This is part one of three on how couples can resolve the constant fighting over money in their daily lives.
This should not come as a shock. When approaching anything major in life, the conversation must inevitably turn to the financial ramifications. Big-ticket items such as shelter, food, career, education, retirement, healthcare, and transportation all have money serving as the underlying theme in the discussion. And when all the minor day-to-day decisions are factored in, it becomes clear money is at the core of almost everything we do.
Many couples do not adequately prepare for the challenges money decisions will create. With each person bringing into the relationship a different background, personality and opinion, money can easily ignite a firestorm of controversy as these differences clash with one another. Before you know it, the continuing conflict can lead couples into thinking they were not meant for one another.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. Couples can implement a plan that will keep them from fighting over money. You can live in harmony together. Getting on the same financial page with your significant other should be a top priority if you desire to have financial success and create deep bonds of intimacy in your relationship.
Steps to Stop Fighting Over Money
Step #1: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Simply talking remains the critical first step that will lead to less fighting over money. We all love to talk about ourselves and share what’s important to us. So one would think this would come naturally and not be an issue.
Our selfishness often gets in the way in that we believe our opinions are the only ones that matter. This attitude creates tension when the other party does not feel as though their voice is being heard and respected. Consequently, our communication ends up being one-sided and nonproductive.
I experienced this for years in my own relationship with Mrs. Luke1428. She would often share how our expenses were routinely exceeding our monthly income. She was concerned that we were withdrawing money from our savings each month to cover our credit card bill. I did not clue into the feelings of frustration and anxiety that were subtly being expressed, mostly because I didn’t believe it was a problem.
It took some time for me to realize how this was affecting her. She felt insecure because our savings was dwindling each month. She also felt alone because I didn’t seem to be partnering with her to solve the problem. My overspending and lack of involvement was creating an underlying tension that didn’t need to be there.
Our financial life didn’t change until I was convicted of my spending habits and we began to communicate at a deeper level. Those first steps at communication weren’t easy because we each had personal baggage to talk through. But once we decided to work together and achieve oneness with our finances, things began to change for the better.
What helped us in those early stages was focusing our discussions in these three areas:
Values. Values are nothing more than what is important. You may value frugality and financial security. Your spouse may value brand names and living in the moment. Those values are definitely on track to clash with one another if not dealt with. It’s a must to understand and appreciate what drives the other person. The value discussion was our communication starting point as we began to connect and find some common ground.
Goals. Whereas values reveal what a person believes, goals target a specific future outcome. We dream of something to attain, and then put specific and timely steps in place to reach that milestone. When couples have shared financial goals, they work together in harmony, pooling all their physical and emotional resources to achieve them. They are moving hand-in-hand in the same direction.
Feelings. Sharing feelings might be the biggest communication challenge because it forces us to open up and share deep emotions. This creates vulnerability and makes us feel less in control. It’s also complicated because, in general, sharing feelings is more difficult for men than it is for women. Men tend to bottle feelings up, holding them in…and in…and in…until it becomes too much. Then we explode and the result is almost always conflict.
It’s healthy for couples to routinely share that they are scared, confused, hurt, or angry over a financial issue. Be certain to share how you feel, and not be accusatory. Say things like, “I feel ( ) when ( ).” This admission will demonstrate to your partner how certain actions or the financial situation in general is emotionally challenging for you.
Once my wife and I came together about our values, goals and feelings, we were ready to tackle the next steps of the battle – budgeting and planning the future. It was through these next two steps that our financial life began to take on new meaning and our fighting over money became virtually nonexistent.
That will be the topic for part two.
Questions: Are you tired of fighting over money? What communication challenges are you experiencing right now? What’s your advice for handling disagreements about money?
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