Before A Money Conversation
Money conversations are often reactive and stressful. You are talking about something that has a direct link to a sense of security. Security is a core survival need. If you imagine it is threatened, you can easily become emotionally flooded and move into a fight, flight, or freeze mode. There are at least two basic ways to avoid sliding into this emotional flood about money.
First, before you even begin to talk about money, create a sense of security with your partner. A sense of security can be created just by affirming out loud that you are team. You might say something like this to your partner, "I want you to know that I care about your needs and I am committed to staying in respectful and mindful dialogue with you until we can find ways that both our needs our needs can be met."
Hearing these words can go a long way for a partner that is verbally oriented. A more kinesthetically oriented partner might hear the same message through physical affection. A hug or holding hands before and during the money conversation can contribute to a sense of security and partnership.
A second way to set up a money conversation for success is to take the time to really understand what each of you are bringing to the conversation. This might include each of you taking time on your own to reflect on what has influenced your relationship to money in the years before you met, beginning as far back as your childhood.
As you take time to reflect, you could jot down 3 or 4 significant experiences with money from each stage of life: childhood, adolescence, and your adult years before meeting your partner. For each of these experiences, you can ask key questions like: What was positive & negative? What belief about money did I form based on this experience? How is this experience influencing my relationship with money today?
After each of you has done this on your own, set up a time to share your reflections. If you are in a particularly tender or reactive place with each other, it would likely be better to have one person share on one day and choose another day for the other to share. This prevents comparison and defensiveness. Before sharing make an agreement to offer a curious listening in which you might ask clarifying questions, but there is no attempt to analyze or diagnose current problems based on what you hear. The purpose of the sharing is to create an empathic understanding of what each of you are bringing to a money conversation.
This week talk with your partner about setting up a time to practice either creating a sense of security just before a money conversation or taking time reflect on the history with money you bring to the present and sharing that with your partner.