How to Talk Money with Your Husband

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Jobs in Jeopardy

"What if we lose our jobs?"

It's a reasonable question, especially now. But it's a scary topic, and not just in terms of financial security. Men and women both get a sense of identity and self-worth from their career. "Men tend to be touchy about their role as breadwinner," says Betchen. "The idea that they won't be able to protect and provide for their family can make them feel ashamed."

Meanwhile, many American husbands still earn more than their wives do, and some wives don't like being dependent on that income. Asking their husband about his job security may make them feel even more uncomfortable -- and vulnerable.

Once you've dealt with your own avoidance, how do you get your husband to talk? Make it about the headlines, not about him, says Candace Bahr, cofounder of the nonprofit Women's Institute for Financial Education. "Say that with unemployment as high as it is, you need to talk through contingency plans." Ask how you might cut back on spending or beef up your emergency fund beyond the usual three to six months. Then brainstorm alternative jobs you both could look for if the ax falls. And don't be afraid to keep the discussion going. "People don't always tell their spouse when things are looking shaky at work," says Pepper Schwartz, PhD, chief relationship expert at But it's critical to keep each other in the loop. Otherwise a job loss can throw the relationship into a tailspin because the other partner feels ambushed.

Continued on page 3:  Parental Pressure


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