Honey, Can We Talk About Money?

Talk about money can be tough. Take this example: She got him an iPad. He got her a notepad. As Valentine’s Day came and went, a couple struggled with questions about consumerism, the meaning behind holiday gifts, and how money affected their relationship. Whether it was financial inequality (especially if she is “better off”), overspending, or miserliness (a la Scrooge), the worst action to take about the issue is none at all.

According to Ken Donaldson, Licensed Mental Health Counselor and author of Marry Yourself First: Say “I Do” To a Life of Passion, Power, Purpose, and Prosperity, while money is often quoted as the number 1 or 2 reason for divorce (along with sex), both are about power and control.

Idea 1: Try a Monthly Money Date

Start with a 15-minute monthly “money date”. (2 1/2 minute video on Money Dates here:Make It a 3-Part Money Date).

Idea 2: Try a Relationship Conference

Try a “Relationship Conference”: taking turns being a pure listener to your partner’s issues. Being the listener in a relationship conference means saying nothing while your partner talks. You can decide on the timeframe, but make it somewhere between 15 and 45 minutes. You can take notes. Take a break for 24 to 48 hours, and then reflect back what you heard. Then you talk for the same amount of time while your partner takes notes.

Idea 3: Take Turns Active Listening

Another option is to take turns being the active listener. This means being fully present to your partner’s issues and emotions, without bringing any of your own responses or emotions into the conversation. You do this by repeating back what you heard, checking with them to make sure you got it all, and asking to hear more about the emotions underlying each statement.

Idea 4: Ask For Practice Help

Sound too difficult? Sometimes each of these exercises work best if practiced with a mental health professional first. Regardless, give yourselves the gift of an enhanced relationship by having a healthy holiday conversation about the meaning of money.

Want further help? Check out “Resources” in the back of The Mindful Money Mentality, leave a comment here, or email holly@hollypdonaldson.com. And Happy Valentine’s Month!

Holly Donaldson

Holly Donaldson, CFP® runs an hourly and fee-for-service financial planning practice virtually from her Tampa Bay, Florida office. She also works with clients throughout the U.S. (except Texas) interested in retirement and tax planning advice without product sales or investment management. Holly is the author of The Mindful Money Mentality: How to Find Balance in Your Financial Future (Porchview Publishing, 2013) and publisher of the award-winning monthly e-letter, "The View From the Porch."

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