Six Steps To Gaining A Healthy Financial Relationship
One of the biggest predictors of a relationship coming to a gridlock and subsequently ending in contempt is a couple not figuring out how to nurture their financial relationship. Money has been known to be associated with conflict and problems. In fact, there are many common sayings about money that illustrate this such as:
- More Money..More Problems
- Money is the root to all evil
- Money ruins relationships
The reality is, it is rare that money is considered an entity that can build and strengthen one’s relationship. In fact, in my experience, couples have a tendency to avoid communication as it relates to their finances. Sometimes there is an avoidance all together, and other times, couples learn to avoid it out of fear of creating more conflict. There are also times when beliefs that have been inherited early on life influence one’s willingness to open up and share as it relates to finances. One of the biggest problems in relationships is not mastering early on the ability to communicate about money.
The good news is that there are couples out there that have learned to master the ability to invite and welcome financial intimacy into their lives. Although most of us were not taught how to communicate and nurture our relationship with money, the ability to do so is something that can ultimately be learned. A healthy financial relationship with your partner is not only critical, it is something that is necessary for a healthy relationship as with any other form of intimacy.
In this article, I will share with you the necessary steps one must take to gain a healthy relationship with their partner. Although it is highly beneficial to integrate these steps early on in one’s relationship, these steps can begin at any point as long as both partners are willing to work together and can see the value in working toward gaining financial intimacy and peace.
Step 1: Identify Common Financial Values and Beliefs
Prior to having a conversation about finances with your partner, you will need to sit down and personally reflect on what your own personal financial values, beliefs, strengths, and areas of growth are. What are your specific beliefs about money and where do they come from? What are some of your own fears if applicable, struggles, or even areas that you consider nonnegotiable?
Once each of you are clear on this, you can sit down and have an open and honest conversation about your overall values, beliefs, expectations, etc. You will need to listen for common goals, beliefs, values, expectations as it relates to the following and more:
- Savings vs Spending
- Owning vs Renting
- Children and Education
- Saving for Emergencies vs other goals
- Traveling and Hobbies
- Needs vs Wants
- Financial Goals – Short and Long Term
- Priorities vs things that can wait
Step 2. Respect Differences
It is not unusual for two people with different histories to have different values and beliefs as it relates to finances. If you discover during your exploration phase that there are areas that you disagree on, continue to explore if there are still common areas that you do agree on and try to work from there. I often find that some couples share the same common end goal, but just have differences of opinions as to how to reach the goal. My recommendation is to start with what you agree on and work backward. You may find that it is easier to respect that you have different ways of getting to the same end goal and find a way to negotiate your plan. You can even experiment or blend your ideas and figure out which one works the best after a certain time frame has passed.
If you still find that you two come to an area that you are gridlocked on, both of you need to decide if you can accept that you will just disagree on that particular issue. All gridlocked issues don’t have to make or break a relationship, however some will. This will be a personal decision that only you two can make. There has to be some level of financial compatibility in order to make a relationship work.
Next week, we will discuss steps 3-4 that will help you gain a healthy financial relationship with your partner.