Building a life with someone means sharing even the most private parts of your life. But when it comes to talking about finances, for many, this is no easy feat. Finances are right up there with politics, religion, and body weight on the list of things that most people don’t like to discuss.
A recent Forbes study revealed that large groups of participants didn’t know if their partner carried debt, what their credit score was, or what they had in the way of retirement savings. The respondents in these groups kept separate bank accounts and were hesitant to share debt and salary information with their partners.
It’s no wonder that money issues are the primary cause cited for 22% of divorces. When we enter a relationship or marriage without being transparent about our finances, it can lead to difficulties down the road.
But whether you’re just feeling the first rounds of fireworks or working to relight the flame that’s been flickering for the last few decades, there are ways to have healthy, productive conversations with your partner about finances.
We mentioned earlier that many people are missing puzzle pieces when it comes to their partner’s finances. While their credit score may not be the most relevant number in your life, there are a few things that you should know.
Let’s talk about some important money questions to ask your partner, and then we’ll talk about the best ways to approach these conversations. If neither of you knows anything about the other’s salary, that would be a good place to start. Here are some more topics suggestions:
Vulnerability can actually improve your communication as a couple. Just think about the first time you told your spouse you loved them, proposed or were proposed to, or made a significant life change together. As a society, we fight against being vulnerable with the people we love, but our most vulnerable moments can be some of our best.
The best way to avoid stress seeping into money conversations with your partner is to enter into the conversation prepared. Write down questions you have or topics you want to cover ahead of time to give it more structure. Put a money meeting on your calendars and meet for it in your dining room with snacks in hand. Bring a handwritten or printed copy of your monthly budget.
If stress has been a major presence in these conversations in the past, try to make them lighter now. Change lines on your budget to make them more fun. It’s harder to get angry when you’re looking at a budget printout that says “love shack payment,” instead of “mortgage payment.”
Ease into the conversation and work on coming up with a financial plan you both agree on. After your meeting, pick a date a month or so out for your next money meeting to end on a high note and give yourselves something to look forward to.
Money problems are a major source of strain in intimate relationships. Remaining open, non-confrontational, and honest about your finances and checking in regularly can help minimize related stress and ensure that you and your partner stay on the same page.
Further, it can create a shared sense of purpose. Working toward a goal together is a great way to build a deeper bond, strengthening your relationship and understanding of one another.
If your finances are tangled and you’re having trouble sorting through them at home, consider calling in a professional. The right financial planner can not only help you sort out your finances in the present but can also make personalized suggestions for the future.