All kinds of communication can be a challenge. We learn to talk in our infancy and then spend the next 70, 80, 100 years of life trying to say what we mean.
One of the major factors leading to divorce is money, so it pays (pun accidental) to spend some time working on your communication skills when it comes to money.
Here are some tips to help out.
In The Beginning…
Chances are you want to spend a bit of time with this person. Say, a couple of years. Maybe longer. Maybe forever. If so, you’ll need to be able to establish some good communication around money issues from the beginning. The simplest reason is that you’ll be working towards a common future- at least for a while- and money is going to have to fund that future somehow. Explaining your goals, financial and otherwise, to your partner is an essential step.
If financial security is imperative for you, it may be disconcerting to realise your partner has no intention of ever writing a budget. Get your dreams out there from the beginning, so at least you’re both on the same page.
A lot of these tips are inspired by ABC News. One great suggestion is that arguments over money need to have ground rules, like an allowance for a cooling off period. I say the most ridiculous things, things I often don’t even believe, during an argument so don’t make decisions based on the heat of the moment. Understanding that compromise is an essential part of the whole deal is going to make your life a whole lot easier.
For instance, if you desperately want to get out of debt, that’s great. It’s not fantastic, however, if you make your partner and yourself live in misery to attain it. Compromise and achieve things slowly.
White lies are appealing. People don’t get hurt, there is less conflict (upfront conflict at least) and you can stow your guilt or anger for a while. White lies are also a disaster when, eventually, the lie comes out. It’s a good idea to have a policy of total honesty, about your aspirations and about your perception of your relationship when it comes to money. You can’t fix it if you’re not honest about it.
Write down what you think you do well as a couple and what you think could be fixed up. Don’t bring their lack of attention to the washing up or how you wish they wouldn’t call five times a day- this is about money alone. The other issues should be discussed in a different arena.
Often it ends up that one person in the couple will handle most of the day-to-day of the finances. It is crucial, therefore, that you can have regular catch-ups about your financial situation. These aren’t meant to be a once-a-week slinging match, more of a date to see where you’re at, what you can improve and where you are when it comes to your goals. This will forestall a couple of problems- both partners will have equal access to information and there’ll be less of resentment, you’ll both stay motivated as you are reminded of your goals (and you’re progress towards them) and problems are fixed early on, as opposed to letting them grow completely out of control.