One of the biggest decisions couples make is merging their finances. Many couples do not recognize the emotion implications of co-mingling their assets, but decisions about money are strongly tied to our value system. In Part 1 of this series, we explored the questions couples should ask themselves and their partners prior to making decisions about how to combine their money. We will now explore how to communicate about differences of opinion and make decisions about the best approach to the joint account.
According to a 2011 Utah State University study, couples who disagreed about money once a week were twice as likely to divorce than those who argued about money less than once a month. Communication is key in minimizing the potential for conflict around money and financial decisions.
How To Communicate With Your Partner
- Try to understand the other person’s perspective: Empathy breeds empathy. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes in an attempt to understand their position. Most individuals I work with share that really what they want is to be heard. The perspectives may be different, but if you can try to hear your partner’s view, you may see significant improvement in your communication.
- Be Transparent: One of the biggest mistakes couples make is committing “financial infidelity.” One or both people make financial decisions that they keep secret from the other, which decreases trust and general satisfaction in the relationship. Share your decisions with your partner to help both you and your partner have a better sense of your spending habits.
- Share your fears: A large part of communication issues stem from how the information is communicated, which is often a result of a larger fear or anxiety at the very root. Share your fears about money or about communicating about money so that your partner can understand you better and work to help you minimize those fears.
Taking the Next Steps…
When you develop a healthy communication style with your partner, it will be significantly easier to make decisions about money. Once you have completed the exercise in Part 1 of this series to better understand your own relationship with money, and you are working towards improved communication with your partner, you can more effectively determine how to combine your finances. Will you maintain your own account and have a joint account for shared expenses? Will you combine all of your income in one account? It is important to not only know yourself but to understand your partner prior to making this decision. There is absolutely no right or wrong decision, but both of you should be comfortable with the decision.
If you would like more information about how I can help you either individually or in a couples session manage your relationship with money or your communication about finances, please feel free to contact me for a free 15-minute consultation at 312-729-5089.