Money and Relationships: How To Stop Toxic Power Dynamics in Their Tracks
Money is one of the things that couples fight about most frequently. It can create power dynamics that are toxic and have been the downfall of many seemingly strong relationships.
Yet, by using a few simple tools, these power struggles and money meltdowns can be avoided.
If you do nothing else, this one tip can save you hours of ugly fights. Simply talking about your financial situation on a regular basis with your significant other will stop fights before they start. Try this: set up a regular “money date” once a month and check in on how things are going. What money was spent, what went well, what can be worked on during the coming month. Do this over a glass of wine or a nice cup of coffee and make it an enjoyable activity to do together.
Don’t Keep Secrets
Secrets are relationship poison. When they inevitably come out, there is usually a giant fight that follows. Keep the lines of communication open and try to be understanding of your spouse’s shortcomings. Chances are the reason they are keeping a secret is because they don’t want to get into a fight. If that possibility is off the table, it will be better for everyone.
Walk Away & Cool Off
Money can be a tense topic, especially when there isn’t enough or someone makes choices that are different from what was discussed. Sometimes it is better for all involved to put a pin in the problem and cool off. This avoids people saying things that they don’t mean. Try this: if things are getting too tense, go for a walk around the block. Getting some fresh air and a little light exercise can help you see the situation in a new light.
Clarify Your Goals
If everyone is on the same page about what you are working towards, it is much easier for everyone to make decisions that will benefit the family. If you have kids, bring them in on this discussion, too. Creating family goals can be a fun activity and will make all the members of your family feel valued and heard. Make sure to review these goals every once in awhile because, as life changes, your goals will too. Reviewing them often will also help you stay excited which makes it easier to stay on track.
Talk to a Pro
When all else fails, bring in an impartial third party. Sometimes a fresh set of eyes on the situation is all that is needed to clarify the situation. For some couples, this might mean an annual trip to the financial planner. For others, it might mean talking to a counsellor to get some tools on effective communication.
At the end of the day, the bottom line is sticking your head in the sand and pretending that the problem isn’t there will only make things worse. Talking to your spouse about money in an open and honest way will create a solid relationship that can withstand the curveballs that life throws at you.