In any relationship, you need to be able to communicate well with the other person and you need to be able to establish trust. When it comes to a sensitive topic like money, this can be harder than it sounds. If you’re in a committed relationship with somebody, maybe you haven’t figured out yet how to talk about money. It could be a discussion that you know is looming around the corner, but it’s too stressful to think about right now.
Talking about money is an understandably difficult part of a relationship, but it doesn’t have to be a major roadblock. Out of all the ways how money can affect your relationship with a significant other, avoiding the topic altogether can have some serious negative consequences. With that in mind, here are some tips for how you can have a productive and respectful financial conversation with your partner.
Talking About Money Is a Good Thing
It’s best to have a candid and honest conversation about money before a real problem comes up. You don’t want to be excitedly packing for a vacation only to have you partner confess that they can’t come with you because the cost is too high. When you’re serious about your relationship, then you need to set aside some time to have a talk about money.
You might not be surprised to learn that couples who talk about money regularly report themselves as being twice as happy as couples who avoid the topic. Everyone’s spending habits, saving habits, income, debt levels, and financial goals are different. To reconcile the differences in financial expectations, set aside a time to have an honest conversation about your relationship’s financial past, present, and future.
Ask the Right Questions
Don’t blindside your partner by launching into a discussion about the differences in debt and how much you hope to spend on a wedding one day. Decide on a time and place to have an uninterrupted conversation about your finances. You can choose to put the phones away and maybe even split a meal while you chat.
Focus on the past, present, and future of your finances and organize your conversation around those categories. If a question feels too heavy or difficult, you can skip it and come back to it another day. Don’t make things too hard for yourselves. Here are some examples of questions you can ask:
- Did your family have a budget when you were growing up?
- How did your parents handle money and how did you feel about their habits?
- How do you make your financial decisions?
- What would make you feel happy about money?
- What are your fears about money?
- What dreams are you working towards in the next one year? Five years? Ten years?
Know What to Work Towards
When you take a teamwork approach to the future with your partner, you should have a sense of what you’re working towards in order to set realistic goals and achieve them. If you find that you have differences in lifestyle or goals, you can work on it through compromise. For instance, if one of you is more attached to buying finer, brand-name items, then decide on how and when those purchases can be made in a way that doesn’t go against your couple money goals.
Don’t keep money details to yourself or conceal things from your partner. And be considerate and understanding about the other person’s relationship to money. You might know more about personal finance or maybe you carry a significant portion of debt, with clear communication and honest feedback and encouragement, you can have healthy conversations about money and strengthen your relationship in the process.