You may have found this blog post because it has finally happened to you in your marriage—you and your spouse are in conflict over money; or stated another way, you are in conflict over the ways in which you try to manage your finances together. Don't panic, since this is merely an opportunity to grow together. So, sit back, take a deep cleansing breath, and let us help.

FIRST, COUPLES DON"T ACTUALLY FIGHT ABOUT DOLLARS

When a husband and wife are in conflict over money, it's not about the dollars, per se, it's about the feelings surrounding the dollars and the stress that's involved in managing finances. Therefore, forget about trying to figure out which one of you is right and which one is wrong since that is missing the point. You are two different people who were raised with different ideas about money. Let's take a quick look at how easily that happens. Did your parents save for vacations, a house, or regularly buy updated cars? If so, this has some impact on what you value, and therefore, on the ways in which you prefer to spend money as well as how to DON'T want to spend money. Were your parents frugal, great savers or poor savers, or were they often trying to get by month to month? If so, this will have a great influence over how you view finances today, both what is IMPORTANT to you as well as what is not.

To begin talking about finances as a couple, start from a calm place (if either of you are worked up, this won't go well) and try to understand each other's views on money and where those views are rooted. DO NOT use this as an opportunity to steamroll your spouse and get them to agree with you since that would be a mistake. Simply try to understand what is important to your spouse, as well as what isn't important, and why. Be curious and ask questions. You may even find it helpful to make a list for each of you of the things that are important and the things that are not.

FINANCIAL STRUGGLES ARE ROOTED IN COMMUNICATION STRUGGLES

One of the reasons we all struggle in marriage with financial conversations is that we let our emotions get the best of us, and whenever one or both of you is worked up (or escalated), your communication will suffer as a result. Therefore, whatever you already know about healthy communication, put that into practice when talking about finances too. Here is a great list to get you started:

  • Be quick to listen, and slow to speak. 
  • Work to understand each other, not to be in complete agreement. 
  • Use I/me statements to explain how you feel, not you/your statements that tend to make your spouse defensive. 
  • If things get a bit escalated, take a break and come back to it later (don't avoid hard conversations). 
  • Affirm each other using language like, "that makes sense to me now," or "thanks for taking the time to explain that to me," or even, "I never realized that's what you went through as a kid." Affirming language does not mean your are agreeing to everything your spouse says and, therefore, they are winning the argument. This could not be further from the truth! Affirming your spouse means that you care enough to slow down, listen to their valuable point of view (whether you agree or not), and use that as a bridge that says, "I understand you better than I did before."

STRESS WILL ALWAYS IMPEDE HEALTHY COMMUNICATION

Stress will exacerbate everything. That is true when it comes to the symptoms you feel in your body (like a headache, body tightness, nausea, etc.), and that is true when it comes to poor communication. Stress will make everything worse!

Therefore, become an expert at recognizing stress both in yourself and in your spouse. When you recognize stress in yourself, you will know that you are not in a good place to communicate well and make progress with financial matters. When you can recognize stress in your spouse, then you will know that this is NOT the best time to try to force a conversation through financial challenges. Instead, remember that good timing will always promote good conversations. Let your spouse know that you would like to talk through some money matters at some point, and ask them for a good time to do so. Timing is important.

"Good timing will always promote good conversations." ~Brad Miller

COMPROMISE: THE GREAT EQUALIZER IN MARRIAGE

You may have heard the phrase, "It's my way or the highway." A good translation of this is, "If you don't agree with me, get out of here!" This is the opposite of compromise and this kind of thinking will always create tension, conflict, and resentment between a husband and a wife.

 If you want to have a happy, healthy marriage, learn to compromise regularly and well. The same is true when it comes to finances, compromise regularly and well. You and your souse will tend to spend differently on food, cars, washing of cars, furniture, clothes, shoes, pets, entertainment, your home, investments, healthcare, and more. This means you will feel your differences on nearly everything. Learning to compromise well will serve you well!

IN SUMMARY

Financial differences are much less about dollars and cents, and much more about communication and good sense. Learn to listen well, communicate well, and recognize stress well and your financial conversation will go surprisingly WELL!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

1. Have you struggled to see eye to eye over finances in the past? What parts of this can you take ownership over?

2. Make a list of your favorite communication tools. What would it look like to use those tools the next time you talk about finances together?

3. If you have very strong opinions about money and where to spend it, do you know where that originates from?

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By Brad & Tami Miller. Contact us at brad@TandemMarriage.com. Copyright © 2024

Link to: https://tandemmarriage.com/post/money