5 Open-Ended Questions to Foster Financial Intimacy

Aug 18, 2022
Many couples are reluctant to talk about their finances even after marriage. Still, financial intimacy has many benefits in the long run if you can foster it no matter where you are on your relationship journey.

 

So let’s take another step toward getting financially naked with your partner.

 

Financial Transparency Questions

How much of your finances do you share with your partner? 

Do you know how much debt they have? 

How much money do they make?

Do you share how much money you make?

Do you share how much debt you have?

What is your combined net worth?  

 

Many couples I work with are stuck making statements, demands, and requests to resolve their money differences. More often than not, this gets experienced like a parent telling a child what to do. Experience tells me healthy adults do not take this well.  

 

Shifting to open-ended questions is one of the best ways to change the conversation toward financial intimacy and a conversation between two adults.

 

Engaging open-ended questions requires our increasing capacity to ask questions compassionately. What this looks like, sounds and feels like may be unfamiliar to you if you have not first experienced it yourself.

 

I recognize that many people have watched their parents, family members, and even themselves ask money-related questions from a place of contempt, resentment, anger, jealousy, shame, and mistrust. Learning to ask questions from a place of compassionate non-judgment is a worthy journey but one that will take time. 

 

If you are not there yet, then let this be an opportunity to get curious about what needs to change to get to the point of being able to ask these questions from a place of compassion. 

 

Start with the five questions below and ask them of yourself first. Then reflect and see if you can ask these questions of your partner without risking relational hurt to you or your partner. If you feel like you can ask these questions from a place of compassion, please move forward and see what you discover.

1) What do you like most about our money conversations?

Identifying what works gives you a foundation to work from on any challenging topics. An effective way to open a discussion on a difficult topic is to ask your partner, what do you like most about our money conversations?  This way, you build on a foundation of things that work instead of starting from scratch. 

 

2) What would make it easier for you to talk about money with me?

This question demonstrates vulnerability and receptivity personal and relational growth. It gives your partner the space to provide feedback about what would make it easier for them to share with you. 

I hear two common responses to this type of question: please stop talking over me or wait until I am done talking. 

3) What do you want me to know that I haven’t asked you about before?

This question opens you to new questions you haven’t thought to ask yet. This question is intended to open you up to blind spots in your understanding of your partner. Being open to asking this type of question will help you better understand what is important to your partner. Remember that curiosity is an essential element of mental health. Let’s say good by to the phrase curiosity killed the cat and say curiosity brought life to the cat. 

 

4) What would it be like if you could change one thing about how we handle money?

There are a lot of components to financial intimacy: open communication and vulnerability, a shared vision for financial health and wealth, and a sense of shared responsibility. Many couples recognize that focusing on one change at a time can reduce overwhelm and bring clarity. 

 

This might mean talking through something new, like how you budget or how much debt you have, or simply sharing an exciting financial milestone or achievement.

 

 A couple I worked with, the wife, bought a new luxury vehicle that felt like a significant marker of success for her and them. The husband, who agreed to the purchase, could not celebrate with her. 

 

We worked on what it would be like to celebrate financial accomplishments as a couple together. That is a change in progress for them. 

 

The essential part is that it feels manageable for both of you – but taking action will help foster positive momentum towards long-term financial goals together.

 

5) How have your childhood experiences with money shaped your financial expectations?

We all have a long and personal relationship with money. Making the connections between what we have experienced as a child and what we are doing now as an adult with money is a critical ongoing step in fostering financial intimacy. 

 

If your partner reacts strongly or shuts down to this question, do not push harder; just move on for now. But this is also a clue that there is emotional and relationship pain that needs to be addressed in time. Working through these challenges is where financial therapy or The Couples Guide to Financial Intimacy can be a big help. 

Open-Ended Questions Foster A LifeTime of Financial Intimacy

What has it been like going through these questions for you? 

 

What did you discover about yourself? 

 

What did you discover about your partner? 

 

An important part of financial intimacy means being in open communication about personal finances. Learning to master the skill of open-ended questions will foster financial intimacy in your relationship life. In the world of therapy, the act of asking open-ended questions is known as a deepening activity. 

 

Open-ended questions can also be used in your relationship with family and friends to better understand each other, rather than arguing over who spends too much or not enough.  Most financial conflicts come out of places of misunderstanding that, when worked through, actually leave people realizing they are more alike than they are different. 

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