~ Do discussions about money bring discord into your relationship ? If the answer is yes, you are not alone. In this interview, certified financial planner Jeff Motske provides helpful tips to resolve this problem, as covered in his book – ‘The Couples Guide to Financial Compatibility’. The solutions he provides will help you plan for the future, build a solid foundation for your financial house, proactively discuss finances with your partner and deal with boomerangs.
This year alone we’ve witnessed several companies, including Radio Shack close up its doors for good. Other major chains like Sears, Abercrombie & Fitch, Barnes & Noble, Anna’s Linens and Aerospostale have confirmed that they will be closing many if not all of their stores due to diminished sales and/or bankruptcy. These stories, although they may not affect us personally, can affect the level of stress we carry about our own financial situation. Its societal data points like this that remind us that financial success can be tough to achieve and can be fleeting.
Today’s episode focuses on how to help couples talk about money. My guest is Jeff Motske. He is the CEO of Trilogy Financial Services; host of the show “Declare Your Financial Independence” on 1110AM KFAX San Francisco, and the author of “The Couples Guide to Financial Compatibility”. Jeff talks with us about building a financial legacy; how to talk you’re your spouse about a family budget and how to talk with your adult kids about financial responsibility when they move back home. He’s also going to tell us all about his “War of the Wallets” quiz that you can take online with your spouse.
When Trilogy was in its infancy, Jeff started out meeting his client’s needs based on where they were in life and what their financial goals were. He took a small town approach when his competitors were sticking with Wall Street strategies. This approached has grown Trilogy into a nationwide company whose client’s investments surpass $2 billion dollars. Jeff provided us with a lot of insight and some great tips on helping couples talk about their finances and plan for life events.
We all feel the stress of money at times. Back in my single days, I used to imagine it would be easier to handle money stress when the day came that I would partner up and get married, as I imagine most people think. The problem is, it doesn’t actually get easier. In fact, depending on your situation, either a 2 -income or 1 – income household, it can pose new complications you didn’t have when single (i.e. power struggles over spending, deciding on how to budget, and setting financial limits). In fact, money can be one of the most complicated, or stress-inducing, subjects for couples to talk about. If you search online, you’ll find article after article about how money is the hottest point of contention between couples – I found numbers between 35-57% of couples complaining that money is their number 1 problem. Whether they argue or not, Couples face a lot of stresses in life in life: work, family, kids, who’s going to do the grocery shopping, who’s going to do the dishes. However, when different financial philosophies or struggles enter the picture, it can absolutely get them stuck. Money affects all of us differently. Our parents’ philosophy around money often dictates our own.
One person may be a spender; the other may be a saver. Sometimes they have similar philosophies both are spenders or savers. Other times, they walk blindly through their life believing their partner is handling the finances. Turning a blind eye to your financial situation and always letting your partner handle it can really get you into trouble. In a partnership, even if one person is the designated “bill payer”, its important to at least be apprised of your current situation on at least a monthly basis. In my private practice, I’ve come across couples who have literally avoided talking about their financial picture for years. Once a couple gets locked in this avoidant pattern, it can be hard to break, but it can be done.
A lot of what Jeff emphasizes for the couples to keep them healthy financially is similar to the work us marriage therapists do at times with our clients. One of the key components to a happy relationship is effective communication and you need that to do any of the things Jeff talked about. I think the financial date night is a great idea. When couples plan to set aside time to talk about finances (or any other stressful matter), it can relieve the stress of “how do I” or “when do I” bring up my questions or concerns to my partner. Just to make it easier to stay focused, couples can bring notes with them for these discussions. Holding the meeting under the guise of a “date” sets the tone that this is about connection and having the meeting outside of the home reduces the chances of the couple getting emotionally triggered and arguing over a difficult item. I would caution you that couples that have been avoidant of talking about their finances have probably been avoidant about other topics as well. Getting back into talking about these uncomfortable topics can add stress to an already stressful situation. Keep in mind that the financial date night, should be looked at as a time for collaborative problem solving and a time to express concerns effectively. If couples that have been avoidant in the past find that they’re still having trouble addressing the issue or don’t know how to go about talking about it, I’d recommend that they seek out a few sessions with a licensed marriage and family therapist. Most marriage therapists are interested in helping couples effectively communicate and develop the skills to talk with each other safely & authentically without needing the therapist. Deciding to go to couples counseling can be intimidating but it’s really not uncommon for couples to reach out when they are about to embark on trying new behaviors or ways of communicating to ask for help with that.
Whatever your financial situation is, Jeff Motske’s book, “The Couples Guide to Financial Compatibility” can be a healthy starting point for exploring your financial philosophies as a couple and gaining some guidance on ways to discuss the financial planning of some of life’s milestones.
JeffMotske.com You can find Jeff’s book “The Couples Guide to Financial Compatibility” as well as his “War of the Wallets” quiz and links to Trilogy Financial Services here
Real Hope/Free communication tips providing some free helpful tips online for increasing healthy couple communication.
Harville Hendrix Intentional Dialogue Exercise Harville Hendrix is a master of couple relationship dynamics. He is the founder of IMAGO Therapy. His Intentional Dialogue exercise is a communication strategy designed to help you work through issues or disagreements that may be holding you back from a more intimate and fulfilling relationship with your partner.
Love Pong Love Pong is an interactive online game designed to help couples improve their communication and express their emotions more effectively.