When did you last ask your spouse about the state of your finances? No one is reading this over your shoulder, so just be honest with yourself. Wives, when did you last ask what your husband’s goals and aspirations were? Husbands, when did you last look your wife in the eye and ask if she feels financially secure?
Photo Credit: Rodion Kutsaev (Unsplash)
Let’s look at it another way: How would you feel if your spouse asked you the same question?
I pose this question whether your accounts are together or separate. Topics like this can be difficult to bring up, but the potential for growth as a couple shouldn’t be overlooked.
For example, think about how you would feel if your spouse came home today and asked you any of the following:
Do you feel valued by me?
Do you feel respected by me?
Do you think I’m leading our family well? (Bonus points to Dontae Harris for asking me this question recently. Love that man.)
How can I build you up better?
How can I make your day easier?
Most women have a deeply rooted desire for security. When we hit the panic button after the savings account takes a hit, and we round on you, inside we’re really saying, “Are we safe? Are we going to be OK?”
Ladies, men desperately want you to believe in them. When they shut down after you’ve lobbed their failures back into their face, what they really want to know is, “Do you believe I can lead us?”
The reason I thought to write this challenge is because of my recent coaching session. The husband and wife are going through job loss and it has put a serious strain on their marriage.
I asked each of them to describe, in turn, how this whole situation made them feel. The husband said, “If I could just make money again, all of these problems would go away.” The wife said something similar. However, it didn’t take very long for them to turn on each other, exchanging words of frustration, bitterness, arguing, and so on.
I raised my hand to settle the debate and said, “You can both see that this isn’t just about making money.” I tightly interlocked my fingers and said, “Marriage and finances are fused together. It’s never just one or the other.” I translated their words back to each other, saying that, from where I sat, it sounded like the wife yearned for a feeling of security and the husband longed for her to believe he could find work again and provide for their family. They didn’t disagree.
I am not a licensed marriage counselor. Thankfully, this couple (and many others I’ve seen) meets regularly with a talented and wonderful counselor. Sometimes the marriage counselors refer people to me, telling couples that it’s not just a marriage problem, but financial. Is it any wonder that marriage counselors and financial coaches so often work with the same clients?
(I have personally received pre-marital and financial counseling in the past, so I understand the tremendous impact this type of help can have.)
What’s the alternative to NOT asking?
I believe we miss several tremendous opportunities when we forgo routine financial check-ups with our spouse. I say they’re financial, but by now you understand that we are talking about the condition of each other’s hearts. These conversations go way deeper than dollars.
We miss the chance to learn from our spouse. I read a powerful quote recently that sums up this concept so beautifully:
We keep from spiraling out of control. It’s much easier to feed a bad habit when no one else knows about it, isn’t it? When I was a kid, I used to occasionally sneak into my mother’s pantry and eat a spoonful of powdered sugar. Mom, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry for all the dental bills.
I wouldn’t have done such a thing if someone else was in the room. Asking your spouse about the finances is a way of keeping someone in the room when you’re tempted to raid the sugar. It’s a long and tough road to financial freedom. Don’t go it alone.
We miss the opportunity to lead by example. If you have children, they’re watching. If you have friends, they’re watching. If your parents are still living, they’re definitely watching. You don’t have to announce to the world that you’ve just had a financial pow-wow with your spouse, but when there is financial peace in your home, it resonates in your demeanor, your conversations, and your attitude when you’re out and about. Misery may love company, but joy is infectious.
My coaching session made me stop and think, do I know what my husband needs? When was the last time I asked him? When do couples have discussions like that?
I know what the answer is for me: When someone challenges me to.
My challenge to you is to take time this week to ask your spouse how he or she feels about the finances. Put down your phone or pause the TV. Set the clock for 10 minutes. Sit together and look each other in the eye. Ask. Then, listen.
Join the Discussion: What’s one financial topic you enjoy talking about with your spouse?