Even in today’s world of automated budgeting software and other sophisticated technology, money remains a hot button topic for many couples. There are usually types of people in a marriage: one spouse who enjoys managing money, and another spouse who is care free. Dave Ramsey refers to these roles, respectively, as “the nerd” and “the free spirit.” What do you do if you’re the nerd in your relationship and you find that your spouse won’t talk about money with you?
This may leave you feeling like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. After all, life is full of many competing demands, and managing your money is just one of them. It can be incredibly hard to go it alone and be the family Chief Financial Officer without any input or support.
Maybe you’ve tried to get your spouse on board with managing your family’s finances. It’s possible that you’ve even read books or taken courses to try to prove to your spouse that your finances are important. And your spouse still won’t talk about money without becoming distant or angry.
If this is you, I’m here to tell you there is hope! Do not give up!
Keys to Getting a Reluctant Spouse to Talk About Money
I don’t have all the answers, but my experience as a husband, “the nerd,” and school teacher/administrator have provided a wealth of experience in mitigating conflict and bringing them to lasting resolution.
They key to finally getting your spouse to talk about money with you and ultimately get on the same page with you lies in the development of mutual understanding, respect, and teamwork. Read on to see how you can implement steps to improve these aspects of your relationship!
Know Your Spouse’s Dreams
If your spouse won’t talk about money or other important matters without becoming disconnected or irritable, it could be a sign that you’re lacking connection in other areas as well.
When was the last time you and your spouse laughed together? When did you last discuss your hopes and dreams for the future? When was the last time you really blocked out other distractions and focused on each other?
A long time ago, I learned an important lesson reading several books by Dale Carnegie:
People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.
If you’re the type that plans out a budget, sits down with your game face on, and is ready to share your brilliant plans with your spouse before you do anything else, expect failure. I know this to be true because I’ve been there.
When I learned to listen to my wife’s feelings, ask her about her day, and form an emotional connection with her before talking about money, she stopped resenting our financial conversations and grew to look at them as times in which we connected and discussed our hopes and dreams for the future.
I can also tell you that a powerful thing happens when you have an understanding of your spouse’s dreams: it becomes much easier to talk about money as a tool to help you reach those dreams. Now we know that we won’t be able to bring her dreams and mine into reality unless we remain on the same page with money.
Start Small and Appreciate the Little Victories
If your spouse won’t talk about money matters currently, it is important that you realize that this isn’t likely to change over night. You need to be patient! It will be far easier for you to change your mindset than it will be you to change your spouse’s mindset.
The best way to begin having productive money discussions with spouse is by introducing healthy discussion gradually. You might mention an interesting tip you recently read, mention your desire to plan a family vacation, or just happen to be playing your favorite debt free scream YouTube video when your spouse walks in the room.
The point is that you need to ease into financially-related conversation in a gentle, non-threatening manner. And the best way to do that is by talking about money topics that don’t involve either of you.
Continue to Set a Good Example
While you are working on building a base of healthy money conversation, maintain your own good habits with money. If you keep a monthly budget, make sure it stays up to date. Continue to do everything you can to manage your family’s money responsibly. Even if your spouse won’t talk about money, it is likely that he or she will notice your good attitude and actions.
Remember, according to basic learning theory, we learn better when we are shown how to do something verses being told how to do something. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, your example is being noticed and it is is making a difference.
What Not To Do If Your Spouse Won’t Talk About Money
The unfortunate reality is that it can be incredibly frustrating if your spouse won’t talk about money with you. If he or she continues to do his or own thing with money, it might make you angry. You might even begin to lose some trust in your spouse.
You may want to throw in the towel, hit the mall for some retail therapy, or trade in your set of wheels for something newer.
Remember that it is always easier to justify emotions than to justify actions. If you give in now, you’re damaging any good will that has been building up in this area. It is far better for you to continue to do things yourself the right way than to give up.
Keeping yourself from acting on your emotions may cause a blow up at some point. Do your best to avoid yelling or displaying anger. The truth is it won’t help.
No Name Dropping
The odds are high that your spouse won’t talk to you about money because he or she has felt attacked in the past. As tempting as it may be, don’t bring outside names into your discussion. Avoid mentioning your spouse’s parents (or your own) at all costs.
This is not the time to mention an article from a finance blogger you read or bring out the “Dave Ramsey says” tool kit. Appeals to authority are rarely effective during money fights. In fact, they’re a good way to ensure your spouse won’t talk about money for a long time!
Where to Turn If You Really Need Help
When many couples are on the brink of divorce, counseling is often a last resort. Please don’t misunderstand me: I am in NO WAY insinuating your money fights are this serious. However, if you and your spouse can agree to work together, a money intervention could be the thing you need to get on the same page.
If your spouse agrees to work with you, I recommend you check out the ONLY online personal finance course I endorse: Budgeting for Budget Haters.
This couples-friendly course is designed by my friend Adam Hagerman, a certified financial planner (CFP) and accredited financial counselor, and is designed to help couples (and singles, too) achieve financial freedom.
When you sign-up Adam will personally help you:
- Gather the right information needed to create your budget
- Set smart financial goals and use them to avoid the debt/savings roller coaster
- Create an annual budget and plan like you’ve never planned before
- Budget for periodic expenses
- Budget for the fun stuff and incorporate guilt-free spending
- Budget with a variable income
- Prioritize debt repayment
- Use budgeting software (with on screen instructions!)
- Talk money with your honey
- Set up your budget so it requires low maintenance
- And much more!
I’ve personally reviewed Budgeting for Budget Haters and feel it is one of the best step-by-step money courses today. If you want access to a top professional who will walk you through every step of the way, Budgeting for Budget Haters is for you!
You can try the course out 100% risk free for 60 days. If you’re not satisfied after completing all of the forms and related course steps, Adam offers a 60-Day Money Back Guarantee.
If you’re serious about Taking Back Control of Your Life and Money, sign-up for Budgeting for Budget Haters today using our link for FinanceSuperhero readers and secure your spot in the course for only $97 (or two monthly payments of $57).
Do you have a spouse who won’t talk about money (or other touchy topics)? What tips do you have for managing this kind of difficult communication?