Marriage and Money Tip #2: Communicating With Your Partner

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I’ve heard that couples divorce for three main reasons:

  1. Infidelity

  2. Communication struggles

  3. Money

Money frequently plays a role in a couple’s communication struggles as well, so financial issues can end up being a major contender in the battles couples face as they try to succeed in marriage.

It is possible to remove the “teeth” from financial clashes and make communication about money easier. We can learn how to communicate well, interact safely and patiently with our spouses, and work our way out of tense places when it comes to financial matters.

Tip #1: The Open Palm

Last week I gave you a simple tip about opening your hands and setting them on your lap when you’re talking about finances with your spouse. This is something I encourage couples to do when they’re sitting in my office, and I can tell emotions are rising.

When you’re trying to have a money conversation with your spouse and things are getting dicey, this can help keep emotions calm on both sides:

  1. Breathe.

  2. Place your hands in your lap with your palms turned up, and sit that way for the rest of the conversation.

The open palm is a posture of surrender. It doesn’t automatically solve the problem, of course, but it increases the likelihood of good communication. It can help two people learn to relax with each other as they discuss a necessary but sensitive topic.

Tip #2: The Timeout Signal

This week I want to give you another tip for practicing good financial communication with your spouse:

When a conversation is getting intense and you need to take a step back, consider using some kind of hand gesture to let your spouse know it’s time for a momentary break.

This might sound corny, but when we were first married, my wife and I had a special signal we used when we needed to take a break from discussing a financial matter. We have since learned how to communicate the same need just by looking at each other, but back in the day, we needed a signal.

“Dawna,” I said, “if I feel myself getting angry, I’m going to do a timeout sign.”

If you’ve watched American football, you’ve probably seen this signal. Players and coaches motion for a timeout by forming a “T” shape with their hands.

“If I make that sign, I need a timeout,” I told her.

Both of us agreed to this arrangement. Dawna understood that if I used this signal, I wasn’t being a jerk—I was just saying I needed to step away and cool down a little bit.

The timeout gesture is a very simple thing, but it worked for us. If heat started to rise in the kitchen but nobody was cooking—we knew we needed to take a break from talking about money.

Perhaps the timeout gesture would work well for you and your spouse. Or if not that specific signal, what other gesture could you use as a nonaggressive way of saying it’s time to take a step back and calm down?

If money is a tense topic for you and your spouse, may the grace of God fill your home, and may this be a month of abundant breakthrough for you. I hope these simple tips I’m sharing pay dividends in improving the communication in your marriage.

 

To read more about money and finding freedom for your soul, check out the following articles:

Lauren Stinton