Money represents one of the essential conversations you need to have with a potential life partner.
However, not everyone is comfortable talking about money. Your S.O. might not be, either.
No matter how much s/he might try to avoid the subject, though, it’s important to get on top of the situation. You need to talk money with someone who’s going to be such a huge part of your life.
Why you need to talk money
Money is a huge part of life. We don’t like to think about it in those terms, but the reality is that it’s a necessity. You and your partner need to be on the same page when it comes to money.
Your money situation impacts all areas of your life. Money is a cause of stress and, the American Psychological Association notes, can also affect your relationships.
You need to make financial decisions with your partner, and that means you need to talk money. It might seem just fine that one of you takes care of most of the money issues without conversations, but it’s really not.
In my marriage, my ex didn’t want anything to do with the budget or finances — even when I asked him to participate.
This was stressful, we didn’t really have the same priorities, and it didn’t help that he didn’t know our situation and I felt like I was always trying to make things work.
If you want to be successful with your finances and in your partnership, you need to talk money, at least a couple times a month. Even if you keep your finances separate, touching base is a good idea. You need to be aware of problems that can cause you problems down the road.
Why doesn’t your partner want to talk money?
Your first step is to figure out why your partner isn’t interested in talking about money with you.
This can be a touchy situation because money is so related to our emotions and our view of ourselves. It’s important to approach it with tact and realize that your partner might be reluctant due to:
- Embarrassment: Something in your partner’s money situation might cause some embarrassment. They might not want to disclose past mistakes and/or current debt.
- Trust issues: Depending on where you’re at in your relationship, your partner might not be ready to talk about money with you. You don’t need to exchange bank account information or anything like that. But you should start, generally, with what matters to each of you.
- Your attitude: One of the things I learned about myself during a relationship is that sometimes I come across as a perfectionist with high standards. Also, I used to be really judgy. I had to learn to be more accepting before my partners could disclose things to me.
Figure out why your S.O. is reluctant and try to go from there.
How to start talking about money with your S.O.
No matter the situation, it can be difficult to figure out how to start the conversation. After all, you might not agree about money, and resolving those differences can be daunting.
In some cases, you can glean information about your partner’s money habits by paying attention to the way they use money.
You can use such things as a touchpoint. If they spend a lot on something, you can probe a little. “Hey, do you like X? I notice that you have a lot.”
At some point, though, you might need to just suck it up and ask. Let your partner know that you think things are moving along enough that you are ready to talk money.
Plan a time where you can sit down and talk about finances. It should be a time when you have both had a little time to relax, and when you aren’t hungry. These talks go so much better when you aren’t distracted and when you don’t start off grumpy.
If you are already together, and your partner doesn’t like to talk money, try and frame at something that is good for you both. Start out by saying how important it is that you are a team, and that you want his/her input.
When you can approach it in a way that shows your partner that you value his/her opinion, s/he is more likely to respond positively.
Try to make it a regular occurrence, where you set up a time each week or each month to review something. Base the frequency of a budget review on what your partner is willing to do at first. As you make it a habit, your partner is likely to take a greater interest.
What happens when nothing works?
In some cases, there is just no convincing a partner to talk money with you. If this is the case, you just need to do your best. Look for ways to be real about money and even to protect yourself.
If you haven’t combined your finances, consider staying away from the big pot if your partner isn’t willing to talk money.
When you already have combined finances, but you are doing everything with the money management, try to draw your partner into conversations in non-confrontational ways, and consider making contingency plans that protect your finances.
In the end, your best bet is to start talking about money before you seriously commit to a partner. You’ll be better able to figure out how to move forward.