Financial challenges continue to plague relationships. It always ends up in the top two or three reasons why couples fight. What's more, the contention is not always about the money, but instead, a couple's inability to have a healthy conversation about it. Why is this so difficult, and how can we improve in this area?
1. We must avoid touting ourselves or acting like the money expert, even if we really are one. There is nothing gained from proclaiming our financial wizardry when talking to our significant other about money. It can come across as condescending and our significant other can feel as though they are being talked down to or being marginalized. If they are in this state of mind, they would likely rather declare bankruptcy than make you right.
Have you ever had someone try and help you, and yet they made you feel inferior in the process? Yep, avoid this at all costs. It's not about what you know; it's about two people (hint: you and your partner) sharing helpful thoughts. Steer the conversation around how the discussions, and more specifically the info/advice/tips you want to share, are all about the goals and dreams you two have discussed.
2. Have facts trump innuendos and make them about "we," not "you" or "I." Remember, you're having this conversation because something has gone wrong, or you're moving in the wrong direction, financially. Money is a matter of dollars and "sense," so go into the discussion with a full understanding of what got you there. But, the "what" is different than the "who."
Regardless of who is to blame, you are a duo and your words must back that up. People will feel bad enough about making bad decisions or not understanding money, so don't worsen the situation. If you do, the spotlight is redirected from a solutions-oriented approach to a shame-and-blame one. That is most certainly a road to nowhere. Where do you want to go?
3. Have a solution, but seek their input! Don't dare try and talk about money concerns without having a potential way forward. Notice I said "potential"? Remember, you're not the money expert, even if you are. Bring potential solvency into the discussion, but share it as a potential solution, and then seek their input. Remember that you are a duo and a strong duo makes joint decisions.
4. Don't live in the past, even if you are still boiling about it or past decisions are still haunting your present. You're a problem-solver, right? You're a strong person, right? You want to move on as a couple, as that impenetrable duo, right? Right on.
And, as such, you are focused on how to move forward. Your words, body language and tone will suggest this. I cannot stress this enough. The easiest way to ensure little to no progress in the world of tackling financial issues is to continue dwelling on what has already occurred and cannot be changed.
From a relationship-coaching perspective, what I have found the most frustrating is the reality that when people fight about money, it's really because they both want to see an end-state that directly benefits the duo or the family. Most of these fights are not about selfish intent.
And yet, there are bouts of insecurity, fear of the unknown, and a wee bit of the hero epidemic that will hinder progress and pull the plug on a good end-state. If we make the problems and the solutions about the "we," and move forward without reliving the past, the outlook is a lot brighter.
Guide your financial future by being an impenetrable duo in the present.
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