Talking about money with your partner can be stressful and may lead to conflict. This is often due to misunderstandings but can also stem from the fact that you and your partner aren’t entirely on the same page regarding money.
But given that money is the number one stressor for so many couples worldwide, it's beneficial for your marriage if you can talk about money with your spouse without breaking into an argument or fight.
So, with that in mind, this article introduces nine simple steps that will help you talk to your partner about money, as well as some of the reasons why talking to your partner about money might be causing you stress in the first place.
How to talk to your partner about money in 9 simple steps
Granted, talking to your partner about money can be stressful, but following these nine simple steps can make the process much easier and less likely to end in conflict:
Step 1: Plan the conversation beforehand
Instead of springing a conversation about money on your spouse out of the blue, let them know that you want to chat about money in the coming days. You should also be specific with them and explain why you want to talk to them about money.
You might, for instance, want to talk about your mortgage or rental payments, or you might have some things you want to discuss meeting your savings goals. When you’ve let your partner know that you want to talk about money, plan a day and time to have the conversation so they’re ready for it in advance.
Step 2: Prepare yourself
You must head into a conversation with your spouse about money in the right frame of mind. Starting the conversation when you’re stressed or in a bad mood will set the tone for a difficult conversation.
Make sure you’re in the right headspace and enter the conversation with an open mind. While you might not necessarily agree with what your partner has to say about the topics you discuss, you need to be willing to listen to their point of view and ideas.
You're much less likely to fight about your finances if you’re mentally prepared to have a positive conversation.
Step 3: Connect with your partner
Remember that you’re sitting down with the person you love and respect, so make sure you connect with your partner during your conversation about money. Maintain eye contact and be positive with your body language to show that you’re interested in what your spouse is saying.
Some couples find that holding hands can be beneficial when talking about complex topics, as it’s a reminder that they’re connected and together, regardless of the difficulty of the conversation. So, don’t underestimate the importance of body language, eye contact, and even bodily contact when talking to your spouse about money.
Step 4: Be respectful
You don’t need us to tell you that respect is one of the most essential things in any relationship. When talking about money, you must be respectful of your partner’s views, regardless of whether or not you agree with them.
The best way to show respect is to listen attentively to what they’re saying. You should let them finish their point without interrupting and be careful not to patronise or talk down to them when it’s your turn to speak.
Showing respect even when you disagree will help you have a reasonable conversation about money and hopefully lead to positive outcomes.
Step 5: Ease into the conversation
Instead of jumping straight into the most challenging topics of conversation, ease into your chat about money with open questions inviting your partner to say their piece. There are lots of questions you can ask to ease into the conversation (depending on the topic that you want to bridge), including the following:
· What would your perfect financial situation be for our family?
· How do you see our financial future looking?
· What are your financial priorities for this year?
· What are our best options for saving more money this year?
It’s always a good idea to start with an open question as it shows that you want your partner’s opinion and involve them from the start rather than simply making your own case about your financial situation.
Step 6: Delve deeper into the conversation
After your initial exchanges, it’s time to delve deeper into the conversation; here, you can get to the crux of the topic you want to discuss and hopefully make some favourable resolutions. Again, asking questions is a great way to delve deeper respectfully.
Let’s say you want to improve your joint savings; here are some examples of the questions that you might ask:
· How much do you think we should both save from our salaries each month?
· What do you think is the best way to save money?
· Should we set up an ISA?
· What exactly are we saving for?
Again, delving deeper into the conversation with questions is a great way to build trust and respect with your partner, and it’s a great way to work towards a financial plan, as we explain below.
Step 7: Create a financial plan
You’re now ready to put together a financial plan with your partner based on the conversation that you’ve just had. As there’s likely to be a fair amount of compromise and negotiation here, it’s important not to lose your head and fall out with one another.
Assuming you’ve agreed to save £500 per month (half from each of your salaries), your financial plan should include details of how to save the money and where to store it (in an ISA, in a savings account, etc.). You should also set terms for how and when the money can be accessed and for what reason.
Find out more about the HyperJar budgeting app and how it can help you and your partner set and stick to your financial goals.
Step 8: Conclude the conversation
Given how difficult it is to talk to your spouse about money, it’s a good idea to end the conversation on a high. End with something you appreciate about your spouse and mention a moment from your conversation that inspired you.
You can also bring the conversation to a close by reaffirming the actions that you’ve agreed upon and saying that you’re excited about the future.
If the conversation has been pretty challenging, take your partner out for a drink or a meal to unwind and focus on other aspects of your relationship now that you’ve had a productive conversation about your finances.
Step 9: Plan your next money talk
While you don’t have to talk about money with your partner every day or week, it is important to discuss your finances regularly to ensure that you’re on top of your income and expenditure.
So, put a date in the diary for the near future to go over the new financial plans that you have laid out and to discuss other aspects of your financial health. This will make talking about money second nature to you and your partner and strengthen your relationship.
Common reasons why talking about money with your spouse or partner can lead to conflict
It’s important to realise that you’re not alone when it comes to arguing with your spouse about money, as it affects people worldwide. Everyone is different, but some of the reasons why you might fight with your partner about money include the following:
· You come from different financial backgrounds and view money differently.
· You have different financial priorities and your preferences for spending your money.
· You’re stressed about your debts or the number of expenses that you have each month.
· You struggle to make enough money to pay your bills on time.
· You (or your partner) spend too much money on something that causes friction in your relationship.
If any of the above resonates with you, it’s helpful to acknowledge them before talking to your partner about money so that you can have a productive conversation.
Final thoughts: how do I stop fighting about money with my husband, wife, or partner?
The above nine steps will help you stop fighting about money with your partner, but they alone might not be enough to see you through a positive conversation.
As such, it’s imperative to adjust your mindset and acknowledge that it’s perfectly okay for you and your partner to come from different places regarding money management. Rather than fighting about your different opinions, be respectful and understanding of your partner’s viewpoint.
Even though you might not agree with everything they say about money, maintaining an open mind and respecting your spouse’s opinions will help you have productive conversations about money.