Many couples manage their money without endless arguments but for some, talking about money without it turning into a row is almost impossible. Even if you and your partner don’t argue you may find it hard to talk about money. Find out how to break that barrier.
(one study carried out a few years ago found that as many as 75% of couples said money was hard to talk about). And while disagreements don’t have to lead to breakup or divorce, the relationship counselling service Relate says that rows about money are a major factor in many divorces.
Why do we find money hard to talk about?
For some of us, money is one of the last taboos. We find it hard to talk openly about our attitude to money. It may be because:
- Money wasn’t talked about when we were growing up. If our parents had a difficult relationship with money that may be something we pick up.
SAVVY TIP: Christine Webber, a psychotherapist and broadcaster, says that all couples should have a ‘money conversation’, whether you’ve recently got together or have been together for years.
- Money may represent more than cash. Karen Pine, professor of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and the co-author of a finance book for women called Sheconomics says that this can be a block for couples. “One person’s attitude to money can really be about their fears, insecurities or need for power. Unless those are worked out – through talking openly and honestly – money can be a battleground.”
The money conversation
So if you’ve never had a money conversation before where do you begin? The starting point has to be yourself.
1. Be honest about how you manage your own money. Do you think money is for spending or saving? Does it make you anxious or are you quite confident about managing your budgets and sorting out your savings?
2. Do you know why you’re a spender or a saver? Understanding your own money motivation can hellp
3. Don’t assume your way is the right way. Christine Webber says this can be a recipe for disaster. “We all tend to think that our way of doing things is the right way but you have to take a step back and assess your decisions in a calm and logical way.”
3. Allow each other some freedom. If things are tight don’t chastise each other for spontaneous spending – agree a monthly budget for personal or frivolous spending.
Tricky money conversations
If you know that talking about money is likely to start an argument, set ground rules for your first conversation. Here are some tips from psychologist Christine Webber:
1. Toss a coin to start your conversation. Whoever wins can talk for five minutes uninterrupted.
2. Set some ground rules. There should be no swearing, shouting or stomping off, otherwise it won’t work.
3. Swap one the time is up. Once the five minutes is up, swap round.
4. Keep swapping. Keep going until you can see a way forward or until you’ve used up half an hour.
SAVVY TIP: Five minutes is quite a long time when you’re not being interrupted and it can be surprisingly effective.
If you’re still arguing
And if you still can’t agree, it may be time to get a third party involved, says Denise Knowles from Relate.
An outside perspective can be useful as it means that someone else can point out where there may be problems and some people respond better to a neutral third party
SAVVY TIP: One option is to find an independent financial adviser who’s happy to carry out a review of your finances for a fixed fee. Be aware that this could cost several hundred pounds.
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