Are You Waiting for Your Partner to Change?
Trying to convince yourself to change is hard enough, but when you’re in a relationship with someone who won’t talk about money it can be exponentially more difficult to build wealth. You can’t keep hoping they’ll come around; you have to stop waiting for your partner to change.
It’s like standing at a crosswalk waiting for the other guy to push the walk button. If they don’t, you’re stuck standing there…waiting.
Image Credit: HeathBrandon on Flickr
People who are in a relationship with someone who is disinterested in money or unwilling to discuss the subject often feel paralyzed and unable to move forward. This post offers some tips on how to push the internal “walk” button and start making progress on building wealth.
First, however, it’s a good idea to figure out how you ended up in this situation.
How did You Get Here?
It’s easy to find yourself in this situation; here’s a likely scenario…
You meet someone and start dating. Openly discussing each other’s points of view on handling money, budgets and growing wealth certainly isn’t a subject for early dating. And, there are no hard and fast rules for when these discussions are to happen.
Bringing up how much debt you have would go over about as well as announcing you have four months to live. Good bye relationship. Conversely, asking your date how much debt they carry or how much in assets they’ve amassed seems a bit nosy and controlling. So, you don’t ask because you don’t want to put off the other person.
Here we are then. We’ve fallen in love and married or moved in together without really understanding if we’re compatible in the area of money. It happens to a lot of us.
Things You Might Discover
Once you find yourself deeper into the relationship, you might observe certain money behaviors that send up red flags or uncover a debt burden that you weren’t aware of. In either case, if you start questioning these things now, you fear you’ll ignite a fight or worse lose the relationship. To avoid conflict, you keep quiet.
The pattern continues until there’s constant tension about the underlying money issues, fights erupt and either the relationship/marriage ultimately ends or one person is tortured by not being able to get out of debt and save.
You’re in it, Now What?
If this sounds familiar and you’re tired of struggling with money in your relationship, here are five actions you might consider:
- Examine your own money behaviors before asking the other person to engage in a conversation with you. We often don’t realize how we contribute to the problem. We sometimes see our spending as necessary while the other person appears to be frivolous. You might be surprised at what you find. Being willing to talk about your own money “ah ha’s!” can break down barriers to communication.
- A lot of couples keep separate accounts but share common expenses such as housing, utilities, etc. Building wealth as a couple means you need some common goals. Start mentioning to your partner that you would like transparency around the family money. You don’t need to co-mingle money but you should both have a clear understanding of income, expenses, savings, investments, retirement balances, etc. If your partner won’t agree or even engage in the conversation, continue to bring it up and be willing to share your world on paper. Modeling the behavior can be powerful.
- Ask your partner to join you in couples counseling. If you don’t get a commitment to go, you should go on your own. If nothing else, you may gain some useful skills to help you communicate better on this subject.
- If only one person handles all the bills and accounting, ask to make it a joint activity. This goes back to the transparency concept.
- Ask your partner to agree to track spending for a couple of months to see how money is being spent. This doesn’t sound as limiting as a budget. Once you know how the money is really being spent you’ll have the information to begin working on a joint plan to pay off debt and save.
The Good, Bad and Ugly
Muster the courage to regularly bring up the subject in a respectful and loving way. If you are met with resistance or even hostility, keep at it. You’ll learn something important—either you’ll break down barriers and begin a deeper more intimate life with your partner or you’ll discover that you are never going to create a financial life together that pleases you both.
The idea of splitting up or divorcing can be terrifying. You have to consider your children if you have small ones, how to survive financially and the emotional toll. All of that can be daunting, but if you choose to stay in a relationship that creates constant stress over money, you’re paying an equally high price—one you’ll keep paying every day for the rest of your life.
Be Brave and Have a Voice
It takes courage to have a voice. It also takes courage to do a personal accounting of our own behaviors. I find that when I honestly look at my own actions and behaviors and try to communicate without judgment or criticism, the outcome is not as bad as I might have feared.
Finally, if any of this resonates with you and you decide to take action, don’t expect overnight transformation. It takes a long time to change a habit and money behaviors are a combination of attitudes and beliefs, habits, fears, upbringing, etc. Be patient with yourself and your partner. Keep learning and keep communicating.
- Have You Ever Started a Journey Without a Destination?
- Saver Vs Spender — Which One Are You?
- Reduce Financial Emergencies With One Simple Strategy
- Part I: Does Your Spending Support Your Values?
- Part II: Does Your Spending Support Your Values?
What Can You Add to the Conversation?
Have you overcome money issues in your relationship? We’d love to hear what you did to resolve them. Are you currently struggling with being able to talk to your partner about finances? Feel free to share your story in the Comments, maybe you’ll find some inspiration to help you through.