When it comes to your relationship, working together as a team on your finances is critical. There can be real damage to a marriage because of money issues, so it’s vital that everyone is on the same page.
So what do you do when your spouse won’t participate in a budget and is reluctant to talk about money or finances? Unfortunately, I get asked this question a lot. It can be frustrating when your spouse won’t participate in the money discussion or even refuses to talk about money at all.
It makes it even harder when your spouse feels like your nagging them all the time about money, or they feel like you are trying to tell them what to do.
Before giving up hope that your spouse will ever get on board, you have to understand what’s really causing the issue. It’s important to realize that there are different reasons for conflict and money means different things to different people.
REASONS FOR CONFLICT
One of the most fundamental reasons for financial conflict is that, as husbands and wives, you come from different backgrounds.
You spend years shaping and honing your individual beliefs by watching the financial habits of your parents, friends, and mentors. This means that your perspective about money can set you apart from one another.
You might agree on the broad financial principles of finance such as debt reduction or the importance of saving money, but there can be considerable differences in how you interpret and apply those principles in everyday life.
Money means different things to each of us and how you handle it is a reflection of your beliefs. You have to find a way to bridge your differences and embrace teamwork. Working together on your finances and budgeting your money as a team is essential to the foundation of your marriage.
PLAN A MONEY DATE
The first challenge is opening up a discussion about your finances. It’s important to create a low-stressed environment and to open up the lines of communication.
During this meeting, nothing has to be decided. Use the time to simply talk about your financial goals as a family and why you want to achieve them.If you have been pushing your spouse to get on board with a budget, and you're only being met with resistance, it's time to change your approach. Click To Tweet
CHANGE THE DISCUSSION
Change your discussion from “me” to “we.” When talking to your spouse, make sure to word things in a way where budgeting is a “we” problem, not just a “me” problem. As a couple, you are a team, and your communication needs to reflect that. It’s crucial that your partner doesn’t feel alone in this journey.
Listen, don’t blame or lecture. Telling your spouse everything that they are doing wrong will only lead to more resistance. Saying things like, “You aren’t willing to budget, so you are ruining our finances.” or “You spend too much on [insert item here], and it’s making all of our money problems worse.” is not the right approach for a successful money conversation.
Instead of blaming or lecturing your spouse, lay out your financial picture and ask for help in approving the situation. Listen and work with your spouse to come up with a solution that addresses both of your concerns.
Change the way you approach talking about money. Don’t focus on the past on focus on moving forward.
CREATE A PLAN FOR REVIEW
After talking about your problems, it’s time to figure out what to do next. Make a financial plan of how you are going to get where you BOTH want to be financially.
Your spouse might be a little reluctant to put in the work, so you might have to step in and do some of the work yourself. Showing him your overall financial picture might be better than just telling him.
Put together your budget based on your income and current spending and ask him to take a look. You probably won’t have to say a thing. Your spouse will be able to see for themselves that there needs to be a financial change.
Once they can visually see the problem areas, it will be easier to get them on board with budgeting, getting out debt, and saving money.
Remember, you might see a reluctant spouse who doesn’t want to plan, but what you might be dealing with is a spouse who doesn’t feel involved in the situation. If your spouse feels like you are controlling all of the spending decisions, they might feel disconnected from the situation. This can be especially true if they feel like you are just giving them an allowance.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO TALK SPECIFICS
Instead of creating the plan, allocating the numbers, and telling your spouse how much he has to spend, make sure you agree on things together. No matter how hard you try, if you are vague with what you need to accomplish, your spouse will continue their regular spending habits.
If you took the intuitive of creating the budget because your spouse was not willing to participate, you need to be sure to include your spouse in every decision. Your budget and a plan will never work if there is no detailed information or agreed upon method for what is OK spending and what is not.
Creating a budget that you both agree on is crucial. Make sure to ask your spouse for help along the way and include in the decision-making process. By doing this, you are not asking him to do all of the work. You are mere including his thoughts in the plan.
YOU HAVE TO COMPROMISE
Even if you are the one who manages the money in the relationship, you won’t make nearly as much progress if you are going at it alone. Sometimes, that means you have to be willing to compromise.
What you might think is necessary for your budget, might not be the same as your spouse. Maybe they feel they need a little more “fun” money, and you think it’s an area where you need to cut back. Meet in the middle.
The concept of an “allowance” or “spending” money might be more comfortable for your spouse to accept if they feel like it’s an adequate amount. It can seem less restrictive when your spouse feels like they have enough set amount of cash every month to spend on things that they enjoy.
What if you have tried everything to get your spouse on board with a budget, and he still isn’t willing. I know that it can be super frustrating to be working so hard and not feeling supported.
When you come to this crossroads, you really only have two choices. You can give up altogether, or you can choose to take responsibility for the things you do have control over.
You can control YOUR spending and money decisions. You can still create a budget, and set a good example for your spouse. Over time, show them your progress and accomplishments.
Remember, you can still make a significant impact on your budget while still giving your spouse time to come around. By showing them positive progress and decisions over time, you will be giving them positive reminders that you want them to be included.
YOU CAN MAKE IT WORK
By focusing on things you can control (i.e., not your spouse), you can give them the space they need to come around to the idea of living on a budget. Make sure to keep the lines of communication open, be gracious and understanding with how you present the concept of budgeting, take responsibility for your own spending, and be patient while you wait for your spouse to jump on board.
Even when you have different financial habits, you can still work towards the same financial goals.