NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Talk to Your Spouse About Money

In my prior post, Talk to Your Fiance About Money Before You Get Married, I recommended that people talk about money before they get married. Whether you started out doing that or not, when you're in a committed relationship and sharing a home, you really need to be able to talk to your partner about money.

Talk to Your Spouse About Money

As a couples counselor, I see many people who come to marriage counseling due to serious conflicts about money. It's one of the major reasons why people come for treatment.

There are numerous reasons why couples have conflicts about money. Here are some of the major reasons and some tips on how to overcome these problems:

No Financial Plan:
Many couples enter into their marriages without a common understanding between them about how they want to handle their finances.

Talk to Your Spouse About Money

Many people assume that their partners feel the same way that they do about money. However, this is often not the case. Couples need to come to an agreement about short-term and long-term financial plans. There should be no secrets about money. If a couple needs to make a major purchase, they need to talk it over together first.

Otherwise, if one person just goes ahead and makes a major purchase without consulting with his partner, this can often lead to fights about money. Or, if one of them has a secret bank account, sooner or later this information will come to light and this will also cause significant problems. Also, either of these issues would be indicative of larger underlying problems in the relationship that go deeper than money problems.

No Understanding About Each Partner's Role Regarding Money:
There needs to be an understanding about who is overseeing the couple's finances. This doesn't mean that it must be a rigid role and that these responsibilities cannot be shared or rotated every so often.

However, at any given time, the couple needs to agree as to which one of them is handling the various aspects of their finances, such as handling the checking account and paying the bills. Sometimes, one partner is better at it than the other and prefers to do it. This is fine--as long as each partner is completely knowledgeable about all aspects of their finances and would know how to handle them or where to find information in an emergency.

Avoid Getting Into Power Struggles About Money:
Often, when couples get into fights about money, it becomes a power struggle between them. Couples need to learn to communicate about money in a way that is respectful.

Talk to Your Spouse About Money:  Avoid Getting Into Power Struggle About Money

As I mentioned in a prior post, it's better to speak from your own experience ("I feel upset when you pay the mortgage late") than to be critical or verbally abusive ("I can't believe that you were so stupid that you forgot to pay the mortgage this month"). No cursing. No put downs. No hurling "dirty laundry" at your partner. Stick with the discussion at hand. If it becomes too heated, take a break and get back to it when you're both calm again.

Having long-term financial plans that you are both working on together can bring you and your partner closer together as you see progress over time towards your goals.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you and your partner are fighting about money and you're unable to resolve it between you, you could benefit from marriage counseling.

I am a New York City psychotherapist and couples counselor in NYC. To find out more about me, visit my web site at Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

Feel free to call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me to set up a consultation.