Let’s Talk About Money

Hello, Karen,

My husband and I are pretty good about dealing with most of the issues that come up in our marriage, but one that is just a disaster, and something we just have not found a way to navigate well, is money.  What can you suggest I do, so that it works better for us?  Thanks for any light you can shed on this subject. — Anonymous

Hi Anon,

This topic is very challenging for most people…do you notice how we’ll talk about sex, about politics, about things we’ve done that were embarrassing, but the subject of money is TABOO?

We all have our own attitudes, beliefs and expectations around money that we learn from our families (usually) and – of course – we bring them into our relationships with our partners.

Unfortunately, many people approach their mates from a place of being right about their beliefs, their expectations, etc., about finances, which automatically means that if their sweetheart isn’t “on board”, they’re…wrong!).


When two people are doing that in a relationship, there isn’t much room to create what you would both want to have, because there isn’t enough safety to even explore the conversation, never mind to engage in building a future that you both want.

Create Safety

Before you launch into solving your financial situation, you want to make sure you’re both feeling safe, loved, and inspired to take on this (often) challenging area.

Let’s talk about some of the things you can do, so you and your man can be more successful in your financial life together (and you’ll notice that you could substitute any other often-challenging topic: s-e-x; child-rearing; blended families; aging parents).

These are not in any particular order – they’re all important:

  1. Be curious about what your man wants, believes, expects, and/or fears, when it comes to money.  By being curious, you can maintain a less attached attitude and just be with him where he is, and hear what he’s telling you.  You could learn a lot by doing this!
  2. Be willing to see any place where you are – perhaps – being a bit controlling, judgmental, or “right”, in your approach to the subject of money, and work on softening your stance.
  3. Try to know the difference between what is aligned with your true values, and what you’ve “inherited” from your family as far as what you “should” be doing, wanting, etc. in your financial life.  It’s quite common to have our “shoulds” come from our parents (or other influences in our early years) that we don’t even really agree with, deep down.
  4. Try to respect the things that may be issues for your man that you can’t relate to (for instance, Craig has kids from his first marriage, and he feels – even after all these years – a lot of pain and guilt, which at times has resulted in his making money decisions that caused challenges for us).
  5. Use third-party tools to open up the subject of money, so your “stuff” can stay out of the exploration – at least in the beginning.  Craig and I read a fabulous book that launched us into talking about money in a way we never had before: “The Number” by Lee Eisenberg.  We also attended a powerful weekend seminar called “The Millionaire Mind Intensive” that helped both of us see beliefs that interfered with our financial success.
  6. Be gentle with yourself and with him, and keep remembering that you’ve both been doing the best you knew how to do…and that you’re ready to make some changes that will be more productive in the area of money.
  7. Be in agreement about when and where you’re going to talk about this subject, and make sure your relationship is in a good, connected place (so, if it’s been a while since you had s-e-x, you may want to think about taking care of that first!).
  8. Don’t expect to get this all figured out in one sitting; keep your “meeting” productive and positive.  Agree to end when you need a break, but only after agreeing to pick it up again – soon (setting the date for the next talk is best, if possible).

In Conclusion

If you keep in mind that this is a process, that you are both always doing your best (even in those moments when you just “know” that it’s not his best – or yours), and always hold your relationship as the highest priority, you can successfully navigate the (potentially turbulent) waters, as you sail into a financially sound future together.