When couples have conversations about money, it often leads to disagreements, defensiveness, and arguments. Why is it so difficult to talk about finances?
JANINE: Early in our marriage, Ken wanted to put most of our money into retirement accounts. Growing up, the only thing I ever heard my Dad talk about investing in was the family farm - where he could at least have SOME control of his investment. When Ken mentioned words like mutual funds, it sounded risky and confusing to me. I felt lost. My fears and my confusion about all the financial lingo made it difficult to listen to Ken.
I decided if we were ever going to be able to talk about our finances in a healthy way, I needed to listen in a different way. When I set aside my feelings and tried to listen with an open mind, I was able to hear the fear and insecurity underneath Ken's words. He grew up in a single parent home with little money. He said he felt pressured to provide for our present and future needs, and didn't want me to worry about money. I finally realized it wasn't an issue of money or materialism. He was genuinely concerned about our well-being.
KEN: Years back, when Janine would talk about buying something, I'd often shoot down her ideas as not necessary. One day, she told me she felt apprehensive about talking with me about purchases, and gradually her apprehension was building into resentment. Wow, I hadn't realized how I had been shutting her down, and the effect it was having. My priority of saving for our retirement apparently wasn't the top thing on Janine's list. Once we got our feelings out in the open, we had a great discussion about finding a balance - living and enjoying today as well as saving for the future.