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How to Talk to Your Spouse About Money Problems

Afraid to talk to your spouse about money problems? Money is a common argument amongst couples, and unfortunately, it often gets so bad that it leads to divorce. The earlier you can address financial stress in your relationship, the more likely you can resolve it. The best thing you can do for your relationship is to work together to solve your financial problems.

Premarital counseling can prevent a lot of problems. The theory is that talking about significant issues before getting married can reduce the friction caused by different beliefs and behaviors. Discussing topics like child-rearing, managing conflict, and managing money are essential before getting married. Waiting to sort out the differences after the honeymoon period can be hard.

If you've been married a while and now realize that you and your spouse don't agree on finances, it's important to get a handle on things before they affect your relationship. Money can create a great deal of strain in a relationship.

What should you do if you and your spouse don't agree on money?

Do:

  • Meet with a financial counselor or planner, depending on your financial needs
  • Create a non-hostile way to problem solve
  • Have grace for missteps along the way

Most often, couples who disagree about money are coming from childhoods, where families handled money very differently. Likewise, if the money IQ of your spouse is different than yours, he or she may need some education. The key to surviving money issues with your spouse is not actually about the money. It's is about respecting one another and being open to solving the problems.

Don't:

  • Hide purchases or debt
  • Blame or yell - especially in front of children
  • Condemn someone's style if it isn't like yours

If you are a saver and your partner is a spender, it is easy to shake a finger and "should" all over them. A spender feels a saver is too strict, and a saver feels a spender is too freewheeling. Neither is necessarily right or wrong, but the blame can cast division where unity is key. The answer to different spending habits is compromise and clear communication - not forcing someone into your way of thinking. Remember to keep the marriage front and center and the fiscal component of the marriage an aspect, not the focus. If you need neutral help, a financial planner, mediator, or counselor can help you overcome this roadblock and move on with a rock-solid marriage.

Why proactively talk to your spouse about money?

To Create a Joint Vision

You may have very different ideas about what constitutes success. However, if you never talk about money and your goals, you won’t even know if the reason you have problems with your spouse is due to considerable differences in those goals.

For example, for one of you, homeownership might be an important way that you define success. The other partner may prefer to rent, due to not wanting maintenance responsibilities or some other reason.

You won’t know if you don’t talk about it. When you find out that you have different ideas, you can try to forge a middle path that can help you both. For example, instead of buying a house, you may choose to buy a condo to cut down on some of the maintenance concerns.

Ensure You’re on the Same Page

If you want to make sure you’re both on the same page about a goal, talking about it can only help. Even if you don’t want the same things, understanding why it matters to your partner can help to make it something you are concerned with, too.

Pursue Shared Goals in Life

Shared life goals are an important part of marriage. Saving for the future so that you can travel, or check things off your bucket list is a wonderful way to plan your finances. It gives you both something to work for and plan for in the future.

Meet Individual Life Goals

Even though you put your incomes together, you each likely have your own individual goals in life. For example, maybe one of you wants to go to graduate school or start their own business. Discussing this through finances is an excellent way to ensure that all your goals can be met together.

Avoid Problems

If you never talk about money, 20 years can go by without either of you paying attention. You may wind up with no savings and no future. This is not a good thing. While you can ensure that you save enough with a plan, going about things without a plan is only asking for problems.

Ensure Your Financial Future

Nothing is going to happen without you and your spouse doing something actively to put money in savings, in investments, and keeping your debt low. If you are both on the same page, and discuss and make plans together, it’s more likely to happen the way you envision it.

Talking about money doesn’t have to be hard. Money is only one part of your life together, but it’s what is going to help you meet your goals and live a happy life. Talking about it and setting yourself up for success will remove the stress that doesn’t even need to exist, and ensure your future is bright.

You and your spouse may not agree on money, but you can find common ground. Learning to communicate and solve problems together is the key. Finding solutions for talking about money also improves communication about other aspects of life and marriage. This makes everything a win-win!

If you need more ideas on how to talk to your spouse about money, check out some of the free printable worksheets in our resource library that can guide the conversation. Also, join us for a discussion in the Moms Managing Money Facebook Group.

Other posts from our series on facing financial fears:

3 Tips to Overcoming Money Fears

Afraid Money is Destroying Your Friendship? Here are 10 Do's & Don'ts

Fear of Going Back to Work

Facing Your Fear: How to Ask for a Raise When You're Underpaid

Face Your Fear: How to Start a Blog and Make Money

Don't Let Your Fear of Starting a Business Stop You

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