My husband and I have been married about four years now and we have accrued some debt. It seems like whenever I speak with my husband about our spending and paying down our debts, we have a fight. He asserts that I am spending too much, while I assert that he is a loose cannon with money. How do we get to be on the same page so that we stop fighting over this issue?
Couples fight most about the same two things — money and sex. Fights about sex are usually based in your fear of not being good enough, loved or accepted. Fights about money are usually based in the fear of loss (the fear of losing money and losing control over whatever money represents for you) or a fear of failure.
In order to change the way you communicate about money, you must get clear about your fears. Why do discussions about money trigger fear in each of you?
Figure the answers to these questions first:
What does money represent to you?
And what does it represent to your spouse?
Here are some possibilities:
Remember, when you were single you had total control over all financial decisions. Now that you’re married, you have lost some of that control. This could be a large part of the problem because this loss of control could lead to disastrous failure. Together as a team you must create some rules that will lessen your fears.
Make a few rules that calm your own fears, and a few rules that make your spouse feel better. Here are some ideas that might help:
Never fight about money in the moment when your fear is first triggered. Make it your policy to always step back, go through the questions above and get clarity before talking about money with your spouse.
Listen to and validate each other’s feelings. Having mutually validating conversations is the key to a good marriage. Honor and respect your spouse’s right to see the situation the way they see it. Respectfully ask permission to share your feelings and then do so in a kind, loving way. Use “I” statements more than “you” statements and focus more on future behavior than past behavior. Create compromises that put both your fears to rest.
Set rules and limits you are both comfortable with. Create a budget and honor it. Make rules about how much you will spend per week on small things. Agree that on purchases (over a certain amount) you will talk to each other first. Rules like these make everyone feel safer.
Keep the rules — this is the most important way you can honor your commitment to your spouse. You cannot have love without trust.
Be honest. Never lie to your spouse. It’s better to tell them what they won’t want to hear than to lie and destroy the trust in your relationship.
Make a plan to get out of debt and start saving. This creates peace of mind and lessens fear in everyone.
Remember, fear is the real problem here. Figuring out what money represents to each of you, and what you are afraid of, will bring clarity about what rules need to happen in your home.
You should also choose a mindset of wisdom and trust. Make wise decisions and then trust that everything will be okay. Trust and optimism make life a lot more enjoyable.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the founder and president of ldslifecoaching.com and claritypointcoaching.com. She is a life coach and speaker who specializes in repairing and building self-esteem.
FOR MORE FREE
Coaching is less expensive than you think - If you need help we can find you a coach you can afford.
Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.