GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: ELIZABETH DAVIS, USU EXTENSION ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Money affects every facet of our lives, particularly our relationship with our partner. Marriage.com lists financial stress as the No. 2 reason for divorce among couples. If you and your spouse don’t have positive communication around money, it can lead to disagreements, fighting, and significant problems.
In order to prevent financial stress from damaging your relationship, it is important to talk about money with your partner in a positive way. Do not wait until there is a problem (unanticipated bill, unbalanced budget, or overspending). There are numerous courses, apps, and money management tools that can assist us in the managing of our money (Check out the PowerPay Money Mastery Online Course!), but how can we learn about how we (and our spouse) feel about money?
Fortunately, there is Money Habitudes, which is a game-like tool that helps people understand and talk about their finances in a fun, constructive way. It is an activity that helps you identify your primary money habitudes (attitudes and habits). For you does money equal security? Status? Ability to give to charity? Does it make you feel spontaneous? Carefree? Or do you love to plan how your money is used and have specific financial goals you are pursuing? Use the Money Habitudes activity and find out! There are two versions, you can buy the physical cards or there is an online version as well.
The Habitudes takes a strengths-based approach that helps us identify our own money beliefs, strengths, and also gives specific suggestions on ways to address areas of weakness.
Understanding our own and our partners money motivations enables us to talk about money constructively and also to plan to use money to meet everyone’s needs.
As you prepare to learn more about you (and your partners) money habitudes, follow the advice of relationship expert John Gottman who advises that when engaging in a serious conversation with our spouse, be intentional about how we begin the conversation because “94% of the time, the way a discussion starts determines the way it will end.”
Here are two suggestions based on research that can help us be intentional in addressing hard topics (such as money) with our spouse:
These tools, combined with your effort, can assist you in having a happy marriage and successfully manage your finances.
The Gottman Institute: https://www.gottman.com/blog/softening-startup/
Research-based Relationship Education: www.relationships.usu.edu
Book by John Gottman and Nan Silver titled The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
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