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How couples can overcome financial incompatibility

  • Conflicts around money are inevitable no matter how in sync two people are.
  • Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, the author of a new book called "Breaking the Money Silence," offers tips for how couples can resolve their financial differences.
Fear approaching
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How comfortable you are talking about money with your partner can make or break your relationship.

The good news is that there are definite steps that couples can take to improve their financial compatibility, according to Kathleen Burns Kingsbury, a wealth psychology expert.

The subject of money is still taboo for many. That inspired Kingsbury to write a new book titled "Breaking Money Silence." The book covers the ways in which couples and individuals can improve how they think and talk about money.

Some signs that couples are financially incompatible are obvious, such as hiding purchases or debt.

"Often money is a symbol of something else," Kingsbury said. "That might be a symptom of trust issues in the relationship."

But even couples who share the same priorities when it comes to what they spend money on, say adventurous experiences, may still disagree on where to go on vacation and what equipment they will need once they are there.

Getting past those differences comes down to communication.

"Your compatibility also comes down to your willingness to talk or not talk about money," Kingsbury said.

Here are several tips for how couples can get beyond financial issues.

Look at your individual money mindset

Before discussing money issues with your partner, take the time to think about how you feel money should be used and its purpose in your life.

Understanding your own perspective can lead to more thoughtful conversations instead of arguments.

"When you understand yourself and your relationship with money, then you can better articulate your thoughts and beliefs to your partner," Kingsbury said.

Overcome your reluctance to talk about money

Learning to talk about money in a different way can help couples overcome the instinct to avoid the subject, Kingsbury said.

By talking about positive things, such as asking about the other person's greatest financial success, you can learn more about your partner and have a more positive discussion.

"Focus on each other's positives and each other's strengths," Kingsbury said.

Actively listen to your partner

Couples need to approach conversations about money with a willingness to see their partner's perspective.

"It's not about winning, it's about understanding each other," Kingsbury said.

Some more complicated decisions or topics, such as buying a new property or making a large investment, may require a series of conversations.

Go on a money date

Set aside time in the week or month to evaluate your budget and bills together, Kingsbury suggested.

Couples may want to also include a fun activity, such as hiking or skiing, to provide extra motivation.

Consult a professional

For more complicated conflicts, it can help to have a neutral party present to help mediate the process, according to Kingsbury. That can include a financial advisor, money coach, or a marriage and family counselor.

"If you feel like you're having the same conversation over and over again … that's the time to reach out for support," Kingsbury said.