Financial Planning

Money and Marriage: The Emotions Behind the Numbers

You’re married, so now what do you do with your money? If you’ve haven’t had “the talk” about money, now’s the time. If you’ve never had a math-less conversation about money, you might be surprised how helpful, encouraging and fun it can be.

“Math-less? What does that even mean?”

Money has more to do with emotions, family history, and personal expectations than it does math. You could spend a lifetime exploring and applying the non-financial aspects of money and it would be well worth the time. Talking about your feelings and expectations before taking a look at the numbers can do several great things for your relationship.

Take the pressure off

Talking about money takes on a completely different feel when there’s no pressure to work on a budget. The idea is to share how you feel about money. The goal is to understand and appreciate each other’s feelings. For some people, just the thought of budgeting is too much. Have a low-pressure conversation about money to ease into the world of budgeting. We’re just talking here, there’s really no way to screw it up!

Express your thoughts

Money is extremely emotional. There’s a lot of history and expectations that each of you will bring into your new life together. Simply sharing how you feel and listening to each other will help build a strong foundation for your new financial life together. You might not agree on everything right away, but feeling listened to and respected is another great goal when you are just starting out.

Establish a common path

Finding common ground is always a great place to start any new relationship. If you think back to your first few dates, you probably spent the majority of the time searching for common ground. (You love Dancing with the Stars also!?) It’s the same when a couple starts to establish a new relationship with money together. Agreeing on just one financial goal (or feeling, or opinion) will get the wheels turning in the right direction. Find your common ground and go from there. Return to your common ground anytime things start to get frustrating or confusing.

And this is supposed to be fun? Yes! It is.

Remember, we aren’t getting too serious here and we aren’t even digging into the numbers and budgets yet. Even if you don’t get around to an actual monthly budget for some time, I recommend talking about money at least once a month. Here are a few questions you can use to guide the money conversation and yes, have some fun.

  • How would you spend $100,000?
  • What is your family history with money?
  • If we don’t always agree on money issues, how can we resolve those issues?
  • Where do you want to be in five years from now financially?
  • What is your tolerance level for debt?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how emotional are you about money? Explain why.
  • Are you okay with my $10,000 beanie baby collection, ’cause I’m not letting it go!

Working a monthly budget together is of course recommended, but just talking about money can bring about totally different results for your relationship beyond a growing bank account.

Managing your money together can be easy and fun. Don’t let money talk dampen the lifetime of happiness ahead of you. Instead, let money be one of the many things that makes your relationship great.

Derek Olsen is author of the #1 bestselling book One Bed, One Bank Account. Derek and his wife Carrie co-host The Better Conversations Podcast. Get a free e-book on money and marriage when you sign up for Derek and Carrie’s newsletter. Follow Derek on Twitter at @DerekCOlsen