Is there anything sexier than talking about budgets, compound interest, and debt? I get it … at face value money sounds like a really dull topic at best and a really prickly one to discuss with your partner at worst. But trust me: Talking about money, especially when you do it on a regular basis, can and will create intimacy in your relationship.
Before my husband and I started our monthly money dates, we were staying afloat financially, but we weren’t doing a good job of making sure our joint values were reflected in the way we were using our money. Instead, I had a strong hand in our money life and my husband was left mostly in the dark. We talked about money when things were going wrong, but never when things were going right.
Once we started meeting monthly to talk about money over burgers and Arnold Palmers, things slowly began to change. We began to see money as a tool to help us make our big dreams possible, which encouraged us to spend more time dreaming. One of the best ways to create intimacy with your partner is to decide together on where you are going and the path to get there. Want to really grow closer? Reach that goal together!
Looking to create more intimacy in your relationship as you talk about money? Try these ideas:
· Ask Open-Ended Questions: Too often money conversations focus on closed-ended questions like: “Do we have enough money to go on vacation?” or “Did we go over on our budget this month?” But you’ll get to know your partner better with questions like: “In an ideal world, how much money would make you feel financially secure?” or “Are you a spender, saver, giver, or acquirer, and why?”
Tip: Liven up your money conversations with these money date night icebreakers.
· Dive Into Your Values: Don’t assume you know what’s most important to your partner — give your partner space to surprise you. And while you’re at it, give yourself space to surprise yourself. Having a conversation about the things that matter most to you can help you use your money with more intention. It’s common to assume that your money is going toward these things when it often isn’t.
Tip: Take 15 minutes to complete this values activity on your own and share your answers. Ask your partner to explain why each of their top five values matters to them. Don’t assume you know the answer — you may each value family or creativity, but for very different reasons. Don’t have time for the full-length activity? Next time you’re riding in the car together ask your partner: “What are the three most important things in your life right now and why?” These could be people, places, causes, goals, values, you name it. Listen with an ear to be surprised.
· Find the Financial Path That’s Right for You: Recently an engaged woman asked me when she should combine finances with her partner. She shared that since she and her partner had very different views on money, she was nervous to connect their finances, but felt they had to since they were getting married. Don’t fall into the trap of money “shoulds.” There are a lot of different ways to handle finances, so enjoy paving your own path together.
Tip: Every time you are faced with a new money opportunity, ask yourself: “Is this right for us? Does it align with our values and goals? Why or why not?” Don’t just copy someone else’s path; find what works for you.
· Dream Together: My husband and I spend most of our money dates dreaming about our future and making a plan to get there. It isn’t just about the numbers; it’s about visualizing life 5, 10, or 15 years down the road. Creating a shared vision of your life together can bring you closer as you begin to see those dreams come alive. Plus, agreeing on where you are going and finding ways to hold each other accountable to this vision can save you a lot of heartache.
Tip: Ask your partner: “What do you want our life to look like in 10 years? Why?” Dig into the details: Where will we be living? What will you be doing? What will our family look like? How will our money life have changed? Give yourselves each space to share your vision before you combine them together. Then, find a way to make both visions possible. Acknowledge that there may be pieces of your shared vision that are yours together and others that belong to you each individually.
· Assess Where You Are Today: Once you’ve had a chance to dream, take a look at where you are right now. Ask: Where are the gaps between where we are and where we’d like to be?
Tip: Don’t play the blame game about why you, as a couple, aren’t where you want to be. Instead, create space for each of you to take responsibility for where you are today and to acknowledge factors outside of your control (like a salary freeze at work). Focus on what you can control and outline steps to get you where you want to go.
· Set and Reach Goals Together: The intimacy created by breaking down a big goal into little pieces and slowly making your way toward the finish line together is unbelievable. I’ve seen this in action this summer as my husband and I prepare to sell our house and move to an apartment in the city. Once we became clear on our goal, we worked to stay connected every step of the way. We’ve had tough conversations to make sure our decisions really aligned with our vision; we’ve also held each other accountable when one of us started to lose focus. We’re mid-way through the process but are finally beginning to see the finish line.
Tip: Once you reach the finish line, take the time to celebrate the work you’ve done together to reach this milestone. It doesn’t need to cost a lot of money — think a picnic in the park, making dinner together, or a date at your favorite coffee shop — but it should involve some time. Make a point to acknowledge and thank your partner for the ways he/she made this dream possible.
How have you found that money creates intimacy in your relationship? Share below!
Looking to create more intimacy in your relationship? Join my Date Night Club. I’ll help you dig into the “why” behind the “what” of your money life and take small steps together toward your goals — all in just 30 minutes a month.
Photo Credit: Tandem Tree Photography