I recently sent out an email asking people on my mailing list for a simple “yes” or “no” response to the following question: Is it hard for you to talk about money with your spouse or partner?
I got hundreds of replies. But buried in those replies was one that I found particularly difficult to read:
“The answer is YES! It is hard, because it often feels defensive. She spent too much. He spent too much. Was that aligned with our values? What are our values? How come there isn’t more? And if only she would spend less, then I wouldn’t have to work so hard. :)”
And now, drumroll please, the part of that message that made it so hard to read: “From, The Spouse.”
In other words, my spouse.
I have to admit that upon reading that, I was discouraged. There was even a part of me that felt a little bit like a fraud. Who am I to be talking to other people about money if my own wife feels this way?
But I also need to admit that she’s right. It’s challenging for us to talk about money. It’s hard to talk to our parents about it. It’s hard to talk to our children about it. It’s hard to talk to our siblings, too. Whether we have more or less than average or than our close family members, any back-and-forth often feels defensive on both sides.
And you know what? That’s O.K.
This, my friends, is one of the keys to talking about money: knowing that it’s going to be hard. Sometimes, it’s going