Can you share ideas on how we, as a couple, can work together on our finances without ending up in an argument?
by USU Extension Assistant Professor, Elizabeth Davis
Money affects every facet of our lives, particularly our relationship with our partner. Marriage.com lists financial stress as the No. 2 reason for divorce among couples. If you and your spouse don’t have positive communication around money, it can lead to disagreements, fighting, and significant problems.
In order to prevent financial stress from damaging your relationship it is important to talk about money with your partner in a positive way. Do not wait until there is a problem such as an unanticipated bill or overspending. There are numerous courses, apps, and money management tools that can assist in the managing of money (i.e.: Utah Money Moms), but how do we learn to identify the way we feel about money?
Fortunately, there is Money Habitudes, which is a game-like tool that helps people understand and talk about their finances in a fun, constructive way. It is an activity that helps you identify your primary money habitudes (attitudes and habits). Does money equal security for you? Status? Ability to give to charity? Does it make you feel spontaneous? Carefree? Or do you love to plan how your money is used and have specific financial goals you are pursuing? Use the Money Habitudes activity and find out! There are two versions, you can buy the physical cards or use an online version . Money Habitudes uses an approach that helps us identify our own money beliefs and strengths. It then gives specific suggestions on ways to address areas of weakness. Understanding our own and our partner's money motivations enables us to talk about money constructively and to plan to use money in a way that meets everyone’s needs.
While learning about your money habitudes, John Gottman, relationship expert, advises that a couple should be intentional about starting a serious conversation, because, according to him, “94% of the time, the way a discussion starts determines the way it will end.” (Gottman & Silver, 1999) The following researched based suggestions can help us be intentional in addressing hard topics (such as money) with our spouse:
1. Have a time set aside to talk free of distractions.
2. Be sure to start with a positive comment: i.e.: “I’m glad that we are spending time together to figure out how we can more effectively reach our financial goals”
These tools, combined with your effort, can assist you in creating a happy marriage and successfully managing your finances.