples who are married or live together need to be upfront about their financial goals, expectations and should work out how they are going to manage their finances (setting a budget, deciding who pays for what, etc). Doing this from the outset is key to minimizing conflict over money issues at a later stage. Nothing kills romance more than arguments over a credit card bill or a telephone account.
However, as most of us don’t anticipate that something like money would get in the way of our ‘happily ever after’ , here are some tips on how to talk to your man whenever money-issues arise:
- Wait for the right moment – when he’s watching the football or has just come home from a stressful day at work is definitely not the time to approach this. How about making him his favorite dinner or letting him relax before raising the topic.
- Be prepared – if there’s a specific area that’s concerning you, come prepared so that you can show him what you’re referring to e.g. the high credit-card bill; a statement from a bad investment…
- Don’t accuse – no two people are the same, and this extends to financial values. Perhaps you are a conservative spender, but your partner likes to spend more freely…He is coming from a different place than you are on this issue, so accusations and finger-pointing will simply push him away and put him in defensive-mode. Try explaining the issue from your point of view in a non-accusatory way and offer a solution to the issue e.g. he is passionate about cars and owns an expensive car which is putting financial strain on you as a couple. Explain to him the daily stress that this places on you, and suggest that perhaps he needs to downgrade to a slightly less expensive model, or else perhaps he has a plan to earn supplementary income to support this lifestyle.
- Don’t be defensive – do you have a financial ‘oops’ that you’d like to share with your guy? Whether you’ve recently checked your bank statement and have noticed that you’ve been overspending on your budget or have been on a wild spending spree and are now concerned about the consequences (it happens to the best of us J ), own up to it, take responsibility and look for a solution!
- Remember: You’re in this together – whether your money issue is a mild hiccup or has long-term consequences, remember that you are in this together and need to support each other through a tough financial time. If any issues arise, discussing the problem/concern as equals and looking for a real solution is the best way to deal with it.
Rachel Moheban (LCSW) currently has a private practice in New York City and specializes in individual and couples therapy, and is the founder of The Relationship Suite
. She has her Masters Degree in Social Work from New York University and was trained at the Ackerman Institute for the Family and at the Training Institute for Mental Health in marital and group counseling.
In addition to regular therapeutic practices, Moheban believes that couples benefit even more from using a variety of resources including the effective combination of psycho-education, relationship coaching and counseling, pro-active skills and adaptable techniques. These approaches combined are able to create the success formula needed to make fast and immediate changes in relationships.