No matter what kind of relationship you’re in, communication is important. We communicate to express our feelings, desires, needs, and more. It is the lifeline of relationships. This means that if relationship communication problems go unaddressed, your relationship could be at risk.
In general, communication can be difficult, but talking about money in relationships may seem downright impossible! That’s why it should come as no surprise that money is among the most common reasons that couples argue.
Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be your case. If you’re able to master the art of communicating about finances with your partner, you’ll likely save yourself from unnecessary relationship communication problems.
How relationship communication problems impact your finances
Communication problems in relationships can impact your finances in two ways. First, failure to communicate means that you’re neglecting the one thing that impacts every aspect of your life. If you don’t talk about money, it can affect other areas of your life and relationship.
Secondly, not communicating effectively can lead to misunderstandings about how to manage your money. For example, not communicating expectations around spending practices can lead to excessive spending and debt accumulation.
So not only is it important to talk about money, but you must do so in a productive way.
How to avoid financial communication problems in relationships
Here’s how you can avoid financial communication issues in your relationship.
Don’t be afraid to talk about money
A common issue when it comes to communicating in relationships is flat-out avoiding hard conversations. It’s human nature to avoid conflict, but there are some issues that we just have to face. Avoiding money conversations won’t solve anything. In fact, it will do much more harm than good.
The key is not trying to tackle everything at once. Simply start with small conversations about the financial goals you have and even share what you were taught about handling money growing up. Asking your partner money questions are a great way to prompt the conversation.
Doing this allows you to learn more about your partner’s money story and vice versa. This will be the foundation for determining how to create shared goals.
Schedule a time to go over finances
The best way to combat not talking about money is to create a system to talk about it. You can do this by scheduling a recurring “money meeting.”
Put a day and time on the calendar to talk about your money—what’s working and what’s not. This will allow you to keep track of progress and address any issues immediately. The goal of these conversations is to provide updates, share ideas, and work through any roadblocks.
This should also be the time when you go over your budget to review upcoming expenses. Budgeting together ensures that you both are on the same page when it comes to where your money goes.
Be honest with yourself and each other
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “honesty is the best policy.” If you want to have good communication about financial matters, you have to be honest.
Be honest with your partner about your past mistakes and how you’ve grown from them. Not disclosing or actively hiding information about your financial past and present is considered financial infidelity. This can really breach trust within your relationship and ultimately, end it.
Own up to your past mistakes and work together to build a better financial future. If, by chance, you have a “perfect” financial past, avoid being judgmental of your partner. Show compassion and create an open environment where they can be honest.
Address issues when they arise
A good rule of thumb when it comes to relationships is to not let issues fester. Instead, you should take the time to discuss them so that you can avoid the issue reoccurring. Remember, your partner isn’t a mind reader. That means that you’ll have to actually share what’s on your mind in order to fix the issue.
Of course, you want to be sure that you’re bringing things up at the appropriate time. If you’re angry, take a moment to gather your emotions so that you can effectively communicate your thoughts.
When you do share something that is bothering you, it’s a good practice to only talk about how it made you feel. For example, “When you bought this without telling me, it made me feel like my opinion isn’t valued.”
This makes your partner more receptive to learning how they can correct their actions to not make you feel that way again.
Listen to your partner’s ideas
There is no one right way to manage money, so be open to hearing other viewpoints. Encourage your partner to share their ideas about how to manage money as a couple. This will enable you to find an approach that you can both agree to and avoid communication issues.
Again, there is no one right way to manage money. Personal finances are personal and unique to your situation. Be prepared to compromise for the good of your relationship.
Remember that you’re a team
Simply remembering that you and your partner are a team can completely change the way you communicate. Team members understand that the objective is to win together. This doesn’t mean that there is no accountability or disagreements. It just means that you’ll focus on more productive conversations.
When you have a difference of opinion around money, it’s important to realize that it’s not always about being right. Have a team mentality that’ll set aside pride for the betterment of the relationship.
Seek to understand
One of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is, “Seek first to understand, then be understood.” In essence, you should work to understand the other person’s perspective and needs.
This approach to communicating is less about getting your point across and more about truly listening. Listening for understanding helps you to communicate with empathy and grace.
Final thoughts on relationship communication problems
At the core of a great relationship is great communication. When you learn to communicate better, your relationship and finances can get better. Take the time to try each of the communication tips with your partner. Even mastering one can make a world of difference!