Sometimes, in our busy lives, we often lose sight of ‘us’. This is not a new phenomenon that’s suddenly evolved from a new age workshop or even new technology, this ‘happening’ has been around as long as we’ve been on this planet.
We’re emotional beings so we write a lot about it, in fact we’ve been writing about this ‘thing’ for years. Songs like, “You don’t bring me flowers” – “you hardly talk to me anymore when I walk through the door at the end of the day.”
As one client told us, “our conversation is just transactional. We talk about who has to be where and when. What needs doing over the weekend. Who is cooking dinner, or what takeaways we’re having.”
This is not unusual in relationships. In the early days (often pre-children) our focus is totally on us as a couple, there is time to talk, to dream and plan. But often even in this phase, money is left out of the conversation.
As children come along, we get busier and the focus becomes less on each other and more on the children. It becomes easy to lose a sense of what brought us together in the first place.
It’s time to talk about ‘us’.
We need to time to spend with each other without the distractions, whether it’s kids or careers. This is when we get to talk about us as individuals and as an emotional and intimate couple, about our plans for the future.
Scheduling regular ‘Date nights’ are great for getting some personal time back, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.
However, it’s not surprising that in this phase, ‘our money’ isn’t talked about. With our busy lives, it tends to be a fringe, almost a taboo subject; possibly because it is one fraught with tension. The last thing you want to do at the end of a busy day, or a full-on weekend, is start a conversation that will potentially add more stress. It is at times like this that many relationships start to come apart.
Statistics show that 75-80% of relationships fail because of money disputes. These disputes didn’t suddenly happen out of nothing.
These disputes have their roots in the early stages of relationships when couples didn’t have, or didn’t know how to, have ‘the money conversation’. And so not understanding the other’s point of view on money (financial goals), compounded the problem.
Not knowing how to talk about money and face up to the stress that money is adding to your relationship, is the real issue.
Assumptions can take over if things aren’t talked through. We expect our partners to be mind readers and know what we are thinking – it works with who is going to take out the rubbish, so why wouldn’t it work with money!
The secret to getting through this phase is to make the time for each other.
This is possible, but only if you are both willing to have the conversation and build the vision that enables you to set aside time and money for date nights and weekends away.
A great way to start this is to have a financial ‘date night’.
It may not sound very lovey-dovey, but regular financial dates give couples a chance to discuss everything from taxes, to what home improvements need to be made, to retirement planning and everything in between. Nanci Hellmich has written a great article about financial dates.
Like regular date nights, it doesn’t have to be dinner or even at night. It could be a picnic lunch in the park, or breakfast at home before the rest of the family wake up. Whatever time of the day or wherever you choose to go, setting aside time to talk about your finances is really important – not just for your finances but for your relationship as well.
Here are a few tips for a successful financial date.
- Schedule them at a regular time each month, otherwise time will slip by and without you realising it, you’ve missed a couple of months
- Don’t spring the money conversation on your partner during a regular date night. It will end in disaster!
- If you are the household banker, make sure you have your numbers ready. Start with the positives; what went well during the month, were there any surprises, what didn’t go so well.
- Use this time to do some forward planning; what’s coming up in the next month, weekends away, birthday’s trips to the dentist?
- Check in with your goals and your shared vision and celebrate your successes!
- Don’t continue if the discussion is getting a little heated (as they might in the early ones) stop the date and pick it up again when emotions have cooled.
- Set the tone for the date as you would an ordinary date night. Get rid of distractions, find a comfy spot, have snacks and drinks if you want them. Start and end your date with a hug, regardless of what has gone on in the middle.
As you get into the swing of your financial dates, they will become less about what happened last month and more about planning your future and celebrating your wins.
The alternative? Arguing about money, avoiding talking about it, or a lot of unfinished conversations. This can lead to bitterness and frustration which is not the best pathway to relationship harmony.
If you do nothing else after reading this blog, stop on the way home and buy some flowers for the one you love!
If you would like us to help you to explore your own relationship with love and money and that of your partner, drop us an email or click on this link to find a day and time that suits you to have a chat with us – it’s completely free!