3 Tips for Talking Money With a Spouse

While everyone loves money, talking about it always seems complicated and frustrating, especially communicating with a spouse. While the perception is married couples, particularly retired couples, have the kinks worked out in their relationships, that is not always the case. The truth is while a marriage is a partnership, each spouse comes into the relationship as their own responsible individual. Most of that individuality around finances can persist throughout working life, but retirement means a whole other level of commitment and dependence.

For couples who manage to avoid financial conversations until retirement, the topic can seem taboo, but it is critical to a monetary future. The question becomes how to broach such conversations without alienating either party. There are three rules for having successful conversations about money.

1. Communicate Often

If there is one thing married retirees know, it is the importance of communication. While discussions about money may have faded into the background because of children and other life choices, you can no longer avoid fiscal conversations because neither spouse is working.

Instead of catering to avoidance and blissful ignorance, embrace the challenge and small level of discomfort. Your relationship will be stronger for open communication, and you will both appreciate the transparency.

2. Understand Your Spouses Perspective

When talking, you must keep an open mind and avoid judgment. People are often sensitive about their financial choices, and criticism can feel like a direct insult to their intelligence and self-worth.

Instead of being critical about your spouse's money choices, try to understand the motivation behind the decision. For example, your spouse may enjoy splurging because that is how their family showed love or support. Or, they may not like spending money because their family struggled financially, making them addicted to having significant savings and trying to avoid the struggles they experienced as a child.

By listening to the motivation behind a spouse's spending or saving behavior, you can understand them better, strengthening your relationship. Also, knowing how they feel means that you can both try to be accommodating for each other's feelings and needs.

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3. Never Hide Money Issues

A significant issue many married couples face is one spouse having more financial control than the other. Too many couples believe that having one person in charge of finances is the best way to avoid conflict, but that is not always true. When one spouse holds such control, it can lead to resentment and dishonesty.

A typical result of one person dealing with money is lying about money problems. Perhaps you want to protect your spouse from anxiety or stress, so you fib about your portfolio or savings. While such lies may seem insignificant and necessary, as lies often do, they result in trust issues and animosity. Never lie about money. Instead, hold household meetings to address any concerns and provide an accurate picture of your fiscal state.

While talking about money can feel uncomfortable initially, you will be stronger as a couple for it. The more you communicate about finances, the easier the conversations will become. If you want more advice on finances, retirement or just life, keep reading the Wise Ol' Crow.

Norma Orozco - November 18, 2020

Good smart information when you have a reasonable partner who is open to understand the communication of finances. Unfortunately, I moved in with my ex after 13 years of being divorced to so-call help each other out. As if last year I was basically forced to retire earlier than expected and now I have 3x’s less money than I had. Now my ex is fed up with me not being able to give him 1/2 of all the household bills (his house) as I use to and is pushing me out. What part of being forced to retirement (64 at the time) and not having the same money as before that he didn’t get, I don’t know. But I wish now this was a conversation that was had and acknowledged. ☹️

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