You may have a detailed budget and a thorough understanding of how to use an income tax calculator. However, these skills and tools may prove useless when you bring the topic of money up with your partner. It is such an emotive topic that things can quickly get tense, awkward, and even a bit shouty.
The good news is that there are steps you can take to calm things down and pave the way to clear communication about this challenging talking point. The tips below should help:
Be proactive but not aggressive
Sometimes, we come into a conversation loaded and ready to point the finger. On the topic of finances, that may mean you come to the table with challenging questions and an accusative tone, leaving your partner feeling pressured and stressed.
Even if your partner has been careless with money, keeping calm is crucial. However, that doesn’t mean you should be assertive. To ensure your approach is proactive but not aggressive, do some research so you can offer solutions rather than accusations. Show your partner that you’re willing to be proactive and do whatever is needed to work out the finer details of your finances together.
Choose your timing
About 55% of Americans say they feel stressed during the day. So, if you approach your loved one with a stressful topic like finances, you may not get a good response. The same goes for raising the issue when you’re both rushed or when you’re in a public or noisy environment. Pick a moment when things are calm and equipped with plenty of space and time to talk things through privately. Better still, approach the topic when you have easy access to the resources you need to back up your points and develop a strategy together.
You must check in with your partner before you start talking about finances. One in five Americans struggles with mental health conditions like anxiety or depression. By checking in, you can avoid overloading them at an inopportune time. Remember that your mental and emotional health must always come first.
Challenging financial situations make it easy to get stressed and upset. The average American is about $90,000 in debt, so discussing bills, unexpected costs, and other highly stressful topics can cause an instant escalation in anxiety. A solution-based approach is critical here as it ensures you and your partner never feel like the situation is hopeless.
Don’t play blame games
This difficult conversion about finances does not have to be full of accusations. When emotions are high, it is easy to point the finger at each other, bringing up every mistake the other person has made to save yourself from shouldering any blame.
To ensure the conversation is productive, communicate openly and without defensiveness. The more you approach this as a team, the easier it will be to find solutions to your problems.
Don’t be afraid to park the conversation
If you notice either of you devolving into nastiness or pettiness, it may be time to take a breather. The fact that you have started the conversation is brilliant, but if you don’t have a lot of time or things are getting heated, it will help your finances and relationship more if you park the conversion and pick it up again when things have cooled down.
With the tips above, you should be able to chat about finances with your partner without any stress, anger, or emotional pain. Hopefully, a fruitful financial chat will help you both improve your positions individually and as a couple.
Tim Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.