It feels like every day we get another piece of bad news about the cost of living crisis – whether that’s soaring inflation and interest rates, increased energy prices or the rise in price of our weekly food shop.
But for many couples the impact of this financial bad news on their own wallets and bank accounts can be a hard topic to be open with each other about. And it can be a source of conflict.
We spoke to some of our members who are relationship counsellors for their thoughts on why couples struggle to talk to each other about their financial worries – and for some tips on how to open up to partners about money issues.
Our member Vasia Toxavidi says: “Finances can be one of the main issues that can create and keep creating conflicts and problems in relationships.”
She adds: “Unfortunately, we have learnt to live in fear of being vulnerable and showing our true selves. When it comes to finances this can be even more difficult as money for many people represent power, validation, approval and an ego boost.”
Jenny Warwick stressed the importance of having an honest conversation with your partner.
"Being able to have frank and honest about finances are an essential part of a healthy relationship and reflects how we work together as a couple. It may well shine a light on how each partner feels about their finances, their relationship with money and just how seriously they’re taking it. Any cracks that were already present in the relationship, that perhaps you weren’t aware of, may become more apparent."
She adds: "Most of us are not used to talking about finances and money but at the moment it feels like it is all anyone is talking about. Make now the time to consider your own feelings about money. Talking about it with your partner will help get this subject out into the open. We need to release the shame, guilt and secrecy around money and start having open and honest conversations."
Tips on how to open up to your partner about money worries
Think about what you’d like to say
Jenny recommends thinking in advance about what you want to say to your partner. She adds: “Letting them know how you feel is always a good place to start.”
Don’t use blaming words
Vasia says: “Make sure when you are about to open up about your money worries you don’t use any blame wording such as ‘Your spending makes me feel worried about money during these times’...better to say ‘I feel that we need to be more careful around our spending…’”
Timing is everything
Jenny recommends thinking about when would be a good time to talk about your finances. She suggests “not when you’ve just got in from work and you’re tired and grumpy. It will be much less stressful when you’re both feeling relaxed.”
Be honest about your attitude to money
“People can have different perspectives around money that have been influenced by family, growing up, culture and so on- so being honest about that to your partner may help both of you to understand better how money is being viewed from both sides, “ says Vasia.
One conversation is just the start
This shouldn’t just be one-time conversation, says Jenny. “See this as just the introduction to an ongoing conversation that you'll be having, not one quick chat never to be mentioned again. It's going to be uncomfortable to start talking about money worries but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.”
Vasia adds that taking time each week to check in with each other about finances can be helpful. As money worries can create uncertainty, checking regularly with each other can create more a sense of certainty, clarity and grounding.
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