Everyone knows communication is key to a happy marriage. Couples love talking about their future together and exciting vacation plans, but avoid the tough conversations like finances. In fact, 91 percent of Americans said they actively found reasons to avoid discussing money with their partners, according to an American Express Spending and Saving Tracker poll.
Even though they’re not communicating about money, couples are stressing about it. A Money Magazine poll found four out of five spouses believe they’re on the same page as their partner when it comes to money, but 22 percent of husbands and wives have spent money they didn’t want their partner to know about.
According to the same Money Magazine poll, 70 percent of couples report fighting over money. These arguments focus mainly on frivolous spending, savings, deceit, and exclusion from decisions.
A Utah State University study found that couples who reported disagreeing about money at least once a week were more than 30 percent more likely to divorce than couples who reported disagreeing about finances a few times a month.
It’s difficult enough for a single person to stay on top of budgeting, spending, and paying bills, and finances become that much more challenging as a married couple. Here are some tips for a healthy financial discussion with your significant other.
- Talk early. Discuss possible financial concerns before they become a problem. Emotions will be lower, creating conditions more conducive to a constructive conversation, rather than a fight.
- Keep emotions at bay. Money is an emotional topic. Most people have opinions about what they earn, spend, and save – and it can be difficult to see another point of view. Try to stick to the facts of the topic and be prepared for his or her emotional response. Be sure to acknowledge how the topic makes him or her feel and to explain how it makes you feel. Remember that if you both remain calm, you’ll be able to reach a resolution more effectively.
- Ask for your partners input. You may feel confident you know the best way to handle your household’s money, but it’s important to remember your finances are a team effort. Ask for your partner’s input even if he or she isn’t volunteering it. Your significant other might have a point of view you hadn’t considered, and it’s important that you both feel a valuable part of your home’s finances.
- Hiding doesn’t help. Open up completely about whatever financial topic you’re discussing. Don’t try to hide purchases or lie about financial mistakes you’ve made. The more transparent you are, the more both your finances will benefit.
- Get help. Credit unions are member-owned and are dedicated solely to service. They can provide expert advice to couples, whether they’re just starting out or need to get on better financial footing.