How to Avoid Money Arguments With Your Significant Other
by Megan Poore
How can I fight with thee about money? Let me count the ways… Money arguments can pop up for any number of reasons. It is common for one partner to complain about how another is spending money. Disagreements can come from helping family members with their finances or for differences in opinion about charitable giving. Perhaps sometimes you feel like you’re not even speaking the same language. And since that causes stress, perhaps you compensate by avoiding the subject. You’re not alone! Here are a couple ideas for getting your financial communication game back on track.
Identify your mindset: While there is a lot of room for nuance, we each tend to fall into one of two outlooks when it comes to finances – scarcity or abundance. Someone who has a scarcity outlook is likely to feel most confident when they are saving money and may tend to be more concerned about the possibility of future calamities that may impact their financial comfort. Someone who has an outlook of abundance is less likely to be fearful of future actions because they trust that it will all work out just fine.
Respect your significant other’s mindset: In working with couples for more than a dozen years, I can assure you that it is rare for two people to have the same outlook about money. More often what I see is that partners tend to have opposing views about money – one may have a scarcity outlook while the other has an abundance outlook. In order to help avoid arguments, it is important to understand your partner’s mindset and to respect the value of your partner’s mindset. If you both had the same outlook, life would probably be pretty boring. Furthermore, having a balance of both is important. The scarcity partner may need the abundance partner to give them permission to let go and use their money now instead of saving everything for “later.”
Set aside time to discuss finances: Couples often avoid money discussions, which means that the topic tends to come up in a stressful setting. Perhaps a certain trigger brings up a money discussion that quickly leads to an argument. A strategy that has worked for several of my clients is to set aside a regular time to review finances, perhaps weekly or monthly. Have an agenda – review your assets and liabilities or the previous week/month’s spending. With additional opportunities to discuss your finances, you’ll build a better blueprint for having the discussions and it may help you to identify and correct smaller financial concerns before they become full-blown problems.
Bring in a third party: If you’ve tried and tried to work together on a solution but just cannot come to an agreement, it may be time to bring in a professional. For the occasional financial disagreement, you may benefit from working with a financial advisor who is willing to take the time to help you two talk through the disagreement. Most of the time, though, a marriage counselor is your best resource. This is what they do all day, every day. A good therapist can help you celebrate all of the things that are working well in your relationship and to work through any trouble areas.
Most importantly, don’t fall into the mistaken belief that you’re the only one with these challenges. You are in very good company. Good luck and God bless!
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