Money and marriage: How to have the dreaded money conversation

Written by on 15th Sep 2020

How we handle and manage money gets cemented at a very young age, says Absa Money Wellness expert Mapalo Makhu, and every person has a distinct way of thinking about and dealing with their finances.

“In a relationship, those distinctions can be the difference between being on the same page about your household finances or having money be a constant source of conflict.”

In relationships, money is consistently the number one thing that couples fight about.

The problem with money, however, is that it the arguments are never really actually about money. Makhu says “we often use money as a stand-in for deeper issues we do not want to discuss. We argue about the expensive new leather jacket, when what we are feeling actually may go much deeper”.

Having a relationship where you can speak openly about money is very important, but it is not that easy!

So how do you talk to your partner that elephant in the room when it comes to money?

Here are some tips from Makhu to help you with that dreaded money conversation.

  1. Get into the habit of talking about money on a regular basis, not just when there is a crisis. Make it at a regular time and place that is always in your diary.
  2. Find a place where you meet which is your “money” place. It must not be in your home but somewhere neutral, like a coffee shop. Get comfortable with your laptops and spreadsheets and find comfort in coffee and muffins – although sometimes a stiff drink would be more appropriate!
  3. At your monthly meeting discuss the monthly budget and discuss your financial goals and how you will reach them. This is also the place to discuss money issues – like overspending on a credit card, for example.
  4. Decide how you will split your combined household expenses. Talking about this helps eliminate expectations that might end up causing fights about money.
  5. Have a “to discuss” box in the house where you can put notes on what you want to discuss. Leave your money issues for your monthly appointment.
  6. When talking about money, you also need to have a “no shame no blame rule”. Your partner will not want to talk about money if they feel “blamed”. Discuss the problem and find a way to resolve it together.

It is critical to just communicate. Talk about your expectations and discuss things like credit score and know where you both are financially.

Don’t miss the Absa Money Wellness conversation, every Monday just after 5pm on #TheBestDrive.

 


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