Money is one of the most difficult topics to talk about in a relationship. Money can be an emotional topic, and it's often something that many couples avoid because they're afraid of hurting their partner or being judged by them.
In this blog post, we will go over 9 communication strategies for handling money conversations in a healthy way with your partner.
Frame the Conversation in a Positive Way
The first step in having a healthy conversation is framing it from a positive perspective.
Relationships are based on love and kindness, so putting those feelings into the words that you say can help set the tone for the entire conversation.
Don’t approach money conversations when you’re angry or upset. It will create tension from the start.
Instead, take time to get yourself in a positive and loving mindset.
Consider making a list of things you’re grateful for in your financial life and in your partner.
These exercises might feel silly, but they can set you up to feel more productive.
Make a Compliment Sandwich
Broach the conversation about money with your partner by telling them what you appreciate first.
For example, instead of saying "We need to talk about our money," you could say "I'm so glad we have a healthy relationship where we are able to communicate so well. Can we schedule a time to talk about our finances?."
Another way to think about this is to make a compliment sandwich when talking about money with your partner. Begin and end each challenging statement with a positive.
For example, say “I love that we’re able to talk about money. But sometimes I worry about the credit card balance we’re carrying. You’re so good at problem-solving. What do you think would be the best way to address this?”
Prepare In Advance
Instead of jumping into the conversation and trying to figure out what you want to say, one strategy is to prepare in advance.
This will help with your anxiety levels because you'll already know exactly how you're going to start the conversation when the time comes.
The best way to do this is by writing down a list of exactly what you want to talk about and what you wish to accomplish before you start the conversation.
You might even prepare a one-minute monologue that you can read to start the conversation.
These steps are well worth the effort as they can help ensure that you're ready for any scenario and won't be completely sidelined by anxiety or fear when the time comes to have the conversation.
Be Mindful of Your Nonverbal Communication
Your nonverbal communication is extremely important in money conversations.
When you're nervous about what your partner will say, you can easily give off a deer-in-the-headlights type of vibe that makes your partner much more likely to react negatively than if you were projecting calmness and confidence.
Therefore, it's important that you're mindful of your nonverbal cues and try to keep them in mind as much as possible.
For example, slow down the pace of your speech when you speak or make sure that you're not fidgeting too much. Also, watch the tone and volume of your voice. When you speak softer and lower in pitch it can help your partner feel more relaxed.
Try to Avoid "You" Statements When Possible
Most money conversations come from a place of “you did this, you did that”.
This creates a tone of blame in the conversation from the start.
When we start conversations from a place of blame everyone becomes tense and defensive.
Instead, make statements such as “I’m feeling this when we get a large credit card statement” rather than “you spent too much on the credit card last month”.
When you make “I” statements instead of “you” statements it helps your partner understand your perspective and it stops the blame game dead in its tracks.
Begin the Conversation with a Self-Awareness Assessment
Before you have the money conversation, it can be helpful to take a moment to reflect on your own thoughts and beliefs about money and how these will impact the way you talk.
You don't want to end up projecting your feelings onto your partner. This is why it's important to recognize your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings about money beforehand.
If you need some help with this, it's a great idea to write down a few of the things that come to mind when you think about money in your relationship before starting the conversation.
Or if you’d like to dive deeper and understand more about your money beliefs, consider taking The Family Money Tree Course.
Try to Create as Safe an Environment
Many people struggle when they have money conversations because of fear and anxiety.
For most people, money conversations bring up a lot of deep emotions, beliefs, and thoughts as we discussed in the last point.
One way to counter this is to make sure that you create a safe environment in which to have the money conversation. This might mean making sure you have these conversations at the right times.
For example, if your partner had a tough day at work and comes home in a bad mood, you might not want to start a money conversation because it's likely that they won't be receptive.
It can be helpful to recognize the signs your partner may be less receptive to a money conversation.
It's okay to try again another time if it doesn't seem like the right moment.
Reassure Your Partner That You're Not Trying to Change Them
It can be difficult for people when they are told that their behavior or beliefs are wrong.
Even though you may not have negative intentions, your partner may still feel threatened by your money conversation if you come off as trying to change them.
That's why it's important that you reassure them that you're not trying to make them into something they're not. Tht you’re just trying to get on the same page and problem solve the situation together.
This can help your partner relax and think more clearly about what you’re taking about. It can also help them be more clear about the concerns that they have and help you both stay focused on creating a solution.
Create an Action Plan Together to Follow Up on Your Conversations
Once you've had your money conversation, it's time to create a plan going forward.
This will help with your accountability because you'll know exactly what needs to be done by whom.
Without a clear action plan a discussion is usually not very productive.
For example, if you’ve decided that you have a budget for your credit card spending for the month decide on the steps to take after the discussion. Perhaps one of you will go online and set an alert that will text you both when you hit a certain spending limit. Then you can plan to track if the spending limis are working month to month by having a planned discussion about it.
This way, you’ll not only know what needs to be done, but you’ll also have a built-in way to review your progress together on a regular basis.
Also, it can be helpful for your partner to have some control over the situation because this will make them feel more engaged in the process and likely more receptive to your ideas as well.
Learn more about how to have a healthy conversation about money with your aging parents in my last blog.
If you’re anticipating a challenging conversation with your partner about money, consider reading my blog on how to have tough conversations about money.
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