Do you talk about money and financial goals with your spouse? It’s a sensitive topic, and one which many couples do their best to steer clear of because it leads to more arguing than talking. Avoiding it altogether, though, can lead to even worse outcomes.
A lot of couples manage to get through day to day spending issues with their spouse, and might even work on paying down some debt together. However, it’s a whole other story when it comes to setting goals to get ahead and deciding what to do with savings. This is often when the gloves come off, and it can be enough to destroy a relationship.
Couples Benefit When Managing Money Together
While it doesn’t make discussing a sensitive topic any easier, know that working hard to get on the same page financially with your spouse is worth it in the long run. The benefits of couples working on their finances together are considerable, and include:
- Learning how to communicate better will reduce conflict in your relationship.
- You’ll face less stress, worry, fear and guilt.
- You can make decisions together and share the joys of those decisions with each other.
- And above all, you can stay focused on achieving your joint vision for your future together.
Start a Discussion About What’s Not Working with What Is Working
Money talks inevitably start with what’s not working and can quickly turn into an angry blame-game. To have a positive money talk with your spouse, start by finding some common ground. Discuss what is working for each of you and why it’s working.
What Does Your Spouse Think is Important?
Next identify 2 or 3 positive outcomes for each of you of working together on your finances. One of you might be really pleased that you’ve been able to pay off debt, or are working on doing that. The other might find that having more accountability around spending is valuable. Also share with each other why these outcomes are important to you. The reasons for why are your values.
Understanding what your spouse values, helps you understand why they may disagree with you. If deciding on a specific goal is contrary to what they value, the result is disagreement. Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes – how could you agree to something that’s totally opposite to what you deem important?
Set Goals Based on What You & Your Spouse Value
Once you know what is important to each other, set some small, realistic, short term goals that incorporate some of what’s important to each of you. Then draw on the success you realize in achieving these smaller goals to set longer term goals for the future and work on your budget to help you achieve them.
Keep Working Together
As you learn how to set goals that give each of you some of what you want, remember that it’s not about perfection or getting your way. Progress is what counts, so don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it!