My wife and I are no different. For a while we both went on with our days, both working outside the home before we had kids and transitioning to a one-income household when our son was born in 2009.
For years we talked way too little about money. I worked hard and climbed the corporate ladder. She worked hard(er) at home. All of our bills were paid. We didn't worry.
But we did worry.
She was confident that our bills were going to be paid and that I would work hard.
I was confident that she was frugal in nature and wouldn't spend more than we made.
We both knew how much was coming into the house and we had a general sense of the disposable income.
But she was stressed out because we never talked about how much savings we had, how much we could save every month.
So she didn't really have a clear picture of our financial situation.
And I was stressed because I didn't have a full grasp of the day-to-day expenses or some other purchases, so in my mind I was nervous about making more to take care of our family's expenses and still save up for things like college and to eat more than ramen noodles during retirement….
Because this is such an important issue I reached out to Derek and Carrie Olsen who blog at Better Conversations on Money & Marriage to see if they could help us work through this important topic. I'm a loyal listener of their awesome podcast by the same name and knew they would add incredible content with flair if they would agree to be on the show.
Lucky for us, they were game!
Derek and Carrie help people have better conversations on money. And that helps people have better marriages.
Derek and Carrie offered to talk with me about a five-step process to fighting less about money that they dive deep into in their upcoming book, One Bed, One Bank Account: Better Conversations on Money and Marriage that is up for presale on Amazon as an ebook and also as a great presale deal on their site where you can get the book, workbook, and audio book.
And if you head on over before the end of January 2015 they have a really great preorder special discount price and some special bonus items!
Definitely check it out. Everything Derek and Carrie produce is super high quality. And the topic is a really important part of having a successful marriage!
And they even called me out on each of these steps and helped me work through my issues talking better about money with my wife!
OK. For those of you who prefer the printed word, here are the Five Steps to Fighting Less about Money.
1. Set the date
This is a great one. Set a date to talk about money. Setting a time when you're not just getting home from work or in the middle of the mall with sparkly object syndrome. Set a date where you can sit and talk about money issues before they become a problem.
We definitely need to work on this one. We're getting better, but it's definitely something we need to become more regular about.
2. Be an Amazing Listener
I'm terrible at this. Again, getting better, but it's so important to listen intently at what your spouse is saying, why they're saying it, and only then respond. Sometimes – too many times – I'll get all wrapped up in the emotions of a money issue that I'll stop listening. Listening to what your spouse is saying helps put you in their shoes and understand them better, which helps you connect better, respond better, and reach a common ground.
3. Let go
Couples, including me, have a hard time letting go even when they've made a decision or compromised on a money issue. When you and your spouse have agreed on something, move on. Let go. Boy could I use help with this.
4. Design your shared vision
This is powerful and involves planning together for a common ground that you both take ownership in. For nearly a decade my wife and I had totally different visions of our future. Mine was all high rises and law firms. Hers was family and single-family homes.
But in May 2013 I spent some time in the suburbs with Dan and Joanne Miller and was just blown away at how I had been wrong for so many years. I immediately shared my wife's vision. Six months later, we were driving behind a moving van. Out of the city. To Massachusetts. To be with family. It's powerful.
5. Have a Brain Hurricane for solutions instead of focusing on a “problem.”
Take turns saying creative, silly, or even outride ridiculous ways to solve a money problem. Being silly will help you both smile, unfold your arms, and may even reveal a solution that would actually work. In any event, having a Brain Hurricane of powerful, solution-focused talk gets you out of fight mode.
So there you go. Five steps to fighting less about money. Thanks so much to Derek and Carrie Olsen for walking me through these.
Be sure to connect with them on their blog or podcast and be sure to check out their book, One Bed, One Bank Account:Better Conversations on Money and Marriage, which is on presale until the end of January 2015 on their site or, if you're only looking for the e-book, on Amazon. It expires at the end of January 2015, so if you're on the fence it's time to make a decision…. Fences are pointy.