Oct 10, 2007

Discussing your finances with your spouse (instead of fighting)

The September issue of American Baby had an article called "Why You Fight Over Finances," which discussed several different causes of money fights (and stereotypes financial roles, e.g., assuming that the woman "love[s] buying baby things" and the man gets upset about "another $10" - but that's a post for another day).

The gist of the article can be boiled down to one simple, universal solution: Be honest with your partner about what's really bothering you. Are you worried about the future - like paying for college? Are you having trouble adjusting to the fact that you (or your spouse) is no longer bringing home a paycheck? Do you still agree on your financial priorities?

Recommending honest discussions is a lot easier said than done, of course. Before you get into another fight, take the initiative and apologize for making your partner feel bad, emphasize that you want to resolve your financial disagreements, and agree to have a respectful discussion about the family finances. Agree in advance that if things start getting heated again, either one of you can utter a code word (timeout, stormtrooper, or whatever works) and you'll resume the discussion when you've calmed down again. If you can discuss the issues with respect for each other, no matter how long it takes, then your marriage has a good chance of coming out stronger instead of weaker.

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