Not yet married, maybe engaged, living together? Discussions about money before commitment to a life-time together include these hard topics:
- Do either of us have a history of bankruptcy?
- What kind of debt? If any, how much and for what and what are the plans for paying it down?
- What are the facts about investments, pensions and savings?
Tip for the unmarried:
Remember to avoid getting into renting or buying houses, cars etc. with your partner unless you are married.
Value driven discussion
Maybe you are getting ready for a money discussion or maybe you are at a crossroads after 50 years of marriage. It is never too late to discuss money matters with your partner in a more productive manner.
I work with couples. One couple was able to discover their unspoken values which then guided them out of an ongoing conflict. Turns out his value was safety and hers was creativity with regard to money. She was spending a lot of money on crafts and beauty salons and he was fearful of out of control spending, making him feel very unsafe. Understanding the underlying values allowed them to come up with a compromise on a reasonable amount of money she would spend that also helped him feel safe. Instead of being angry about his ‘need for control,’ she felt empathy for his need for safety and was surprised at his generous agreement.
Consider a value focus, rather than goal or problem focus. Here is some guidance to aid in a more productive conversation on this difficult topic:
Reflect privately and then discuss with each other about your individual values
- Ask yourself: What are my values tied to money and spending?
- Without a list, it can be hard to think about values. Increase your values vocabulary to aid your discussion by doing an on-line values sort with money in mind. You can also find many value list pdf’s on-line. Value ideas might include Generosity, Fun, Safety, Risk.
- Discuss: State what the values mean to you, ask your partner to summarize your statements
- Arrive at an understanding of each other’s sameness or differences with regard to money
These ongoing value-driven discussion will help resolve money conflicts but communication skills like those found on the Gottman website will aid you. Read some of the blog articles on their website – do it together.
There is great help and guidance on-line and one of my recommendations is this great resource for, as Dave puts it – telling your money where to go. https://www.ramseysolutions.com/
Money discussions are tough – don’t be discouraged and use these resources and ideas.
I can help – I specialize in couples therapy and while you may resolve a long-standing conflict, you also practice better communication skills with each other in session with me. I aim for 80% of our time together to be the two of you talking to each other. Often individuals learn something about themselves or their partner, they never realized until we are in session. This and other benefits of couples counseling may motivate you to seek out my help. Check out my couples page for more info: https://drdixonpsych.com/couples-therapy/