In my line of work I see three different types of couples. Those who communicate about finances openly, those who kind-of talk about it but not really, and those who don’t touch it with a ten foot pole. What I have also noticed is those who communicate about finances opening tend to feel less tension in their relationship versus those who don’t.
Money is one of the leading causes of tension and stress in a relationship. Add in lack of communication, lack of expression of thoughts and feelings and you have yourself a deadly Molotov cocktail.
So many of us out there are ashamed to talk about money. Especially when it comes to our own money. Our fears come to the surface of not having enough money, having too much money, and everything in between. When it comes to being real, we tend to get quiet and shove the dirty details under the rug. When it comes to money with your significant other, there needs to be an open line of communication. This is the person you need to be able to talk to everything about. And I mean everything. Including your spending problems, debts owed, negative checking account. All. of. it.
When you move in with someone and combine finances, you need to talk about it. Married or not.
I know that might make you squirm in your seat uncomfortably. That’s okay. Because if I get you uncomfortable now, you’re less likely to get uncomfortable later when you actually have to sit down and talk about this stuff. Because you will. If you haven’t gotten honest with your partner yet, you’ll need to eventually. Money and finances are a big part of your relationship. Whether you pay for things separately or together, your money is being combined in a way that is supporting both of you. You share the roof over your head, the food in your kitchen, the utilities being used, the wifi. You both use them, so it’s time to stop treating your significant other as a roommate to life.
It’s time to get open and honest.
It’s time to dream and plan.
Now, before you go nuts on me for making you talk the gory details of your money situation with your spouse, let me clarify how I want you to go about this.
I’m not suggesting that you bombard your partner with “the money talk.” That makes everyone feel icky, and I’m not about that. What I am suggesting is that you get clear on where you stand with money. Take care of your side of the street. Explore your own view of the situation. Then, and only then, present your findings to your partner in a fun and loving way.
This sounds all wonderful on paper, but let’s dive in to what this means in real-life action steps.
TAKING CARE OF YOUR SIDE OF THE STEET
I want you to get clear on where you stand, in this moment. Throughout this exercise, remain open and don’t judge yourself. I want you to look at your current money situation from an observer point of view. Be kind to yourself and love yourself no matter what arises.
Grab your journal, a piece of paper, or open a fresh document on your computer and answer these questions for yourself. Be honest. Be vulnerable. Be real. Take your time and let your words flow onto the page.
How do you currently feel about money and your money situation?
Are you receiving what you need? (in any aspect)
What makes you feel supported when it comes to money? What makes you feel supported in your relationship?
How do you feel when you spend money on yourself? Does this come from a place of love or a place of fear?
What are you most scared of to share with your partner? What’s the worse case scenario? What’s the best?
How can you make creating a money plan with your partner fun and exciting?
What financial goal do you want to be working towards? What needs to occur for you to get there?
HAVING “THE TALK” WITH YOUR PARTNER
This doesn’t have to be nerve-wracking. This gets to be fun. This gets to be supportive. This gets to be about you and your partner. This doesn’t have to be a stuffy financial meeting. The first thing I want you to do is set an intention for this time with your partner. In what ways do you want to connect?
Then, Have fun with everything else!
Turn this into a date with your partner. Order or prepare one of your favorite meals, have an adult beverage (or if you're like me my partner, smoke a joint), play some soft music, light some candles. I want you to make this date all about you two. You know what you both enjoy, incorporate that here. Make it sexy. Make it exciting. Once you’re both comfortable and fed, sit down across from each other and ask your partner to be open and honest with you. Thank them for showing up. Thank them for being your partner in this life. Take a moment to just appreciate each other. Discussing your financial desires with your partner is intimate. It’s a topic that can be as sensitive as sharing your sexual desires.
Once you both feel ready, start talking about where you’re at individually. How has your partner been feeling about money? How have you been feeling? Make this space a safe container for both of you. Talk about whatever has been up for you. Talk to them about what brought you to read this article.
Pay close attention to any money topic that arises that can be rooted to something deeper. If you find something that has been buried, approach it lovingly and kindly. Look at it from an observer point of view and then come together with your partner to solve it. No problem is you vs. your significant other. It is always you + your partner vs. the problem. Never forget that.
You get to make this night into whatever you and your person need. This can be an opening discuss about money, a discussion of laying out a money plan, or getting clear on the goals you’re both working towards. Make this work for where you are. When you start where you are, magic happens.
At the end of this time with your partner, thank each other for showing up. Take their hands in your own and just take a few breaths together. Then celebrate the fact that you both made it out a little bit stronger.