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Not talking about finances is one of the biggest money mistakes couples can make. It’s important to learn how to talk about it.

As I contemplated hiding my new, had-to-have riding boots from my husband (until the time was “right” to tell him about my mini-shopping-spree), I had second thoughts.

While there were times we didn’t see eye-to-eye about money, experience taught us that if we avoided the issue, it only made things worse. I recently learned that’s the case in a lot of relationships.

Sure, every couple disagrees about finances once in a while—an average of five times a year. But couples who have disagreements about money as often as once a week may be over 30 percent more likely to get divorced than couples who disagree about finances a few times a month.

Research tells us that most couples find it easier to talk about sex than money. But not talking about finances is one of the biggest money mistakes couples can make. When you think about it, money affects nearly every aspect of a relationship.

So it’s important to learn how to talk about it like adults—using our “inside voices.”

Here are 5 tips to keep in mind:

  1. Money conversations fall into six key categories. Be sure to discuss all of them – often.
  2. If the same money issues keep popping up, look below the surface. Arguments often appear to be about dollars and cents; but there may be more to them, like power struggles, commitment issues, ego or lack of respect.
  3. Learn from other people’s mistakes – like those who’ve gone through a divorce. One of the biggest regrets of divorcees is: Not talking about money.
  4. Be honest with yourself and with each other.
  5. Reflect on your values and what’s driving your money decisions. Use discussions as a tool to bring you closer together.    

Experts agree that financial conflict is stronger, longer lasting and predicts divorce better than other marital issues. If that’s the case, one financial therapist raises a poignant question all couples may want to ask themselves:

If you truly love someone and you know that finances are the No. 1 thing that people argue about—and can break up a marriage–why wouldn’t you want to have the courage to open up to each other?

Good question. If you agree, and you’d like to work on your communication skills, here are some tips to get you started—or to help you get even better—at talking about the “m” word.

Above all, don’t give up hope! Some couples have come back from the brink of divorce because they made a conscious effort to stop making mistakes. So talk to your spouse and make improvements in the way you communicate. Every step you take can help make your marriage even stronger!