When it comes to relationships, money and sex have a lot in common.
As many of us know, money and sex are two of the top reasons couples fight and break up.
We’re constantly surrounded by money and sex: in advertising, social media, culture, and just about anywhere else you can think of.
We want more of both, but at the same time, we don’t talk openly about either.
Are money and sex taboo topics for you?
Talking openly about money or sex in public could risk rejection, shaming or embarrassment…even though they’re two topics on everyone’s minds.
When we carry this taboo about talking about money or sex into our intimate relationships, it becomes a real problem.
Different needs and desires clash when it comes to what we want for our bank account and in the bedroom.
We must learn and practice how to communicate when it feels awkward or risky.
Not talking about our thoughts, fears and dreams is like a leaky roof…
Hear me out.
By the time we realize our roof is leaking, there’s already a lot of damage and the cost of repair is going to be a lot higher than it would have been if we’d maintained the roof in the first place.
That’s why I’ve put together some tools to help you talk about money issues with your partner to help strengthen and support your intimate relationship.
We’ve also written about love, money, and the steps you can take to enhance your relationship with your partner when it comes to discussing these topics. You’ll find that here.
So, how do we go about initiating an uncomfortable conversation with a partner about money or sex?
Talking to your partner about money or sex starts by being vulnerable.
It’s all about the necessity of being vulnerable, which is something most of us never learned how to do.
Brené Brown, social work researcher and author said, “Our inability to be vulnerable makes us weak.”
Unless we can be our true selves with a partner, we will lie, avoid and hide from ourselves and each other.
‘Financial infidelity’ describes the little and big lies we tell ourselves and our partners about money, such as cost of items.
We may say, “I got this on sale,” or hide our purchases, cover up our debts, etc.
At best, these lies erode intimacy and honesty between partners.
In more serious cases, it can compromise the financial wellbeing of relationships.
In order to have the “happily ever after” we dream of, we must accept discomfort in difficult conversations. (And by conversation, I mean face-to-face, not via text or email, which doesn’t provide any non-verbal cues).
Spending styles and money values.
You might start by finding out how your spending styles differ and having a discussion about where your values around money come from.
Often expectations and values around money are instilled by the family we grew up in.
Discuss what money represents to you and what you want it to do for your lives. Then see where you can come together to work as a team towards your mutual goals. When it comes to areas where your values or styles differ, explore compromises.
You may decide to get a neutral third-party involved (such as a certified financial planner or therapist) to help you work on problems you can’t resolve on your own.
Talking about money with your partner is one thing, but talking about money with your family is a whole different ball game, especially when it comes to estate planning. Here are some useful tips for discussing estate planning with your loved ones.
Set the stage to talk about money and sex with your partner as soon as possible.
For people who are single, dating, or in a new relationship, consider having some hard conversations about money (and sex) early on. This will set the stage for open communication throughout your relationship.
Learning about attitudes or experience with budgeting, prenuptial agreements, and separate bank accounts can be enlightening. Knowing about what debts a partner is bringing to a relationship can be critical later on.
Would you rather be aware or naïve about a partner’s gambling habit, expectations for vacations or other luxuries, or if money was a factor in a previous breakup?
The only way you can find out (and also gauge a person’s willingness to discuss honestly and openly) is to ask. At the same time, you need to be prepared to answer these questions for yourself.
To quote Brené Brown again: “Love takes courage. Be brave. Let yourself be seen.” Remember: this all starts with you!
Do you want to learn more about talking about money with your partner or family? Don’t miss these posts:
How to Avoid Financial Disagreements After Your Death
Estate Planning: Does Your Current Will Fulfill Your Wishes?
For Love and Money
MSW, Registered Social Worker, Certified Yoga Teacher
Kathleen's many years of facilitating groups for people coping with grief and loss evolved into offering groups, workshops and yoga for personal and relationship growth. "Yoga 4 the Rest of Us with Kathleen" is geared towards people with or without yoga experience who want to amplify the benefits of practicing a gentle, reflective style of yoga. Connect with her at www.kathleenpratt.ca.