Do you find yourself having frequent conversations surrounding finances with your spouse? What about none at all?
Finances are a common point of contention in many marriages. It’s not something to be ashamed of, but it doesn’t have to be something you live with either.
We believe it’s important for client couples to be on the same page regarding their finances. Here is why this matters and what we do to encourage unity!
Where Do Differing Financial Personalities Come From?
Over half of our clients are married couples. They say “opposites attract,” and based on our experience, this often includes financial personalities.
One spouse is a spender, while the other is a saver. One is cautious when it comes to money, the other isn’t opposed to taking risks. These differences can be good because each spouse balances the other out.
Much of these preferences can be attributed to how you grew up — how much money you had or how your family talked about it. Other times, your personality influences how you think and feel about money. If you love to be spontaneous, you may be more of a spender. If you are a detailed planner, you might tend to save.
Although these differences can be helpful, they pose challenges when this leads to differing opinions on a financial decision and each partner doesn’t understand the other’s reasoning. It leads to conflict. Either you keep having a conversation that goes nowhere, or you avoid talking about the topic altogether.
Why? If you don’t understand what is driving your spouse’s decisions, it’s difficult to see the situation from their point of view.
Bridging the Gap
We use two tools to help bridge this gap: a money personality quiz and an exercise on developing financial priorities.
The money personality quiz helps clients determine what drives their financial decisions, such as helping others, security, enjoyment, peace of mind, the fear of missing out, etc.
Our exercise on developing financial priorities allows clients to identify the five things that matter most to them. Some examples include retiring early, living off one income, providing for family members, traveling more, or being completely debt-free.
Many of our clients find clarity based on their results but are far more impacted when they see their spouses’ answers. This awareness is really powerful. It allows them to see things more clearly and share their answers with each other in a safe environment, using our tools to support their reasons and motivations.
Often, clients will share a vivid memory from their childhood that shaped their view on money, which their spouse had never heard before.
For example, when I was six, our house flooded. It made me understand that everything you have can be gone quickly. It really impacted me, even at a young age. As a result, I lean toward caution in financial decisions. I’m a saver who likes to prepare for the unexpected.
And everyone has their own story.
Affirming the Good
After walking through these two tools, we give clients the time and space to talk about their priorities. We encourage them to compromise and prioritize the needs and desires of the other and then step back and let them take the conversation into a productive place of understanding each other better.
Most importantly, we encourage them to affirm the good in each other. We mentioned earlier that each financial personality has its benefits. We want them to remind themselves that even though they aren’t wired the same way as their spouse, there is good in how they are.
If your spouse is spontaneous and not always future-focused, they are not letting opportunities pass them by so that they can have a mountain of money when they die. If your spouse is a determined budgeter and saver, they are the reason you can take a fun family vacation every year and send all of your kids to college.
There is value in being a spender. There is value in being a saver. There is value in seizing opportunities. There is value in being thoughtful.
Each time, the clients have more respect for each other. Many have told us that it has changed the tone of their marriage.
Why Is It Important to Be on the Same Page?
Through these exercises and conversations, our goal is to get the clients on the same page with their finances. We are there for mediation and support, not to take sides. Sometimes this may be a 50/50 compromise. Other times it’s whatever middle ground meets both of their expectations. Then we can help them create a unified plan as a team rather than as individuals.
Why does this matter? Almost every decision a couple makes has some connection to money. How you are discussing these decisions and whether or not you are on the same page can take a conversation from frustrating and futile to positive and productive.
Statistics will tell you that when a married couple is experiencing negative interactions surrounding finances, it can lead to distance and severe damage to the relationship.
We’re here to create unity and oneness.
Finding Financial Unity In Your Marriage
If you feel like there’s unusual disunity in your marriage, here are some things that can get you started on the right path.
What do you want your marriage to look like? If finances are an area of conflict, what would it look like if it became an area of unity? How would it change your finances? How would it change your marriage?
If you and your spouse are financial opposites, tell them how you see the ways they think about money as helpful and valuable. It could pave the way for a much-needed conversation!
Contact us today to learn more about how our advisors can help you create a unified financial plan that meets your needs and prioritizes what you value most!