4 tips for creating a successful financial partnership
By Pamela Yellen
Do you remember the first time you got naked with your beloved? If you’re like most of us, you were probably a bit self-conscious. But because you overcame those feelings and let yourself get naked – well, I don’t need to remind you what happened next!
It’s the same way with your finances: When you allow yourself to get financially naked with your partner, amazing things can happen. Unfortunately for many couples, discussing money issues is like lighting a match to see if your gas tank is empty!
It doesn’t have to be that way. These four tips will keep your money discussions positive and productive:
Recognize that money is an emotional issue – For many men who are wired to be providers, money brings up issues of self-worth, so they take financial conflict to heart. For many women, money represents security, so problems or disputes can bring anxiety and even fear about survival.
Tip Choose a time when you’re both relaxed and not rushed. Begin the conversation with something like, “I know that our finances can have a great impact on the health of our relationship. I’d like to start talking about money so that we understand each other and can get on the same page.”
Discuss basic attitudes
– Some of us are natural savers and planners. Others have a “live for today” attitude. Some are comfortable with debt; others pay with cash only. Money means power to some, love to others.
Tip Seek to understand rather than correct each other. If something in your partner’s attitude bothers you, tell him how you feel and why. See if you can find compromise, but don’t try to “fix” your partner.
Come clean about money past and present – If you have past (or current) money skeletons in the closet, bring them out without over-dramatizing them. Hiding income, assets or debt from your partner now will only cause bigger problems down the road.
Tip ‘Fess up. As uncomfortable as it might be now, revealing whatever you’re hiding will be much less traumatic than being caught later!
Get detailed about family issues – Family issues can spark intense conflict, especially with blended and extended families. If you have children from prior marriages, talk about how you’ll handle your estates. Who will be responsible for wedding costs, college, orthodontia bills? What happens if your adult children want to move home for a while? Are your parents well set for the future? From loaning money to siblings to caring for aging parents, you and your partner need to get on the same page.
Tip Tread gently! Family brings up all kinds of loyalty, defensiveness, and expectation. Compromise is the name of the game.
When you get and stay financially naked together, you’ll work better as a team to tackle your problems and achieve your goals. It’s one of the most positive things you can do to ensure a “happily ever after.”