Did you know that financial disagreements for couples are one of the main causes of divorce? They often begin with (shocker here!) lack of communication. What usually happens is this: one party takes over the bills and causes the other party to slip off to the sidelines, where they don’t know what’s going on with the family finances. While this may work at first, it turns sour as the years march on.
The bill-payer begins to resent the fact that he or she is shouldering this burden. But at the same time, he or she is unwilling to communicate because it becomes a matter of pride, or because they think the other party “won’t understand” the obligation. The non-bill-paying spouse can start to feel left out of important decisions, or start to resent the way money is spent. Arguments brew and the couple ends up splitting with hostile feelings on both sides.
That’s why I think it’s so important to discuss financial matters with your spouse on a regular basis. If you don’t deal with these issues as they arise, they can become serious impediments to a fruitful relationship.
You can start with meeting once a week. Structure this meeting like a business lunch (i.e., the two of you can meet after work for a drink, over dinner, etc.).
If you’re dealing with your financial concerns on a weekly basis, it doesn’t blow out of proportion. Instead, it becomes something that’s fun and exciting, because you are working towards trading some type of wealth together and establishing a connection on an emotional and mental level.
What to do at these “meetings”
These couple meetings don’t have to be super long, stressful, or serious. They can be at your favorite bar, during a walk after dinner, or before watching a movie. What’s important is that you use the time to go over your financial goals. Pinpoint where you’re going as a couple (or where you want to go), what you would like to achieve by the end of this year, and so on.
Take not that this should involve discussing specifics, like retirement goals, investment practices, or how you’re going to spend your money on the kids. In other words, have a business strategy that you can both work on together.
A lot of people forget that a relationship is a job, and communication is one of the key elements to keeping that job (and getting a promotion to a happier life). It involves careful planning and just as much consideration as any business move.
When you sit down and discuss finances with each other, you remove the responsibility from one party and distribute it evenly among both. Money no longer becomes a burden, but a shared experience. And in relationships, shared experiences are what ultimately make us feel whole, connected, and happy.