Are you dreading that financial conversation

By Kurtney Durgaparsad, Research Analyst at Alexforbes

Many people say that the key to a good relationship with your partner is practising honesty and open communication, and this also applies to money matters.

Many people struggle to talk about finances with their partners, which isn’t surprising as money is one of the most common reasons long-term relationships end. So, if you want to have a good relationship, you need to deal with this challenge effectively. The important people in your life can also impact how you spend your money and whether you reach your goals, so this is another good reason to work on your money communication skills at home.

A good way to start is to think about why you need to have this conversation. Most of the time, it’s an event or situation – a holiday or a big-ticket purchase – that requires us to have ‘the money conversation’. Identifying the reason helps you to understand the importance of the conversation.

Take baby steps
Take baby steps – Try break the topic down into manageable parts and look for points you agree on and build on those. Look for other opportunities to discuss money matters when there’s not an issue to be resolved. This can help you and your partner to become more comfortable discussing money matters with each other.

Don’t sweep things under the rug
If financial matters are causing strain in your relationship, rather address the problem. Never sweep any issues under the rug because that will not solve the issue and may make things worse.

Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise
You need to prioritise, and this can come with having to give up something now to get something you want more in the future. If you and your partner have joint or individual goals, whether it is saving for a holiday together or buying a car, there may be some sacrifices you need to make to achieve those goals. Discuss your goals to see what your joint and individual priorities are. Set realistic financial expectations of each other to have a better understanding of each other’s goals.

Sometimes it can be difficult to communicate and be honest with your partner about money and your feelings relating to money. We may feel judged, embarrassed or ashamed, depending on our experiences, beliefs and backgrounds. But it’s okay to feel like this because it is a very intimate topic and having to discuss this requires a level of vulnerability.

How to have that money conversation
Be patient. Factoring in another human being into our lives can be difficult. Having patience means listening, seeking to understand, not expecting the other person to immediately see things the same way as you do, and taking time to plan. From my experience, patience really does help in all aspects of your relationship, especially when it comes to bigger issues like money.

Patience is needed if you want to understand where your partner is coming from and if you want to be understood. It will most likely take time to reach your goals and to live the lifestyle you currently can’t afford. So be patient with yourself and with each other. And remember, if you’re having difficulty with this, talk about it with each other so that you do not let your frustrations build up.

It may take some time and a few pep talks to yourself but reaching this level of intimacy with your partner can strengthen your relationship and should also help you to manage your money more effectively.

If you find this prospect too daunting or you just don’t know where to start, connecting with a financial planner could help you and your partner take those first steps. A financial planner can help you feel more informed, prepared and confident to deal with any financial issues you may face along the way, together.