Key takeaways

  1. Money is one of the leading causes of relationship issues, stress, and divorce – a strategy for effective communication about finances is essential for a successful relationship
  2. Better communication starts with a judgment free zone, where you can openly share your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about money
  3. Exploring your feelings is essential to unlocking a deeper understanding of your partner’s point of view
  4. Life and how your money impacts it, are often changing. Scheduling regular “money dates” is critical to healthy and collaborative conversations
  5. With the right strategy in place, money can become a powerful tool and catalyst to building the life you and your partner want together

There are two things we are never taught about in school: relationships and money. However, both of them affect our lives every day.

Put the two together and you have quite the recipe for a difficult conversation. Money is one of the leading causes of relationship issues, stress and divorce, so it’s imperative that couples find a way to talk about their finances in an open, non-judgmental and empathetic manner. There are simple steps that can be taken to start talking about finances and having more effective conversations.

Many couples want to start conversations about money, or solve issues they are having with their finances. The good news is that regardless of where they are, there’s a strategy that can turn money and finances into a catalyst for a happier, more connected relationship that helps them understand each other more.

Step 1: Create a no judgment zone

Before you begin, you should both agree to be intentional about creating a safe space to talk about some really hard things. You’ve both come to the relationship with deep-seated feelings and beliefs, and those feelings and beliefs can be difficult to discuss. The way to reduce that anxiety is to listen and be open-minded, rather than judgmental.

For most of us, it’s easy to become defensive when discussing a difficult or uncomfortable topic. That’s just the way we are wired. In the back of our minds, we’re afraid that our partner will disagree, judge, or criticize.

If we apply this to a difficult conversation about money, the most important thing you can do is create an environment in which you both feel safe to say whatever you’re feeling. The easiest way to do that is simply to listen, support, and show empathy - there is no right or wrong here. The environment matters as well. You need to be in a space that is free from distractions so you can be fully present and truly listening.

If you remain open-minded and listen to your partner, you’ll uncover everything from their greatest fears to their biggest dreams. That’s the beginning of a conversation that can substantially improve your relationship.

Step 2: Know your money personality

Everyone has a unique story to tell about money that’s influenced by their parents, friends, and their community and culture. In fact, our feelings and beliefs about money are often fully formed by the ages of seven to nine, and we carry these values with us into our adult years and into our relationships. 

Your history with money, all the way back to your childhood, affects how you think, feel and act when it comes to finances. Exploring this with your partner will uncover their beliefs and values which you may not have known before.

The mistake that most couples make when talking about money is that they only focus on the dollars and cents. However, the real issues are how much to spend on big purchases, how much to save, and how nervous or secure each partner feels about their financial situation. It’s critically important to understand what’s behind those feelings and what each partner’s money personality is. A way to explore your money personality is to take a money personality quiz- there are several available you can use. Taking a quiz with your partner is a good starting point and it can open up conversations about why you both feel the way you do. Discuss your answers and be open-minded, fully present, and listen thoughtfully. 

Step 3: Schedule money dates

All relationships need a little TLC, and your relationships with money are no different.

Life is ever-changing and your financial situation is as well. Marriage, children,  career changes, college, retirement, or the passing of a loved one will all impact your financial situation and the decisions you make. 

To ensure your relationship with money and each other remains healthy through the twists and turns of life, schedule regular money dates.

Find a time and place where you can both relax, share your thoughts and opinions, be empathetic, and listen to each other. You may even want to bring in a professional to help you navigate the conversation and understand the implications of the various choices you want to make. Whether you schedule them weekly, monthly, or some other time, commit to making them happen. 

Your relationship with money can have a substantial impact on your relationship with your partner. It can be a roadblock or a catalyst to better alignment on financial goals and greater intimacy and connection as a couple. It’s a challenging topic to discuss for any couple regardless of age and length of the relationship, but it doesn’t have to be. 

With the right strategy and an ongoing financial plan, you can have effective conversations about money as your life evolves and your financial needs change. To navigate every stage of life together, keeping your finances front and center can be the catalyst for building the life you and your partner want together.

Learn how a CFP® Professional at Facet can help make hard conversations about money easier and help you and your partner get aligned in your financial goals.