Ever wanted an ex-spouse? Wait, don’t answer that. Have you ever wanted to increase the chances of not having a spouse anymore? Err, I mean do you want to help prevent future marital chaos? There we go, much better. Well, do you? Then pay attention to this very simple phrase: if you don’t trust your spouse with money, then you don’t trust your spouse.
Don’t freak out though and reach for your iPod to fire up Boys II Men’s “End of the Road” (the perfect break up/death song). There is still hope for your relationship. In fact, if you can recover from your financial trust issues, then your relationship will be even stronger for it. Trust is earned through effort and opportunity. Therefore, if you make financial trust a focus of your relationship, then you can really help your relationship out. But that involves giving your partner an opportunity to earn your trust back.
Here are a few simple tips to get your relationship headed in the right direction.
1. Don’t ever have a spontaneous money conversation. They are pointless. There is no possible way for a spontaneous conversation about money to turn out positive. That’s because “the other person” is rarely prepared to have the conversation, and will react like a badger stuck in a shoebox (I have no idea what that means, but the image made me laugh – so deal with it). Instead, ask to have a planned money discussion a few days out. That way everyone can “get their mind right” (as my football coach used to say). Use this budget guide to help guide the conversation.
2. Gender roles are archaic and have no place in a financial conversation. “I’ll worry about the money, and you worry about getting my Salisbury Steak on the table in the next 15 minutes.” See how ridiculous that is? Many couples have financial issues simply because men think that they are in the 1950s still. Although the midday scotch seems like a good idea when watching Mad Men, it isn’t. And neither is “calling the shots” because you have a hairy back.
3. Offer an olive branch. Nobody is financially perfect. And even if you are the person that is “good with money” (a ridiculous premise by the way), it is still likely that you do something that annoys the hell out of your partner when it comes to money. During your planned money conversation, bring up your annoying habit, and demonstrate your willingness to work on it.
4. Paychecks don’t equal weighted voting. Who cares how much money you and your partner make? Really, who cares? And if one of you cares a great deal about this, then chances are that you have some challenges. There are two money votes in a relationship, and they are equally weighted. The most common problem that I see on a regular basis involves a dude getting bent out of shape because his lady friend makes more than him. Get over it, pal. You both still get equal votes.
Do you have any tips that help your money communication? I’d love to hear them.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.