A More Perfect Union

“All marriages are happy.  It’s living together afterward that’s difficult.”

Anonymous 

Flags, parades, picnics, and fireworks.  July is the month we celebrate those traditions and institutions that make our society strong and free.

Before the Founding Fathers wrote their plan for “a more perfect union,” they did a lot of thinking, discussing, and a fair bit of arguing. Their plan for a new government had to rest on a foundation of communication, understanding, and trust.

Open, honest, and thoughtful discussions about money are vital to all strong relationships, from colonies to couples. Just as the Founding Fathers met to discuss their issues, here are some guidelines from the booklet “Love and Money” for coming together with your mate to create your more perfect union:

  1. Organize regular “money meetings” to discuss your financial situation, dreams and goals.  Use this time to brainstorm creative solutions to problems and generate ideas to improve your future.
  1. Time your financial discussions carefully.  During the morning rush, late at night, or after a bitter argument are not good times to discuss financial topics.  A lazy Sunday afternoon, a quiet weekday evening, or during a leisurely walk are better choices.
  1. Set realistic goals for your discussions.  You cannot change the past, spend the same money on two different things, or make your partner into a different person. Be clear about what you want to achieve.
  1. Don’t be afraid to rehearse your financial discussions in advance. Love does not mean constant spontaneity.  Considering how and when to best approach your partner can make the difference between success and failure when discussing tough subjects.
  1. If a discussion looks like it might become a fight, have a timeout.  It takes at least twenty minutes for the adrenaline rush triggered by an argument to subside.  Once your blood pressure has dropped, write out your position on a piece of paper.  Show it to your partner and use it to identify points of agreement and disagreement.
  1. For women:  Men do not like to talk as much, as often, or about as many subjects as women.  This is natural.  Get to the point, suggest practical solutions, and be ready to take action. For men:  Women generally require more discussion and consensus than men do.  This is natural. Resist the urge to solve everything before your mate has talked through the problem.

Money is a tool for use in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Try to make your money management tasks and your talks about them positive and safe for both partners.  By using these basic steps, your money partnership will grow and thrive with shared knowledge and open communication.

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