Finances can be a big trigger for arguments in a marriage, but they don’t have to be! Once you have your values and goals set, you’ll likely have much more productive conversations about your finances, because you can see the bigger picture. As you’ll read in my book, finances have not been easy in our marriage. Getting married at twenty-two meant we started out with basically nothing. But having to be mindful of our financial situation has also taught us a lot about managing money, and even more importantly, how to discuss finances without getting into arguments.
One of the most helpful things I have discovered when discussing finances (aside from learning our money languages, which I cover in the book) is to recognize what triggers we have around the use of finances in our relationship. For example, to me, money represents security for my family. So something that would be triggering to me would be making a large frivolous purchase instead of buying a new piece of furniture we need, or saving for plane tickets to visit home for Christmas. Although my husband doesn’t make purchases like that without discussing it with me, I would sometimes struggle with the desire to make the purchase itself. Like I talked about in the communication post, I can jump to conclusions (that’s not a smart idea!) rather than giving and getting feedback (why do you think we should buy that?). I had to learn to hear my husband out and show that I valued his perspective, even if I disagreed, so that we could come to a decision together.
Figuring out what triggers you in regards to finances is a great step to having more healthy conversations with your spouse. But what’s more important than identifying the words or actions that frustrate you is figuring out why those things are triggering to you. To determine this, ask yourself:
- How was money/finances treated in my family?
- What does money represent to me?
- Why do I spend money?
- Why do I save money?
- What do I want our finances to do for us?
- How can I communicate these things clearly to my spouse?
Once you have some answers to these questions, I encourage you to have a conversation with your spouse about the way you feel about finances and what they mean to you. Tell them in a non-accusatory way what can trigger frustration with finances. Then, ask them to share what finances mean to them and what you can do to mitigate their triggers. I’m not saying you always need to walk on eggshells, but you can be mindful and considerate of things that may be especially troubling for your spouse.
Journal question: What is one thing that triggers you in regards to money, and why?
Additional resource: Discovering Your Partner’s Money Language by Bobbie Salow
Don’t forget, Rhythms of Relationship is available now on Amazon! And the ebook is free to download through January 27th, so make sure you get a copy.