6 Tips for Talking Money With Your Spouse

6 Tips for Talking Money With Your Spouse

Experts discuss smart strategies for married couples to communicate about money.

By: Maressa Brown

Discussing personal finances can be stressful -- no matter who you’re talking to. But when you’re talking about money with your spouse, the conversation can easily get emotional. No wonder you might shy away from talking about your checking and savings altogether!

But it’s definitely something we need to talk about with our spouses, notes Jeanette Raymond, PhD, author of Now You Want Me, Now You Don’t! It's important that financial issues become a regular part of the dialogue for couples,” says Raymond. “Too often they only discuss it when there is a crisis or a big disagreement.”

Thankfully, you can avoid that trap by trying these six expert tips for talking about money with your husband.

1. Get in sync. “Both have to be willing to share their financial values, needs, expectations, and spending habits,” explains Raymond. The best way to do that? Sit down together to create a Financial Bucket List, suggest money management and frugal living experts Lauren and Mark Greutman of MarkandLaurenG.com. “This is a list of goals you want to achieve with your money -- both short term and long term,” says Lauren Greutman. “This gets you on the same page, and then communication becomes much easier.”

2. Make it clear you respect each other’s needs. It’s crucial that a couple “both know and respect each other’s needs,” explains Raymond.For example, if one person feels it's a necessity to buy lunch out every day, but the other thinks it’s a waste of money because it’s cheaper to brown bag it, then you have a deep rift in personal values and sense of identity,” she says. “Fights around ‘I’ versus ‘you’ erupt, removing any possibility of ‘we.’”

The solution: Discuss what personal expenses you and your mate absolutely can’t compromise on. “This gives room for the ‘I’ parts, so that there is now a reduction in accusations of selfishness or sacrifice,” says Raymond. “Then, the 'we' bits have room to form and grow.”

3. Skip certain phrases and words. In addition to shooting for more “we” talk than use of “I” and “you,” it’s a good idea to avoid certain phrases that are accusations or absolutes. “Avoid phrases like, ‘You made me do it,’ or ‘always,’ ‘never,’” says Greutman. “These will make the other person want to defend themselves immediately.”

4. Open up. When we’re communicating about money, we’re often talking (or arguing) about issues that have to do with a lot more than our finances. “Money is often the battleground for expressing safety and security in the marriage,” says Raymond. “So, one of the most useful things couples can do is to share their fears about what they anticipate if their partner spends too much or prevents them from doing so.”

Venting your concerns makes it easier for you to see each other’s points of view. It can also serve as a reality check, notes Raymond.


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5. Keep certain topics off-limits. There may be certain subjects, usually related to past money matters, that don’t necessarily need to be discussed, says Greutman. “Your spouse may not be willing or able to discuss certain topics concerning money,” she notes. “For example, debt carried from a past relationship, or having to pay huge school loans while not using that college degree. Discussing these issues will generally never lead to a fruitful outcome. Sometimes, it’s best to allow the past to be the past.” Better instead to focus on how you plan to work together on current and future money matters going forward.

6. Take time together to tend to details. Setting a “date night” to talk about spending, saving, and budgeting may not sound particularly romantic, but it can do wonders for overall communication about your finances with your spouse. “Discussing financial issues with full transparency needs to be an activity that both attend to on a week-to-week or month-to-month basis,” advises Raymond.

What’s one strategy you and your spouse have been able to implement to have more productive talks about money matters?

Maressa Brown is a senior staff writer for The Stir. She loves writing about and reading up on health/fitness, relationships, and pop culture -- preferably on a beach somewhere.

Image ©iStock.com/Maica

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