One of the first things you should do before starting any financial journey is to get your spouse on board with change.
Whether your goals are to pay off all of your debt or simply to ensure that you have enough saved up for a comfortable retirement, it is imperative that your objectives are aligned with those of your spouse. With financial issues being the number one cause of divorce, it is vital that you and your spouse work together to build a solid financial future.
Sometimes, though, this can be easier said than done.
When I saw the financial light (so-to-speak) and began to imagine the freedom we would feel if my husband Mike and I paid off all of our debt, including our mortgage, all it took to get him on board was a simple conversation.
When he got home from work that day, I nervously explained my revelation and my excitement about paying off all of our debt. Then I waited for Mike to reply.
To my delight, Mike smiled and said, “Let’s do it!”
From there, we worked together to develop our plan of action and started dreaming together about what being completely debt free in a few years would allow for our future.
Unfortunately, not everyone will have such a smooth experience.
If you are ready to take control of your money, pay off your debt, and work toward true financial freedom but are worried that your spouse may be resistant, I have come up with some strategies that you can try to get him or her to jump onto the financial freedom bandwagon.
Please understand that the intention here is not about manipulating your spouse into agreeing with you. You simply want what is best for your future and the future of your family. You recognize that having a plan for your money can provide security, freedom, and opportunities; while living with a lack of intention regarding your finances may lead to a life of regret, uncertainty, and unnecessary stress.
Implement the pieces that you think will work for your situation, think positively, pray for guidance, and be prepared that it may take several conversations before your spouse fully commits.
Starting the Conversation
Once you have decided that a conversation about your financial future with your spouse is necessary, find a time when you can talk without any distractions. This may be after the kids have gone to bed in the evening or before they wake up on a Saturday morning.
Let your spouse know that you have something exciting you would like to get his or her input on. Explain that it is important and that you would appreciate their full attention.
If you lead with your excitement your spouse may be more open-minded to hearing you out.
Start by establishing some common ground for your conversation. Focus on the dreams that you and your spouse share and explain how taking control of your money can help to make those dreams a reality.
Avoid beginning the conversation with details that your spouse may be opposed to such as getting on a budget and tracking your spending. Instead, focus on the bigger picture and the direction of your financial future.
Focus on the Benefits
Explain why making a change is important to you. Focus on the benefits that being more intentional with your money will provide.
Discuss why taking this step and working together on a healthy financial plan is crucial and what it will do for your future. Share about the added security you will feel when you have a plan that will get you to your goals.
If your spouse has traditionally been the person in charge of handling your finances, let him or her know that you would like to be more involved.
Without criticizing your spouse or indicating blame, indicate how your current financial state has you feeling concerned for your future. This can be tricky so choose your words carefully or omit this part if you feel that your spouse may not react favorably.
Ask Your Spouse for Input
Ask how your spouse feels about having a financial plan and working together to create one.
This is where you stop and listen. Fight the urge to interrupt if his or her response is not the reply you were hoping for.
If he or she is on board and shares your excitement, then begin by getting clear on your dreams together and writing goals that can lead to achieving those dreams. Next, develop your plan for success.
What to Do If Your Spouse is Resistant
If your spouse is resistant, however, then it may be best to end the conversation. It is important to respect your spouse’s opinions and avoid turning the conversation into an argument.
If you feel your spouse is open to discussing further, then ask why he or she is hesitant. Listen and try to understand where your spouse is coming from. Put yourself in his or her shoes and appreciate how they feel.
Try to offer some ideas in response to your spouse’s objections in a way that does not come off as argumentative. Position your responses as ways to help you both to achieve your objectives and work together on a solution.
Recognize that your spouse may not be able to articulate why he feels the way he feels. If your spouse is not able to explain why he or she is resistant or refuses to discuss further, then switch the conversation to a more favorable topic to your spouse.
Understand Why Your Spouse Might be Hesitant
Reflect on your spouse’s childhood and how his or her parents handled money. Examine your spouse’s relationship with money and try to understand what may be holding him back from being proactive about your financial plan.
It may just be that your spouse needs some time to process the idea of creating a financial plan or changing the direction of your financial future.
He may feel overwhelmed by the idea of budgeting, tracking spending, paying off debt, and saving money.
He may not know the first thing about budgeting or why it is necessary.
He may not think he has enough time to devote to creating and implementing a financial plan.
He may not realize that having a plan can make him feel more in control of his money. Instead, he may feel like a plan will control him.
Whatever the situation may be, being sensitive to your spouse’s feelings about money will help you decide how best to proceed.
Lead by Example
While it is best to work together with your spouse on your financial plan, that may not always be possible.
Rather than giving up on the idea of being more intentional with your money, think of some simple ways that you can lead by example. It may be that once your spouse sees you making some changes that impact the family in a positive way, he may decide to jump on board and find out how he can help.
Here are some ideas:
- If you are the one who generally decides what to make for dinner, then maybe you can start meal planning as a way to save money on groceries and try to adhere to a food budget.
- Perhaps you can look at your expenses and try to negotiate a cheaper rate for Internet.
- Or maybe you can start limiting the number of lattes you purchase during the week so that you can make an extra payment toward your credit card.
- You may want to go through your closet and pull out some clothes you no longer wear and take them to a consignment shop to bring in some extra money.
Once your spouse sees you making an effort to take control of your finances and understands how important making a change is to you, he may be more willing to work with you to develop a plan.
It is important to remain patient, maintain a positive outlook, and have faith that your spouse will eventually see the financial light.
What About You?
Participate in the conversation. What advice would you give to someone who is trying to get their spouse on board? What worked for you when you had a similar conversation with your spouse? Share in the comments below.