Bringing Up the Subject of Money With Your Spouse

Bringing Up the Subject of Money With Your Spouse

To continue our series on Relationships and Money, let's get down to brass tacks: how to talk about money in the first place. It's a point of contention for many couples, and the subject has caused countless broken marriages. Let's find out how to step gingerly on the minefield of money...

Why is Money Difficult to Talk About?

Opening the lines of communication about money can be hard. No matter how much you and your spouse communicate in other areas of your lives, finances can be a little trickier for a couple of reasons.

First, many people become ingrained in financial habits. Whether it is a daily latte (my former nemesis) or years of habitually separate finances, asking anyone to change can be difficult, especially if the system has worked well for so long.

Second, money issues are still taboo. Most people will not talk about money easily because it is not a subject they freely discuss in the first place, even with their spouse. For example, my family never discussed money, and when I was first married, I found finances a difficult subject to bring up.

Opening the Lines of Communication

If either of those reasons for communication issues resounds with you, broaching finance issues can seem really difficult. For me, both reasons made me feel awkward discussing finances with my husband; we were ingrained in separate checking habits and money was a subject I avoided.

So how do you open communication if one or both of you feel awkward? I took one way — the chicken’s way — to introduce the idea. I dropped the idea into a separate conversation, then quickly moved on to something else. My husband thought it over, I laid my idea out in a budget, and we discussed it openly later. Might of been chicken, but it worked for us.

If you’re not fowl (bawk, bawk) like me, however, you can open the communication in other ways. For example, you could:

  • Lay out a financial plan and introduce it on paper
  • Sit down, take a deep breath, and chat heart to heart. Sometimes thinking about things like this is scarier than actually doing them.
  • Or you could blurt it out over dinner at a restaurant you cannot afford

I've heard stories of the discussion being broached in all three of these ways! Whatever your ideal way to open the lines of communication, the important thing is to make the experience collaborative rather than adversarial. Being able to talk and listen to each other is key to communicating your desires and understanding each others' points of view.

Overall, introducing the idea of joint finances or a collaborative journey may seem very difficult, but if you do it right, you can be on your way to a financially fit new adventure, a money dance, per se.

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Lindy Mint's picture

Lindy Mint wrote:

Wed, 02/16/2011 - 19:21 Comment #: 1

My husband and I can talk about everything, but when it comes to money I always find myself clamming up. I guess I don't want to have the stigma of being the one to ruin all the fun.

I will find times to bring it up when I know we will have a prolonged period of time together, like long car rides, instead of dropping in on him when we are passing in the kitchen.

I also find that your chicken method works too. Sometimes the opportunity to slip a point in in relation to another conversation works wonders.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Thu, 02/17/2011 - 15:30 Comment #: 2

Lindy Mint, now that we have the financial conversations rolling, I love talking on long car rides, too! What is it about sitting next to each other, looking straight ahead, that makes financial conversations easier?

First Gen American's picture

First Gen American wrote:

Thu, 02/17/2011 - 21:30 Comment #: 3

I think part of the problem, is not everyone sees money management and learning about personal finances as a fun hobby. A lot of people view it as "work", so when you sit down to talk about money with your spouse, it can be construed as wanting to talk about your honey do list.

I try to keep the money talk to a minimum. I give him a 5 minute summary once a month and we talk a little more at tax time, but other than that, he lets me handle the nitty gritty.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Mon, 02/21/2011 - 17:19 Comment #: 4

First Gen ~ Very true about finances being work, or a Honey Do list -- my husband and I both think finances are work, but work that is well worth the rewards. Btw, I like the way you work on your finances!

6 Subject Money Sites's picture

6 Subject Money Sites wrote:

Wed, 02/08/2012 - 21:04 Comment #: 5

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