A model, that brings both safety and respect for both partners in communicating about money, is the Couple’s Dialogue from Imago Relationship Therapy (see Blog entitled Couples’ Difficulties in Communication).
You are not solving problems about finances at this point. The purpose is for both of you to listen to each other without judgment or blame. The most important thing is having empathy for your partner (putting yourself in your partner’s place). Later on, once both are heard and understood, solutions can be proposed.
Some topics to talk about:
- When I think about money, what comes up for me is . . .
- My greatest concern about money is . . .
- The messages I received about money growing up (you can use your multigenerational family tree from Part 1) are . . . How I think these have affected my view about money personally and in our relationship is . . .
- I mainly identify with the ‘money personality type’ (see Part 1) . . . How I think this affects you and our relationship is . . .
- What I like about myself in handling money is . . . What I would like to change is . . .
- What I admire in the way you, my partner, handles money is . . .
- One thing that bothers me about how you handle money is . . . What this says about me is . . . My greatest fear about this is . . .
- One thing that I think bothers you about how I handle money is . . . What I say to myself about your fears or concerns around this are . . .
Notice how important it is to stay as the ‘compassionate visitor’ as you give your partner the ‘gift’ of expressing her/himself fully, being listened to even if you disagree. Money is a very delicate, highly charged issue. Please do not think your partner does not ‘love’ you because it is hard to change. This is more about your partner than about you. You are learning about each other’s views and struggles around money.
In my next Blog, I will share with you some practical tips for handling money as a couple. Please let me know what other couple’s issues you would like me to write about.
Ann Klein – Columbia Marriage and Relationship Counseling teaching couples effective communication skills to resolve conflicts, reestablish intimacy, and restore caring and connection in their relationships.