As you can imagine, I’ve done a lot of work with couples who had differing views on money. There are plenty of approaches available to mitigate the tension although as we all know issues about money are rarely issues about Money! Usually it is issues about accountability to one another, or resistance to it; it was about comfort and discomfort around debt or risk; it was about security or insecurity.
The good news for couples with different ways of handling money is it usually means there are a distinct skill sets also being brought to the table. In fact, differing viewpoints, when combined, often led to a stronger economic unit than when two parties were, say, equally blind-eye to issues or both had a lop-sided approach. While similar approaches may have led to harmony, the bank book often suffered.
Here’s one easy exercise for couples with differing ways of handling money.
1. Each person should have a paper and pen (and perhaps a bottle of wine will help!) and sit down together.
2. Take ten minutes individually to write out your respective partner’s strengths. Not weaknesses! Genuine strengths. If your partner really angers you about money, you may need to dig deep here. Is it possible his spending brings more fun into your family life? Is it possible her control-freakiness is in fact keeping you out of peril? Is it possible her generosity is something you love in other facets of your life together? Is it possible his higher-risk investments have yielded, or might yield, a far better future for you?
3. After writing them out, read them aloud to one another. This could be the first time in a long time your partner has heard something positive about them re: money from you! Above all, do not blow it by injecting any subtle or not-subtle biting comments. Keep it 100% positive.
4. Then, take all the strengths and combine them in a list. Read and re-read that list. This is what you have to work with, as an Economic Unit.
5. Place that list somewhere visible. Don’t lose track of it. You ARE an economic unit. This list can become your play-book.