September 8th, 2019
If you are a newly-wed or in a committed relationship, it is crucial to develop a healthy and supportive communication dynamic between all parties in order to avoid a relationship disaster. In our relationships, we need to learn early on whether we have complementary or opposing views on money and finances. There is a number of basic steps that we need to understand and learn in order to move the relationship ahead in a healthy manner.
We believe one of the first steps that must be taken is to simply talk about what those opposing views are. And when you are talking about them, be sure to avoid a few obvious mistakes that we all make in conversation.
For example, timing is very important, so if one partner has been stressed at work, you don’t want to talk about bills or overdue commitments. Choosing the appropriate time is essential so you can have the most productive conversation. You know your husband/wife/ partner better than anyone else, so be sure to pick a time when you are fairly sure he or she will be the most receptive.
When you argue about finances, you might discover it is due to what you “have not” been discussing or if you have been making too many assumptions. Focusing on your concerns can prevent a lot of these arguments. You might feel uncomfortable talking about some of the topics, but they may lead to purposeful conversation about your hope for the future such as your retirement goals, vacations, family situations, etc. When you are having a conversation with your partner, do you find yourself being distracted or not listening carefully? You need to be a good listener and stop interrupting every few minutes. Be “present” during your interactions. An easy way to do this is to not be distracted by your cell phone or other devices. Be sure to show that you grasp what is being said by nodding and repeating what you heard to to ensure you understand and are paying attention.
We all have heard the familiar, “Be sure to have an open mind.” It’s good to hear this frequently because we all value money and finances differently. And it’s understandable because what you might consider a bargain, someone else might call expensive. So, the end goal is really not to judge your partner’s actions and behaviors. Rather, it should be to have a more distinct understanding of why they feel the way they do, and what led them to their perception or opinion. Many times a discussion about money becomes a predictable and reasonable discussion about values. When you know what your partner values, you can be a bit more understanding or compassionate about their decisions. And sometimes, (as the saying goes) you can simply “agree to disagree.” Another very healthy dynamic in aiming for success in these discussions, is to be sure to include your financial advisor or wealth manager in the conversation. It’s a good idea to produce a written summary of your objectives or intentions and supply this to your advisor in advance of your meeting so it goes as smoothly as possible.