by Kristin Kuiper LMSW, MSW
This weekend on Where You Live, Maranda is going to be focusing on the heated issue of money and finances in marriages and families. I’m excited to see what she is going to be highlighting and have been able to share a few pointers which will be on the show as well.
Before you and your spouse even BEGIN to get into another argument or heated “discussion” about the checkbook, I want to encourage you to keep a few things in mind that might be helpful in getting you heard and in reaching some understanding and compromise around challenging money issues.
When you think about discussing a tough topic, like finances, think about how you are working to “secure the environment” of the conversation. In other words, really pay attention to how you are contributing to dynamics that make these kinds of conversations so difficult. Are you being defensive? Are you criticizing your spouse? Do you shut down when the same issues come up over and over again? These contributions to difficult conversations are ones that you have some control over.
Instead of resorting to these common ways of trying to get your points across in conversation, ask yourself, “What is my real dream here that I could communicate?” or another way of asking the same question is “What conversation could I be having about something that I am desiring instead of having this current argument?”
Case in point: I worked with a couple recently in which one spouse was very excited about starting his own business and was ready to cash out his 401K and sell valuable items to fund the start up. His wife panicked at this thought and refused to support his efforts. He felt criticized and became distant. In this type of situation, what we focused on was identifying the “dreams” present. She desired and dreamed of a secure financial future. He dreamed and desired adventure and the freedom from a corporate setting. When they identified their desires, we were able to come to some understanding of how they might love each other well and support each other’s dreams amidst this decision. They are still working this out, but are working toward compromise and find that they feel like they are on the same team now.
When you think of the rough spots in your conversations about money with your partner, is there a consistent dream or desire that is present for you? Is there a way you could communicate this dream that might increase understanding and conversation in your relationship, rather than conflict?