Yes, I know. Money’s a touchy subject. As children, most of us are taught that paying bills and discussing salaries is something that’s done behind closed doors – and often in exasperated tones. We carry these preconceived notions into our future relationships, hiding secrets about our financial lives from the partners we claim to share every aspect of our lives with. This isn’t healthy, and it’s no way to build a solid relationship. Read on for more advice about talking to your partner about money:
Timing is Everything
The first thing to keep in mind when initiating a financial conversation is timing. As with any major discussion, there’s a time and a place to talk about money. Three dates in is not the time to whip out your stock portfolio. However, if your relationship is getting serious and you’re starting to talk about getting married, it’s time to get down and dirty about your money.
Honesty is the Best Policy
We all have some skeletons in our closets, but if yours are credit-related, don’t try to sweep them under the rug. Lay everything out on the table and ask your partner to do the same. If you’re in a serious relationship and contemplating marriage, you might have some big purchases in your future. Imagine the look on your partner’s face when a mortgage lender denies your loan application based on your credit history. These problems will come up at some point, so it’s best to get them out in the open and address them in a mature, adult way.
Money is a difficult subject for many people. We have all sorts of emotions attached to it, whether it’s shame over past indiscretions or feelings of inadequacy based on how big (or small) our salaries are. It’s easy to get uncomfortable or accidentally offend your partner when talking about money, so it’s important to be sensitive to his or her needs. Instead of phrasing the conversation in terms of negatives – like his low credit score or her shopaholic tendencies – focus on your future goals. If you want to buy a home, a car or a business, talk about the positive action steps you need to take to make your dream a reality.
Talking about money can be uncomfortable, but if your partner flat out refuses to have the discussion, consider it a major red flag in your relationship. A person who isn’t ready to come clean about his or her financial situation probably isn’t mature enough to handle the demands of an adult relationship. Marriage represents a serious commitment between two people – so make sure you’re committing to someone who’s willing to work towards shared financial goals with you.
It’s easy to get swept away in the romance of a new relationship. But before you run off to tie the knot, get intimate with each other’s financial situations. Share everything – your credit score, spending and saving habits and current debt load. Learning to communicate openly about money and financial commitments is an important skill that will keep your relationship stable, even through the hardest of times.