• Put Feelings Before Figures When Fighting Over Finances

    Put Feelings Before Figures When Fighting Over Finances

    More than four in 10 married couples in the U.S. report that they argue about money. So if you and your spouse are fighting about how much to spend on your upcoming theme park vacation or whether you can afford a new SUV, you’re not alone. Money fights are notorious for the stress they can inflict on relationships, and it’s easy to get stuck in a destructive cycle of arguing and hurt feelings. But you and your partner can foster more fruitful financial discussions and break the pattern of conflict over cash. Here are four things to consider before you sit down for your next big money talk.


    1. Realize money is rarely the only issue. We all come to financial conversations shaped by our early experiences with — or without — money. We develop different perspectives about the purpose of money in our lives: Should it support security and stability or promote choice and freedom? And it’s these fundamental core values that often end up in conflict when couples fight over finances.


    1. Begin by connecting. Money conversations can be highly loaded. They bring up many deep feelings about ourselves and what we expect of our partners. Discussing your anxieties around money with your partner can help you connect and support each other rather than leave you at odds. Open up about what your parents taught you (directly or indirectly) about money and about any particular financial fears and insecurities you might have — no matter the current balance in your bank account.


    1. Build your core values into your spreadsheet. It can be tempting to think that money management in a relationship comes down to debits and credits on a spreadsheet, but it’s also about identifying your core beliefs and shared values around money. It requires figuring out what your relationship goals are (financial and otherwise) and how you can use your financial resources to help achieve them. When couples connect about their shared dreams, financial discussions can become a roadmap to reach them rather than a source of conflict.


    1. Don’t win the money fight but lose the relationship. Money conversations within a marriage are not transactional — there’s no winner if one partner is left feeling powerless or ignored. Unlike buying a car, where you’re trying to negotiate the best deal with someone you’ll probably never see again, an argument about money with a spouse or partner is one that can have lasting impacts — far beyond who “wins.” You want to both walk away feeling heard, respected and valued.


    Acknowledge the power dynamics that might be at play if one partner earns significantly more than another — or if one partner stays home to care for family and run the household while the other provides most of the income. Money conflicts between partners are not a zero-sum game — they should be a collaborative decision-making process, where the ultimate “winner” is the relationship itself.


    If fighting about finances is causing ongoing stress within your relationship, call me to see if couples therapy might be able to help you find connection — rather than conflict — in your conversations about cash.




    Therapy services available via Telehealth.