When it comes to money and relationships, things can get a little tense. I know that my husband and I sometimes have different financial priorities, and that it affects our relationship.
We haven’t, however, had a lot of fights about money recently.
Some of that has to do with acceptance of each others’ priorities, while some of it is a result of our increasing income (more money to go around). We’re fortunate in that regard, since it means we can reach our shared goals — and still have enough left over to spend on our individual priorities.
If you’re trying to avoid fighting about money with your significant other, there are some things you can try. Leo Willcocks, stress consultant and author of the upcoming book DeStress to Success, offers his suggestions for avoiding undue stress during financial discussions:
“Often we are trying so hard to get our point across that we are not really listening to what the other person is saying,” Willcocks points out. “When we listen, not just hear, we start to actually understand what the other person is communicating.”
He says that understanding leads to better discussions, and less resentment over money. I know this has helped my husband and me: even when we were stressed about money, we fought less when we took the time to listen and understand each other.
“After your loved one has said what they are thinking, take a moment to think about what they are saying,” Willcocks suggests. This isn’t about taking deep breaths or counting to 10. This is about truly considering what the other person is saying before responding to it. “This goes hand-in-hand with listening,” he says.
“A lot of stress — especially in finances — comes from misunderstanding,” Willcocks says. “After you have listened and thought about what they have said, clarify with them.” You need to understand where your partner is coming from. “This way, if there is a misunderstanding it can be sorted out quickly, without the stress levels rising.”
4. Don’t Be a Doormat
Just because you’re listening and understanding doesn’t mean you should let your partner walk all over you. Willcocks points out that, “You need to be heard and have your needs understood.” He says that after you’ve shown respect to your partner by listening and understanding, your partner needs to do the same for you. Money decisions must come from a place of mutual respect.
Finally, it’s time to compromise as you make your money decisions. “Once you have both shared your perspectives about the finances, you may find that you actually see things the same way,” Willcocks says. “However, this is not always the case. If you have different points of view, then you need to work together.”
He suggests choosing an outcome that allows you to both get what you want. If this isn’t possible, you need to compromise enough so that you’re both reasonably satisfied. Early in our relationship, my husband and I often had to make choices and go through a process of give and take, since there wasn’t enough money to go around for all our “fun” wants. During that time period, being able to compromise was essential.
With a little effort, and by remembering that you love each other, it should be possible to avoid fighting with your partner about finances.
What’s you favorite trick for avoiding the dreaded money fight?