How to Talk Money with Your Husband
When was the last time you sat down with your husband for an in-depth discussion about your household finances? If you're like a lot of women, your answer may be "never." It's a toxic topic even in the best of times, and in the current economic climate it can be explosive.
Money is one of the least-discussed subjects in a marriage, says Bonnie Eaker Weil, PhD, author of Financial Infidelity: Seven Steps to Conquering the #1 Relationship Wrecker. "Yet it's also the major reason for fights and divorce." For many couples it's easier to live in denial than to face financial realities. Also, no one wants to get caught stealing from the piggy bank. One survey found that 82 percent of married people occasionally hide purchases from their spouse, while another reported that about 30 percent have been dishonest about their spending habits.
When times are good, spouses can get away with avoidance and even dishonesty. "As long as there's extra money around, they can hide from their differences," says Stephen Betchen, a marriage and family counselor based in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and author of Magnetic Partners. "But when there's no longer enough money to cover them up, they bubble to the surface." When partners finally do have that long-overdue financial discussion these days, it may be under extremely stressful conditions as they grapple with lost jobs, withered retirement accounts, and unsellable houses. They're forced to face the truth and take a cold, hard look at income, investments, budgets, and spending habits.
You've got to start talking, experts say -- and it's much better to do so before a crisis occurs. Here are five of the most important financial questions to ask your husband right now, with advice on how to keep the conversation positive and productive.