To kick off Women's Money Week 2017, #wmweek17, this article is dedicated to money in relationships.
For those of you who are excitedly and intentionally planning your 2017 wedding, I invite you to consider investing in the health and longevity of your MARRIAGE in the best way possible.
By knowing how to talk about the most taboo subject in relationships… …MONEY!
As the co-author of the forthcoming book Purposeful Prenups, I'm a strong advocate for all couples to have a prenuptial agreement conversation. Here are a few reasons why:
- Marriage is the most important, and least understood, contract you will enter in your life - and every contract must have an exit strategy.
- Whether you like it or not, there is no "happily ever after" when you get married.
- You already have a prenup – and it may not be at all what you want it to be. Check your state's laws!
My co-author, lawyer and author, Emily Chase Smith, and I are committed to showing couples how to have your prenup conversations in ways to strengthen your marriage, and bring you closer together as you learn how you can navigate ANY stressful, difficult topic with ease and respect.
We also want to save you from becoming another lousy statistic. You likely know that research shows that unresolved issues about money are cited as the most common cause of conflict in relationships, and as the number one cause of divorce. Our inability to have healthy, relationship-affirming conversations with each other about money causes ongoing dissatisfaction and unfortunate destruction.
Imagine for a moment that when you got engaged, you began to mix the cement that will be the foundation of your marriage. The cement mixture needs to have the correct blend of ingredients so that it has the ability to harden completely, and to last a long time - no matter what earthquakes or outside forces you encounter.
As your relationship's foundational is poured and begins to become solid, it's time to have your prenup conversation. You start out well, but when concerns get expressed, the mood turns dark, hurtful and confusing. You each become defensive and reactive. This is because each of your adaptive strategies for getting your needs met are clashing. These strategies are a group of behaviors called "money types". Understanding what triggers them and how to best communicate with each other when they arise is extremely helpful in navigating difficult money conversations.
For example, if one of you reacts in subtle passive/aggressive ways (a sarcastic comment; a hurtful look; or the ever popular "whatever"), that is most likely the "martyr" money type talking. If, on the other hand, one of you responds by getting offended, or pointing out flaws, debts, or other poor choices, chances are the "tyrant" money type is front and center. Left unchecked and misunderstood, your money types will cause you to lash out at each other. Unfortunately, when you do this, you plant multiple seeds of distrust and discontent in your wet cement.
Over time those seeds of hurt develop roots of resignation and resentment, and will cause cracks in your foundation. You will trip over them whenever you have a conversation about money in your marriage, and you will know it because the same complaints will arise, the same attacks will occur, and the same old patterns of relating will show up again and again.In an attempt to keep further damage from happening, most couples then resort to the seemingly logical, but highly detrimental, choice of avoiding the money conversations altogether.
Author and researcher, John Gottman, can predict with over 90% accuracy whether a couple will stay together or not, and one of the biggest predictors is what he calls the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and the worst offender, Stonewalling (aka avoidance).
All of these behaviors further damage your foundation by fertilizing those roots of resentment and resignation to go even deeper and make the cracks wider.
Emily Chase Smith and I want to give you an opportunity to never plant those seeds to begin with, so that your foundation is firm and strong and able to withstand the myriad of emotional traumas and challenges you will inevitably face together in your marriage. We want your union to be rock-solid so that you know, no matter what, you've got what it takes to stay connected, stay committed, and stay in love. We believe supporting you in knowing HOW to have your prenup conversation will greatly increase your chances for thriving in your relationship for the rest of your lives!
A Few Resources for Communicating effectively include: