Should talking about money be as satisfying as a tumble in the sheets? Actually, even here at HerMoney we hope that’s never the case for your relationship. It is worth noting, however, that talking about money is linked to having a better time in bed.
Research from Honeyfi points to the fact that couples who talk about their financial goals at least once a month are 57% more likely to report having a great sex life than those who don’t.
By talking it through as they went, they were able to come into financial focus together.
Figuring out your personal relationship with money—how it makes you feel, why you make the financial decisions you do, or don’t, and your goals for it—can be challenging enough. Now, try to factor in someone else’s conflicted relationship with it. It’s easy to understand why money is consistently a source of stress for so many couples.
But, says, Jamila Souffrant, creator of the blog and podcast, “Journey To Launch,” it doesn’t have to be. On episode 146 of the HerMoney Podcast, she got candid about how she and her husband increased their savings rate, modified their investments and started managing their accounts together. It didn’t happen overnight.
“I was getting excited about all of the things we could do on this journey [to financial independence]. [But] his journey or his wants are different and the way he came to terms with it were different.” So here’s what she didn’t do: She didn’t bigfoot him into having to conform to her financial methodology or her way of thinking about it. “I didn’t say, ‘OK I found this out and now we need to do this’; it was very important for me to be patient and let him come to it on his own, because the last thing I wanted him to feel was, ‘This is all Jamila’s thing and I’m being lost here.’” Rather she gave him time to parse things out, to reach his own conclusions. And by talking it through as they went, they were able to come into financial focus together.
That’s no small deal. Couples who are aligned on their financial goals are two times as likely to report being extremely happy in their relationships and three-and-a-half times more likely to report feeling very financially secure, according to Honeyfi. If you’re looking to get on the same page financially with your partner, try the following conversation starters and communication strategies. And if it leads to a little more heat between the sheets? Just remember who had your back.
Role-Play Being Therapists
“Money is never just money,” says Dr. Gail Saltz, a psychiatrist and author of “The Power of Different.” “It really does symbolize other things.” And a safe assumption is that it symbolizes different things for you and your SO. You were brought up differently. You had different money conversations growing up (or perhaps no conversations at all), different lessons, different experiences. You’re different. Therefore your first step is to acknowledge this together and discuss these differences. Find a nonstressful time, a place where you both feel safe and comfortable and start asking each other questions. “This is not supposed to be an angry conversation,” explains Saltz. “It’s supposed to be an exploratory conversation.”
Couples who are aligned on their financial goals are two times as likely to report being extremely happy in their relationships and three-and-a-half times more likely to report feeling very financially secure, according to Honeyfi.
So start by looking backward. Talk about how money was handled in your family: How were your mother and father about spending, saving, allowance, financial planning? How did they discuss it?”
Turn To Today and Get Tactical
As you turn toward the present, start incorporating questions on who you are today: How does money make you feel? What are your fears? Your financial goals, short-term and long-term? Your dreams? This also includes what your financial picture looks like today—especially if you two are getting serious (i.e., moving in together and/or getting married).
And then get tactical. “They need to ask: ‘How are we going to run our lives?’” says Dr. Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington. “Part of that is money: What do we owe, own and how much do we earn? In other words, what are each of you bringing to the table?”
Take Turns Mirroring Each Other
To make sure you’re understanding each other, try mirroring, suggests Saltz. Mirroring is a communication strategy in which you repeat back what you heard from the other person and vice versa so you both feel understood. (Pro tip: This can also be used as a calming stop-gap if you sense your partner is getting defensive about something.) Your script: “I want to make sure I’m understanding you correctly. What I’m hearing from you is when I do X, it makes you feel Y. Is that right?” The more empathy you bring to the conversation, the better.
Avoid The Blame Game
When you’re addressing a financial behavior or habit you don’t like about your partner, avoid starting sentences with “you.” That’s playing the blame game and no one will win. For example, instead of saying, “You overspend when you go out with your friends and it’s stressing me out,” try, “I get anxious about money when you go out with your friends, because we tend to go over budget that week.” This approach is less likely to put the person on defense, says Saltz. “It’s [also] good to add in what you see as your partner’s style about money. What do you like about it? What do you not like about it? This also gives you clues as to where compromise may be needed.”
Accept That You Will Need To Compromise
“The idea is not you win or I win—we’re creating a team,” says Schwartz. “It’s not going to be the same as it was when you were single. Once you’re in a partnership, you’re not always going to get your way.” For example, Souffrant’s goal was to retire early from her corporate job. That wasn’t the case for her husband, who loves his day job as a teacher. Instead, one of his goals is to buy a nice car.
“I’m looking at him and saying, ‘OK, so how could we possibly make that a reality,’” says Souffrant. “I’m not crossing that off just because I don’t care about a better or new car. When you take your partner’s wishes, goals and what they want into consideration—so it’s not just about you—it’s helpful. How can you both work toward a family goal, but then separate goals, too?” “The biggest thing I said to him was we can always reverse this if it feels too uncomfortable or scary and we’re not happy and you’re not happy,” says Souffrant. “This can go back—that made him feel comfortable and me feel comfortable.”
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