Money can be tricky enough when single, put a significant other in the mix and the complexity increases exponentially. Below, our expert, financial coach Christine, is going to walk us through how to get you and your significant other on the same page when it comes to financial planning.
This is such a good question!
I want to start by saying, “I understand this stress so deeply.” This was exactly my first husband and me. I just wanted some control over our finances and he didn’t feel the need to talk about it at all. Knowing that so many marriages end in divorce, I made an appointment with a psychologist for us. His advice was to put a budget together and stick to it. That’s all. That never happened.
This story is the reason that I became a Financial Counsellor and Coach. So that I can help couples, like you, get on the same page. Here’s my advice:
First of all, there are many reasons that your husband might avoid financial planning. It’s important to understand his mindset so that you can meet him where he’s at and empathize with what he’s feeling. It might be his money personality. It might be how he was raised. Or, it might be a feeling of shame. It also may very well be some combination of all of these.
I look at how we deal with money as nature vs nurture. Your money personality is how you were born, the nature side. We also have thoughts about money that come from our experiences. These scripts can be conscious or subconscious and come from the nurture side of the equation. Shame could be related to our Money Scripts® but I think it’s important enough to discuss it separately.
Understanding each other’s money mindsets can be much more helpful for getting on the same page with financial planning than the advice I was given. Let’s take a look.
The money personality toolset was developed by Taylor and Megan Kovar. A long-term couple and founders of Kovar Capital, a wealth management company. There are 5 money personalities and everyone has two of them. None is better than another. They all have strengths and weaknesses.
- The Spender: Gets a rush out of spending
- The Saver: Gets a rush out of saving
- The Security Seeker: Likes to have a plan
- The Risk Taker: Gets excited about possibility
- The Flyer: Are happy not to think about money
You can find out your money personality by taking this QUIZ. Get your husband to take the quiz too.
It’s possible your husband is a flyer and just doesn’t think about the money aspect of decisions and doesn’t really want to. Flyers don’t stress about money and don’t really have an emotional response to it.
Your money personality is part of your DNA. You can even see your kid’s money personalities in how they handle their Halloween candy!
Knowing your money personality can help you and your husband to:
- Feel validated in who you are
- Give you an understanding of each other
- Stretch you to work outside of your natural state
Money psychologist, Brad Klontz, noticed that over time people developed thought patterns around money. He called these patterns Money Scripts®.
A huge portion of how we deal with our finances as adults have to do with how our experiences and upbringing have created our beliefs about money. A lot of these beliefs are subconscious. There are many different scripts that could be running in your husband’s brain. Without him even knowing, they could be causing him to avoid his finances. Things like:
- Rich people are greedy
- There is more virtue in being poor
- Money is bad
- I don’t deserve money
Scripts like these can develop from events like your parents fighting about money. Or maybe you had a rich uncle that your parents talked poorly about. Believing these things can lead to overspending, giving too much money away and, simply trying not to think about money.
Here are some steps that your husband could take to help him figure out what money scripts might be driving his actions (or inactions):
- Take the money scripts quiz
- Reflect on what your parents taught you about money. Ideally, journal about these things.
Once you have an understanding of what beliefs might be driving your actions, write down your strongest money beliefs and reflect on these questions:
- Have these beliefs benefited you or caused you to make poor financial decisions?
- When are these beliefs true and when are they not true?
- What is a more constructive belief to have?
Changing deeply embedded beliefs can take time. Awareness and reflection are the first steps.
Money can create a lot of shame. Shame is different from guilt. Guilt says that I did something wrong. Shame says that I am something wrong. Unfortunately, the common misconception about money is that you should just know how to manage it. It seems like everyone else is managing their money just fine. The truth is that they’re probably not and that knowing how to manage your money is not something you are born with. The problem with shame is that it causes you to avoid what you are feeling shame about. This creates more shame and continues the shame cycle.
The antidote to shame is empathy. When you talk about your shame with an empathetic ear, you release the power that it has over you and can start to overcome it.
Never shame your husband for lacking financial knowledge. Work together to learn what you need to know.
Here are a few further tips that can help you and your husband to work together on your financial future:
It is really hard to get excited about managing your money if you don’t have a reason for it to get your emotions firing. You need to know why you want to manage your money better. Even if you don’t have the same dreams, do what you can to encourage each other’s dreams and work towards both of your dreams.
Don’t Criticize Or Blame
Don’t criticize someone’s money personality. It hurts when we are criticized for how we handle money because our money personality is part of who we are.
Blaming is a missed opportunity for empathy and connection and may cause further withdrawal.
Don’t nag. Research shows that you need a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions to have a healthy marriage. Don’t try to control your partner.
Ask For Help
It can be really hard to work through these things on your own. Having a neutral third party to talk you through these things and give you advice can be so helpful. Find a financial planner or counsellor that specializes in couples and money psychology.
Leave blaming and shaming behind. Come at your financial planning differences with curiosity instead. When you do that, money can actually be the catalyst for creating a more intimate relationship. Lead the change instead of reacting to the behaviour. Understanding each other is the first step to getting on the same page when it comes to anything including financial planning.
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