Arguing about money? Guidelines for a conversation that will bring you closer
Guidelines for a successful conversation about money
- Accept that you and your partner will have differences. No two people think exactly alike about money and finances. One partner tends to be the saver and the other the spender. One says we can’t afford this and the other says we can’t afford not to do this. Each position has its value.
- Take full responsibility for your mindset. Recognize that your mindset is not the only way to see the world, and that it has affected how you have reacted to your partner.
- Set aside an uninterrupted time to talk. Usually 20 minutes is enough. Don’t try to solve all the issues in one meeting. Set up another time if not everything gets discussed. Don’t prolong difficult or conflicted discussions. Take a break if emotions become too heated. Resume the conversation when you have cooled down and as soon as possible.
- Find an appropriate setting where you can listen and focus on each other without distractions.
- While you are talking make eye contact so you each feel what you are saying is valued and you are being heard.
- Talk using I statements, not You statements. You statement are about your partner and they usually provoke defensiveness.
- Take turns talking. When it is your turn you keep to 3 sentences starting with these sentence stems:
- “What I am making myself think is…”
- “What I am making myself feel about this is…”
- “What I would appreciate your doing about this is…”
“What I am making myself think is we don’t have enough money to pay our bills.
“What I am making myself feel about it is fear.”
“What I would appreciate your doing is having a conversation with me to prioritize paying
Your partner responds using the same process.
- Monitor your tone of voice. Your tone is just as important as what you say. If your tone sounds critical or blaming rather than non-judgmental, your conversation can quickly turn into the blame game.
- Be mindful that when you talk you are telling your partner the thoughts and feelings you have created. You are not talking to change your partner. When you are listening, your goal is to hear your partner’s thoughts and feelings. You are not listening to defend or justify yourself. When you keep good boundaries you can talk without blaming or reacting.
- After 15 minutes each of you write out 3 changes you will make in the next week to improve your financial situation. Your goals are what you will do, not what you want your partner to do. Put your energy into changing yourself. If you have a shared goal you are both doing together that is a major accomplishment.
- Practice gratitude for each step your partner takes in listening to you and sharing with you. Be appreciative of every step he or she takes to improve your financial situation. We do more of what we are appreciated for. No one feels too appreciated.