With the COVID crisis being what it is, a lot of people are under financial stress. You might have lost a job. Or maybe things have just slowed down enough that money is not coming in like usual. In any case, talking finances is hard to begin with. Talking with your partner about money can be difficult. So it could be an even more intimidating subject if the added stress of COVID is piling on. Here are some thoughts on dealing with money with your partner.
Talk about What You are Afraid of
There is a lot of uncertainty that goes along with this situation. You have no clue if or when things will go back to their old rhythm. And with uncertainty comes fear and anxiety. Financial fears have a way of spiraling if we let them. And that spiral could easily lead to being reactive when you bring up the subject with your partner.
So part of things is to make sure that you are taking care of yourself well. Make sure that you are keeping up with any skills, hobbies, or activities that help you relax. But also make sure that you are talking with your partner about what your financial fears are. You do not want to underestimate the value of your partner being able to share that weight with you. Your partner has no opportunity to be supportive if they do not know what is getting to you.
Start the Conversation Softly
Conversations tend to go the way that they start. The beginning of an interaction sets the tone for how you can expect the conversation to go. If you know that a topic is going to be difficult, be sure that you avoid any blaming, criticizing, or harsh comments.
You will want to preface things before bringing up the conversation. Mention that it might be difficult to talk about money, because you are feeling scared lately. Ask for patience if you think that you might need it. Be ready to talk more about what you are feeling emotionally if things start to feel out of control.
Attend to emotions during these talks first. Think about it terms of priorities. You want to make sure that the two of you are able to talk through you are feeling first if your relationship is more important than money. Otherwise, any talk about money is going to fall apart if the foundation is shaky. Here is a helpful worksheet on keeping conversations soft instead of harsh.
I can not emphasize this enough, but you will want to go slow. The discussion will not go well if you come in hot and try to solve the problem immediately. Approaching the situation as urgent will not go well for two reasons. First, Urgency puts us on edge. It is harder to keep our cool. Second, speed is only your friend when one person is making a decision. If you go too fast, one person is more likely to take the lead. And if you feel like you did not have equal say in a decision, you will be more likely to feel resentment later on.
If you are looking for help handling the touchy subjects, give The Marriage & Family Clinic a call.
About the Author
Ryan Hicks is a licensed therapist and marriage counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in working with couples in high conflict and working with couples in the LGBTQ community. When he’s not working with couples, you’ll find him rock climbing or taking in the great outdoors of Colorado