Feel like responsibility for your shared finances isn’t as evenly-distributed as you’d like? Here are tips for getting your partner more involved.
Understand their point of view
There could be a number of reasons why your partner seems hesitant to play a part in managing your finances. If they’ve never managed money on their own before, they may not think it’s something they can handle. A past money mistake could make them doubt their ability to make good financial decisions.
In some cases, your partner may simply have no interest in handling money. They trust you, and don’t feel a need to play a more active role. Or, they may assume you don’t need their help if you’ve never discussed it.
A good way to break the ice before launching into a full-fledged money discussion is asking them why they haven’t been more hands-on before. This is an opportunity for them to share their feelings, and perhaps open the door to a more in-depth discussion about finances.
Be clear about what you need
While it’s helpful to understand your partner’s perspective, it’s equally important to make sure they understand what you need, in terms of their support and help.
If you’re not sure what that help looks like, ask yourself:
- What budgeting or financial tasks am I most comfortable with?
- Which tasks would I like my partner to handle?
- What level of involvement do I need my partner to have to feel like we’re sharing the load fairly?
- What emotional benefit would their help offer — for example, would it make you feel less frustrated or anxious?
Asking these kinds of questions can help you understand what you want, as well as set clear expectations about your roles when it comes to managing the money. The answers can help your partner better understand where you’re coming from, and how to lighten your budgeting burden.
Find out what motivates your partner
For some people, discussing their finances is exciting. For others, it can be boring, or even frustrating — number-crunching and spreadsheets aren’t very glamorous. If your partner seems to tune you out when you broach the topic of money, find a way to grab their attention in a positive way.
For example, let’s say your partner has a competitive streak. You could use a challenge to engage them. Maybe it’s finding a way to save an extra $100 in spending per month, or paying off $1,000 in debt in the next eight weeks.
Don’t use tactics that might push your partner away, such as nagging, complaining or guilt trips. The goal is to encourage them to make a positive association with finances, rather than a negative one.
Pick your battles
Money talks can easily lead to fights if you and your partner disagree about things like savings, repaying debt, or setting boundaries on spending.
Fighting about money can put a strain on your relationship if feelings of frustration or anger go unresolved, or if one partner feels like they’re not being heard or respected.
Setting expectations and boundaries becomes vital. You can eliminate confusion or miscommunication if you work together to create ground rules for making decisions about money.
For instance, you might set a weekly personal spending amount, but agree to discuss any purchases over $500 before buying.
If your partner strays from the formula, resist the urge to nitpick. Everyone makes mistakes. Exercising patience can keep finances and budgeting from becoming a source of relationship stress.
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