Whether you are about to be married, just married, or have been partners for many years, you need to talk to about money. I don’t mean yell about it…. I mean really have a conversation about it. There are many crucial components to a lasting marriage, but MONEY seems to be more difficult to talk about than sex. Talking about sex can at least lead to having sex…. money talks don’t usually end that way. In fact, money resentments usually lead to sexless marriages….
Therefore, first and foremost, do NOT have this discussion in bed. Get out of bed and go into the kitchen if you are suddenly find yourself on this subject while propped up watching TV. I am a huge proponent of protecting your sex life and the sexiness of your bedroom… but that’s another post.
Find a neutral time and place when you are not fighting about it and agree to approach this with interest and curiousity.
Ultimately the goal is to reach “a shared vision” around money and, eventually, all areas of your relationship.
Things to remember:
1. Whether you realize it or not, you learned a lot of core values and lessons about money growing up in your family of origin. I am here to tell you that your family was not right about everything. There is more than one way to look at money. Your partner has learned their own values and lessons about money too. They could have been rich or poor and your partner may want to do the exact opposite of everything their own family did. Money is emotional, the lessons and/or scars run deep, and it is a more personal issue than we sometimes realize. Approach the subject with an open mind… and an open heart.
2. Listen to each other tell the story of money in their lives… growing up. Did they know if their parents were stressed about bills? Did they talk about it? Did they learn to admire or resent people with money? How were credit cards handled in their family? How do they feel about carrying debt? Filing bankruptcy? Gambling? Saving? Did both parents work? What were the MESSAGES they heard about money and abundance or lack thereof??? Again, you may be surprised at the emotion, the shame, the pride, and the so-called absolutes, around the topic.
3. It sounds terribly un-romantic, but you two run a family business together. The Business of Your Family. So the two CEO’s that come from different “business schools”, now have to run things together. Believe me, the more clarity the two of you can have around this topic, the more room there is for love to grow (and sex to happen!) You must be on the same team. So therefore, take these questions above and discuss how you two, together, would like to approach these topics for YOUR family. You are the creators now. How much do we have? How much do we want? How much can we save? How much can we splurge? What feels like a splurge to you? How do you feel about credit cards? Gambling? Investments?
And what kind of words do we want to say to our children about money? Is it “no! don’t be ungrateful, we don’t have money for that” or is it “it’s ok to want it, but that’s not in the budget, maybe next time.” Do you want to have a family “wish list” or vacation goals?
When the two of you share the vision, you can actually enjoy the benefit of being married and not feeling alone in the world financially and emotionally. With a positive approach to running the business as a team, you will find that money will come into your life more easily and that you can enjoy the other aspects of your relationship and family far more.
4. A word about “Financial Infidelity” – This painful problem is when there is a partner who “cheats” by hiding thier spending and running up credit cards without the other’s knowledge. This can be a bigger betrayal than sexual infidelity because there is so much actual damage to the other partner. That partner now has years of payments, debts, and interest to deal with after the spending binge has happened. This can turn your finances upside down and can wreak more havoc in your romantic life than a sexual betrayal. Both are painful; both have long term effects. You must seek help the first time this happens. You are bound by law to deal with what your spouse does financially, and in the same way that you would seek help if they were doing drugs, spending addiction requires attention!!! This website and many others provide information about what consitutes an addiction and what kind of help is out there. http://www.addictionrecov.org/Addictions/?AID=34
You cannot escape the subject of money in your marriage. Better to talk about it now than waste it all on divorce lawyers later. Remember: You are on the same team and you want a shared vision. Approach the topic with “interest and curiousity” and honor each other’s history. Oh, and not in the bedroom! : )
I love working with couples around this topic… if you are both willing to talk about it, I am happy to help. Check out coaching packages at http://makeyourlifefabulous.com/sophie/