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In Part One of this article, I talked about some of the very real, and very serious, problems that I had when it came to talking about money in my own relationship. I also gave you the ground rules that my husband and I agreed to use so that we could talk start about money in a transparent, non-judgmental, and open environment.
Here in Part Two, I’d like to tell you about seven techniques that you can use in your own relationship to talk about money, financial goals, spending, and saving for that rainy day in a peaceful, loving, and productive way.
Start with an easy discussion about what is currently working in your financial life – individually and together. Strive to find the common ground. Most financial discussions come about when something isn’t working, and that turns into blaming and arguing. So start with something positive. Ask your partner what they feel is important financially. By gaining a better perspective on their values, you not only gain a more intimate understanding of who they are, but you can honor those values when you communicate. These may not be the same values that you have – it’s important to realize that that’s okay! So long as you are both heard, respected, and validated, acceptance doesn’t have to equal agreement, but it does help you approach the conversation with deeper compassion and unconditional love. The main objective here is re-learning how to communicate with your partner by realizing that you’re on the same team. This involves some letting-go of control and ego – and believe me, that’s always a good thing!
Seek to become an assertive communicator. Share your thoughts and feelings respectfully, and listen to your partner with the same respect. As I’ve pointed out before, you don’t have to agree on everything. But you both need to feel heard and validated. It’s one of the best ways to build an intimate bond of trust.
And speaking of trust – a word here about lying about money and secret spending. If this is you, you already know it. And intuitively, you know that it needs to stop. You will relieve yourself of so much guilt if you reveal your secrets and simply move forward into a new mode of thinking and a new goal of acting financially responsible. And if you have a spending problem, an addiction to buying – please get help, my friend. It is a real disease, and you are not at fault.
Money issues have to be solved if you’re going to have a happy and balanced relationship. Solving those issues means talking about them in detail, and letting go of ego and judgment while you’re in that space (and hopefully, in your entire relationship).
It can be very, very easy to feel defensive and attacked when we discuss spending and finances. Know that this comes more from inside you (internal guilt) than it does from outside of you (your other). Temper your reactivity, and at a separate time when you are alone, examine it to find its roots. That’s a subject for a different post!
Identify goals you both can live with and dreams you wish to work towards. Set up a simple budget together, accounting for the things that you both value. Perhaps it’s retirement, or maybe it’s a trip you’ve been longing to take. You are building a shared life together which means a shared financial future as well. Be open to the realization that some of your purchases or wants are unrealistic if you are to attain your goals. If you are an instant-gratification-lover, learn how to value the longer view. If you are used to saving every penny, learn that an impromptu purchase can be very satisfying and fun. Strive for balance.
Create a budget item that allocates an amount of discretionary spending for both of you. Constantly denying yourself even little pleasures constricts your energy and communicates to the universe that you aren’t worthy of the abundance that is your birthright. You need to splurge on yourself. Even if it’s just a little something. A latte and a pastry at the French café. A dozen roses at the grocery store to place next to your bed. A new lipstick – just because. Living in the truth that there is enough abundance for everyone expands your vibrational frequency and attracts greater money towards you.
More than anything, when you are discussing money with your spouse or partner, approach the conversation with love, understanding, and compassion. Reaching out with love will virtually never result in a bad outcome. We reach out with love in other areas of our lives – finances should be no different.
I think you’ll find that even though these action steps take practice, once you both realize you’re on the same page with many of the same goals, you’ll be well on your way to a stronger, more intimate, more truthful relationship.
Money is not the root of all evil. It’s our attitude towards money that causes all the problems. These techniques will allow you to begin to get to the heart of these negative attitudes and eliminate them. As a result, you and your partner will be able to begin to talk productively about money and finances without conflict and without blame. Imagine being able to discuss updating a budget, increasing the level of your emergency fund, re-allocating money to cover your children’s college education, or increasing savings so you can take a long-dreamed of vacation – all without fighting! This is an achievable goal that will make your relationship, and your finances, healthier and more productive.