According to MarketWatch, approximately one-third of couples site finances as the most stressful part of their relationships. A shocking 91% of Americans try to avoid talking about money with their partners. No wonder half of divorces attribute money as the cause. If we can’t talk about the problem, we can’t fix it. And when times or tough, communication is the key to emotional survival. Here are some marriage survival tips to help you keep your promise to love each other through both good times and bad.
It’s Not About Money, It’s About Emotions
You may find you and your spouse irritated and frustrated when trying to discuss finances. Remember that the problem is not the lack of money in the bank, it’s the emotions that result. Women often feel worry about an uncertain future while men are more likely to feel anxious over the idea of failing to provide for their families. Pause before speaking, take a second to gauge your own emotions and remember the same anxious feelings are going on inside your spouse too. Then proceed with what you have to say with empathy.
Remember What’s Important
When things get so bad that you are looking at the door longingly, stop yourself for a moment. What’s really important here? Is it your family or the amount of money in your bank account? If it is your spouse’s past mistakes that are hurting you now, you need to let go and forgive, as long as your spouse is willing to make those mistakes right.
And you need to take responsibility for your own mistakes. In many cases, we allow our spouse’s to make bad moves, rather than take the time to discuss concerns in advance. You still need to let your spouse make his or her own decisions, but if you take the time to talk it out first you’ll be better off whether things work out well or not.
When you allow your partner the freedom to make mistakes, there will be less anger and finger pointing in the aftermath. Your spouse will likely accept the mistake and be more willing to change behavior to do it right the next time, making it easier for you to forgive this time.
When you are the one who makes a mistake, be open to your partner’s feelings over the error. Accept your own culpability and take time to learn what you can from it. Be willing to change the way you do things next time.
Get on the Same Page Before You Make a Plan
Whether you start out on the same financial page or not, you have to find a way to get on the same page before you can make plans for a financial recovery. That means a lot of talking, heart wrenching emotions and openness to your spouse’s feelings and ideas.
Write down your goal, which is often getting back to where you were before it all came tumbling down. Next brainstorm together what you might do to get there. You might need to set up a debt management program, get financial counseling or plan for a bankruptcy. Do not take any of these options lightly and only move forward when you both feel confident that you understand the implications. Your spouse may feel comfortable with your plans one day and change his or her mind the next. Be patient until you both feel confidence in your plans and then move forward.
Focus on the problem at hand and worry about long term goals only after the current problem is under control. Go over each step of your plan to be sure you are both dedicated to the same steps towards your common goal.
Talk to a Couple That Knows
The advice I’m giving you here comes from experience. If you want to know how my husband and I made it through our financial crisis, read my post at Wealth Pilgrim (http://wealthpilgrim.com/survive-bankruptcy-foreclosure/). We were careful to talk to other older couples we knew who went through similar problems in the 70s and again in the 80s. The couples that succeeded in sticking together through the tough times have a lot of advice to offer you now. Listen carefully to what they have to say and apply the lessons they learned to your own relationship.
Above all, remember that you and your spouse are one entity, a couple. Your family is one circle that must be protected. As soon as you start focusing on yourself alone and forgetting the others around you, you are lost. Include your entire family in your thoughts and you are more likely to find a way to get through the worst.