Discussing Money Issues With Your Wife or Husband

by RC on January 21, 2009

Usually, but not always, when a couple is having money problems, one of the two people in the relationship comes to the realization that things are not working financially, and something needs to change before the other one does. It doesn’t have to be major money problems, but it could be. It could be large amounts of debt, or it could be that you want to just start saving more for retirement, so you want to cut back on some of your budget categories or unaccounted-for spending.

Whether it is debt, overspending, or not saving enough, it is very easy for one person to accuse the other (whether directly or by thinking the other person is to blame) and for the discussion to quickly disintegrate into a full blown argument. It is mentioned all of the time, but it is true. Money is one of the major causes of divorce.

While my wife and I are not always on the same page, we do have discussions about money these days instead of arguments. We have common goals for our money, and can discuss them without things getting heated. Here are some tips for discussing money related issues with your spouse or partner.

Have a discussion, not an argument- It is very easy to start off with an accusatory tone when talking about problems with money. However, it is very likely that your partner will become defensive, and not really listen to the underlying message, but instead try to defend him or herself. Don’t accuse or argue, just discuss the issues in a calm manner.

Tell them what your goals are, and why you have them- Just saving money or not spending so much is a good idea, but what are your ultimate goals? Saving for a dream home, early retirement, or next year’s vacation is a concrete goal, and it’s likely that your spouse is probably interested in those types of goals as well.

Ask them what their goals are-Don’t focus only on yourself and your goals. What are your husband or wife’s goals? Are your goals more important than theirs? Are the similar? Try to compromise when possible.

Plan your future together- Marriage is a partnership-one person can’t dominate the relationship, whether it is money or the TV remote. (I know, I’ve tried to be in charge of the remote-it does not work!) Talking about your dreams for the future together can help you plan your future together.

Discuss solutions together- Don’t just tell them what you think the solution is, ask for their input. By solving problems together, you get your husband, wife, or partner involved in the changes, and they won’t fell like you are dominating the issues.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Slinky January 22, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Ideally, if one person thinks there should be a change in their financial situation, they should be able to simply bring up the subject. The other person should listen, possibly point out pros and cons and other pertinent points. Then some sort of compromise should be reached. It could be as simple as person 2 agreeing to the plan because person 1 wants it and they love them or a genuine compromise meeting somewhere in the middle. It should be as simple as that. My fiancee and I have restructured our entire plan with a 5 minute, let me pause my game kind of conversation. If talking about paying off debts or investing more or buying a new car causes arguments, money problems are not your only problems.


Trevor January 24, 2009 at 12:02 am

Love the post! And, no, I couldn’t agree more with you about making sure your significant other is a HUGE part of the family finances. My wife and I were married about 8 months ago, and we’ve made a real goal to work together from the start to make the money-thing work.

Love the blog! Keep up the good work!


RC January 25, 2009 at 10:56 am

@Slinky- You are right, it should be that simple. I think money problems, for some reason, have a way of causing problems in relationships as well, although in some cases as you mention, it can be indicative of a problem that already existed.


RC January 25, 2009 at 10:57 am

@Trevor- Thanks! Sounds like you and your new bride are starting off on the right track- which is great! Appreciate the compliment!


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