When you can’t get on the same page as your partner about money, it’s really frustrating. You’re doing the best you can, and you just don’t understand why you can’t seem to come together on this!
Before you know it, there’s arguments, tears, yelling, putting up walls, and shutting down.
Money conversations don’t have to be so hard, or they can stay hard for less time. Heck, they may even be able to be easy.
Using Jordan and Alexa as an example, you’ll learn 5 common mistakes couples make when talking about money.
The disagreement – Alexa and Jordan got some money back from their tax return this year. Alexa starts excitedly talking about buying this patio furniture she’s had her eye on. Jordan freezes up a bit and says that he’s not so sure.
Mistake #1: Having money conversations at the wrong time.
Jordan’s response hits a nerve with Alexa, and she sees red. She starts yelling at Jordan, telling him that he doesn’t care about what she wants and how he never does anything for her.
Jordan’s upset because he feels like he does everything for her and starts naming all the nice things he does and shoving them in her face.
Now, the original money conversation about what to do with the extra tax money has turned into an emotionally charged argument about what Jordan does for Alexa.
Money conversations can trigger an emotional response, and there’s no shame in that. It’s normal. It’s just not the best time to have these conversations.
Alexa was triggered and started yelling before Jordan had the chance to explain himself.
Jordan wasn’t sensitive to Alexa’s feelings, and by getting defensive, he just escalated the argument.
They’re both upset and focusing too much on defending themselves, or proving a point. It’s the wrong time to have this money conversation.
Mistake #2: Making negative assumptions about each other.
Alexa and Jordan got in a fight because she wants to buy patio furniture with money from their tax return.
Since their blow up, Alexa is feeling like Jordan isn’t a supportive partner and doesn’t care about her needs.
Jordan feels like Alexa is an irresponsible spender and fears he can’t build a future with her because she’ll spend all their money.
They jumped to conclusions before taking the time to truly understand where their partner is coming from.
Alexa asks Jordan why he shut her down so quickly, and he says his intention wasn’t to leave Alexa feeling unsupported. He wants her to have everything she desires and more. That’s why he works so hard to save, because he wants to provide for her and the family they want to start together.
Jordan asks Alexa why she wants to spend the money on patio furniture. She says it’s not her intention to spend every penny they make. She also wants the family to have stability and build wealth. She has big goals and wants to save for them.
They realize that their negative feelings about each other weren’t true and they let go of their anger towards each other.
Mistake #3: Fear of being vulnerable.
Alexa and Jordan are past wanting to kill each other, but neither of them have gotten real with each other.
Alexa hasn’t told Jordan much more about her desire to buy new patio furniture.
Jordan hasn’t told Alexa any ideas for what to do with the money instead.
They haven’t put it all out on the table. It hasn’t been full transparency, openness, and honesty.
Alexa decides to share her true feelings. She’s been feeling really lonely and longing for connection. She thinks if she has the patio furniture, she’ll have a fun place to host gatherings and be surrounded by friends.
Jordan knows he has to put his truth out there too. He tells Alexa that he wants to get out of the apartment and start planning to buy a house, have kids and get a dog, anddddd create a space to have friends over.
Alexa wants those things too. She just doesn’t want to wait until they buy a house before being able to have friends over.
They realize that they want the same things. They’re just coming at it with two different approaches.
Mistake #4: Choosing judgment over support
Alexa and Jordan have many of the same goals. They want to buy a house, start a family, get a dog, and have space in their home to entertain their friends and family. But they want to go about it in different ways.
Jordan is judging Alexa because he thinks it’s stupid to spend so much money on patio furniture when the alternative is getting into a new home faster. He doesn’t feel like Alexa is prioritizing buying a house.
Alexa is judging Jordan because she doesn’t think buying the patio furniture will make a big difference in their timeline and their ability to save for a down payment. She thinks he’s a scrooge because he won’t allow any fun.
They’re judging each other, as opposed to supporting each other’s desires.
Jordan decides to let Alexa know that he’s sorry that she feels lonely and that he wants to make a better effort to spend more time with their friends and family.
Alexa tells Jordan she wants to have a plan for buying a house and saving for those goals. She wants to talk about it more and create a plan.
They’re understanding and supporting each other’s desires.
Mistake # 5: “My way or the highway” attitude.
Alexa and Jordan can’t agree on an approach for their goals.
Alexa wants to spend the tax refund on patio furniture, and nothing else. Then she wants to start saving for the house.
Jordan wants to put all the money towards a down payment and buy patio furniture when their in the new house.
They’re stubborn to their approach and unwilling to compromise with each other.
Jordan suggests buying used patio furniture, or asking their parents or friends if they have anything they want to get rid of.
Alexa suggests using only a portion of the tax refund for the patio furniture and putting the rest towards their down payment fund.
They’ve both given a little, but are also both walking away happy and getting what they want.
Can you resonate with any parts of Alexa and Jordan’s story?
Money conversations with your partner require patience and practice. It’s a journey!
You also can’t control other people, so the next time you’re having a disagreement, practice being self aware and seeing if you can identify any communications mistakes you’re making.
Once you’ve gained an awareness, you can work to grow and be a better communicator.
Usually when you lead by example, your partner will get the hint and step it up too. Before you know it, you’re both making a greater effort with each other and the conversation is flowing with greater ease.
Combining your finances can be hard. You don’t have to do it alone.
Learn more about being an OnRoute Financial client by scheduling a money chat here.