There will quickly come a time in your marriage or dating relationship when you disagree about money. The most common argument occurs when two people disagree about how a certain amount of money should be spent. The guy might want to buy a television while the girl wants to put the money away for a vacation. One spouse may want to cut down on eating out while the other may want to cut off the cable or cell phone bill. These and many other financial decisions will often cause a dispute between two spouses. One of three scenarios occurs when a financial dispute arises.
- One spouse shuts down, and submits to the other spouse’s idea
- Two spouses shut down, and the dispute festers until one of the two spouses goes ahead and makes the decision without the other’s consent.
- Both spouses hold their stance in the argument, and the argument becomes more than just a financial dispute, it becomes a personal dispute.
Here are a few steps to take that have worked for me and my wife when disagreeing about money:
Genuinely listen to each other
You may find out that you disagree less with each other if you stop to take the time and listen to each other’s point of view. It’s very easy to let someone else speak, but it’s very hard to genuinely practice active listening while they are speaking about something you disagree with. We tend to only hear the things we want to hear and we’re so eager to make our point, that we forget to listen to the other person.
Write down the pros and cons to the decision
It sounds a little hokey, but stopping to take the time and write down all of the facts about the financial decision you are about to make can help to relieve some tension in the air and help you weigh the good and the bad of the decision. The key here is trying to find common ground. What do you both specifically agree on, and what do you specifically disagree on? If one of you wants to use the money to start a college fund for your kid, and the other wants to save for an upgraded car, write down all of the pros and cons of each. Find out the true motives of why you want to do this or that with your money.
Seek advice or an opinion from an outside source
This does not have to be a professional. Getting an unbiased opinion from your family, friends, and co-workers may be the best way to resolve a financial dispute. If you already use a financial planner or advisor, definitely ask them which decision would be better to make. DO NOT rub it in your spouse’s face if your decision turns out to be the right one based on other people’s advice. Also, don’t solely rely on someone else’s advice about your money. It’s you and your spouse’s money when all of the smoke clears. Many people fall into this trap when using a financial advisor. They want them to answer all of their questions and take control of their money. Remember, you and your spouse are the pilots of your money. Outside sources are just a navigational system.
The more selfish that you are, the more you will find yourself fighting about money with your spouse. Part of tying the knot is coming together and making decisions as one unit. If you listen, weigh the costs and benefits, and seek outside advice, you’ll find yourself making more sound financial decisions together and your marriage will not suffer quite as much. Try hard to not make the disagreement personal. Avoid calling each other’s name or gloating about being right. Actions such as these are for children, not adults.