Let’s talk about money, shall we?
With tax day just behind us, it only seems appropriate to connect around this topic. Particularly because it is, after all, the No. 1 topic that couples avoid talking about. What did you think it was? If asked the question, most people think that the most avoided topic in marriage is, of course, sex. That’s not the case.
Even if you have been married just a year or two, I want you to talk and think about money. And I want you to do so because it’s significant that you both know where you stand on the question of finances. I also want you to be aware that quantity doesn’t matter at all. And, as long as you live, the question of money will be one to come up again and again, sometimes with warning and other times with none.
People have all kinds of ideas about how money should be handled, whether or not it should be talked about at all. We walk into our relationships expecting for things to just fall into place in some sort of magic way, and when that doesn’t happen, we end up disappointed at best, frustrated at worst.
Did you or did you not witness any discussions around money in your family growing up? What was the general result? Was it a conversation you wanted to participate in and (perhaps) learn from or was it instead an endeavor that you wanted to run away from at all cost?
Whose role was it to make financial decisions? Were your parents on the same page about things most of the time or never? Do you talk about it? Do you never talk about it? Can only one person bring it up? IS it a taboo?
This list is not exhaustive. Please know that. I bring these questions up because it is as a direct result of these (and numerous other questions) around the topic of money that you and I have come to believe what we believe about the value of money & the communications around it. Therefore, I advise you as a couple to sit down, on a regular basis, and talk about this.
Yes, it’s true- it doesn’t matter whether you have money coming out your ears, or whether you are struggling short- or long-term financially, the amount of money that you have (or don’t have) at your disposal will not predict how successful you will be in terms of dealing with it. Whether you are trying to go at it alone or with a partner or spouse – it’s all the same.
So, don’t be fooled to think that because you don’t have a lot of money (or have a ton of it), this point doesn’t concern you. Because it concerns EVERYONE. I am not kidding.
Some would say that the happiest people have much less money than the people we would expect to be happiest. So, beware.
When you first met, it was talking about who pays for dinner. Remember those days? Maybe you took a few trips together – did you divide it up equally? Did one of you pay for everything?
When you got engaged, it was about who pays for the wedding. Who makes decisions about who pays for the wedding. And let’s not forget the honeymoon.
When you had your first child, you had to figure out who stays home and for how long and who stays in the work-force full-time. You had to figure out how childcare would be covered – do you have family in town? Do you want to be creative with your childcare needs? Do you have flexibility at all in any of this?
After that, it’s school – do we send the little ones to public school? Private school? What difference does it make? Once you get through that, it’s college. Your kids’ travel. Your own travel. And sprinkle all the little discussions about things like taxes, weekly/monthly spending, preferences, vacations, gifts, clothing, property, investments, toys (big or small) – It literally NEVER ends.
You get what I am saying. The topic of money in marriage is not going anywhere. As long as you are in relationship with another person, money will be a part of it in one way or another.
The way I look at it, if you haven’t started talking about money, it would be well worth your while. And if the first conversation doesn’t go so well, know that it’s pretty common. Practice makes perfect. And the more you know, the better you can figure this money piece our together – and the better for you both.
Because, in the end, don’t you both want to get along better? Be more open about things in life that matter? Be on the same side/team and act accordingly?
I knew it.
There’s lots of advice out there on how to give an apology that has lasting impact: an apology that results in a restored relationship. Whether the process requires four steps, or eight steps, one of the things that rings most true to me is the need to own your responsibility for the injury you caused the other person.
In preparation for an upcoming Marriage Retreat, I recently watched this clip from a fellow Marriage & Family counselor based in Utah. The five steps Julie outlines provide an excellent framework for apologizing:
5 Steps to a Powerful Apology
I don’t know about you, but when I look at this list, the one that really sticks in the throat is right there on the top of the list:
own. your. part.
I couldn’t agree more — all good apologies must include owning your part, but the big question we so often face is this:
HOW? How do you do that?
How do you say “I’m sorry, I know that I did [fill in the blank – AKA – that cruddy thing you did]” and leave it at that? Is it even realistic not to discuss the reasons for your actions?
It seems to me that there are two aspects to owning our part that we need to see clearly in order to be able to do just that — own our part.
First, all the rest of the steps flow out of number one.
If we don’t start with owning our part, we cannot accurately show the person that we understand the way it’s hurt them. If we don’t own our part then we won’t be able to show empathy. And so it goes for each step in the process of reconciliation.
Second, the bottom line is, an apology is about reconciling.
Part of what we need to do is reckon with the fact that an apology is about reconciling and NOT about being understood. This willingness to put the other person first and help them feel understood is at the heart of an apology that will be well-received by the person you’ve hurt.
Not only should “being understood” be saved for another conversation, but frequently the need to feel understood evaporates with reconciliation — highlighting the fact that sometimes our “need” to be understood is more about defending ourselves in a moment of conflict than about actually experiencing fundamental misunderstanding.
Every apology needs to move from owning our part to full reconciliation, but today — take some time to think about that person (you know who) with whom you recently had conflict. Imagine what it would look like to acknowledge your part and leave it at that. Period. It might just be the beginning of a wonderful new relationship.