People often say that money is the main source of couples’ fights. In fact, the underlying problem can start with money conversations.
Often couples get bogged down in repetitive conversations around money instead of talking about the actual financial issues that bother them.
Here’s a common conversational boondoggle that might start on the following themes and go round and round:
“We should really move to a bigger house/better area.”
“We can’t afford that.”
Another money merry-go-round:
“I think we should invest in Apple stock now, while it’s hot!”
“Why don’t we open 529 plans for the kids instead?”
Here’s how to stop having conversations around money and start talking about it. Stop and ask for directions. Too often we listen as a way of making judgments or issuing criticism. Instead, ask your mate, “Tell me why X is important to you. Help me to understand what you’re thinking.” Listen slowly. Don’t jump to your usual conclusions, as I learned after 15 years of marriage. Be open to having your assumptions challenged. Accept the gap. Are you going to agree 100% on everything? Not a chance. So start by offering a tradeoff: “I’m willing to try X. Could you try doing Y or Z?” Last, try to steer away from the “I win, you lose” perspective. As the saying goes, sometimes “no” right now paves the way for a bigger “yes” down the line.
Open for discussion. How do money talks happen in your house? Carl Richards, aka “the napkin guy”, and father to three daughters and one son, is renowned for his weekly sketches on the NY Times Bucks Blog and is now a DailyWorth contributor.