Do you and your partner constantly bicker about money? When the topic turns to money, a calm conversation can quickly transform into a shouting match. Finances elicit all kinds of emotions from couples, so it’s important to set some ground rules for communicating about money. Some couples aren’t discussing finances at all, which can lead to even bigger problems, like financial infidelity. So if you’re at least discussing household finances with your loved one, you’re off to a good start.
Having the money talk
A recent study conducted at the University of North Carolina found that communication is vital in order for a couple to successfully get through a financial storm. The study asserts that open communication and working as a team can help solidify a couple’s bond. In addition, discussing money matters benefits both a couple’s financial and emotional well-being.
“Negotiating finances is an inherently communicative act, especially in married or cohabitating relationships. From everyday considerations, such as deciding which brands of groceries to purchase, to major decisions about whether to default on a mortgage, couples of all socioeconomic statuses are faced with financial choices that can affect their economic and relational well-being. An understanding of financial communication within the family context is important because financial choices influence families’ stability and quality of life,” said lead researcher Dr. Lynsey K. Romo.
Romo’s study analyzed three methods for dealing with financial uncertainty: reduction, maintenance, and adaptation. In order to conduct the research, Romo interviewed 40 people who were either married or living with someone. Most of the survey respondents chose to use a communication style that was conducive to the reduction of uncertainty.
- Communication can help manage uncertainty and lower stress.
- When partners communicate poorly it can make discussing financial matters difficult.
- Those who desire to reduce uncertainty tend to acquire information from trusted sources such as financial advisors and the media. Next, they will turn to friends an family, and then their own experiences.
- Barriers to information an include an overload of information or inadequate information.
Tips for talking to your love about money:
1. Stay calm
There may come a point where neither of you can agree on how a particular financial situation should be handled. However, yelling will not get your point across. Shouting over each other will just cause the other person to shut down and get defensive. If you feel like emotions are getting out of control and you cannot think clearly, stop and reconvene when you’re both feeling calmer.
2. Budget together
Sit down and go over your household budget as a team. This way you can both see what each of your financial obligations are as well as how you can each fully contribute to the household.
3. Hold regular meetings
Don’t just stop at the budget. Make a point to meet at least quarterly to discuss finances. All of your concerns should be addressed so that you can both find solutions together. This is not the time to try and hide financial blunders or point fingers for past mishaps.