Do you struggle when it comes to getting your spouse on board with your finances? It’s one of the top three things couples fight about most. (Sex and parenting are the other two.)
One of the biggest obstacles that I see female clients deal with is husbands. The conversation usually starts out like, “I’m trying to do all these things and he’s not helping! What can I do to make them change?”
I usually have to stop them right there.
On a very primal level, men want to be providers and protectors.
They want to keep their women happy.
When you are talking to your husband, boyfriend or spouse about money problems, they interpret it as though they are being bad providers. This may not even be a conscious level thought. Very often, this thought process is taking place at a subconscious level.
You’re kind of kicking them in the nuts before you get started with the discussion. This becomes problematic when you’re trying to get somebody to cooperate. If he’s resistant to using a budget, spending money on things he wants, and refusing to get help, there’s no use fighting about it. You can’t change him.
We each have different ways that scarcity shows up for us.
The first thing that you want to understand is what scarcity looks like to you. You need to recognize how you behave when you’re in scarcity mode. You’re going to experience scarcity differently from how your spouse experiences it.
This is going to be critical to stopping making decisions while you’re in your scarcity mode. If you make decisions in scarcity, your spouse ends up making decisions in their version of scarcity. Instead of making any progress, you end up butting heads and nobody makes any progress.
Instead of making decisions in scarcity, you want to start to make the changes you can make.
You want to start to go through your transactions and close any time leaks. Notice there’s a key word here: YOU. Not your husband, not your boyfriend, not your lover… YOU.
If you’re going to the grocery store four days a week, you just found a time leak. The only reason anyone goes to the grocery store more than once a week is because they’re not planning. It’s time to make do with what you have and plan for those times you can’t. (Frozen pizza anyone?)
Let’s be honest. Any procurement of goods is a leak of time and money. If you’re going to the store four times a week because you forgot bread for sandwiches, you’re not walking out with a loaf of bread. The sales change. The end caps change. You enjoy the break to walk around the store for a few minutes. Suddenly, you need a snack or a different after dinner treat. The trip to pick up one item turns into a bag full of goods that were never on your list.
Most of my clients come to see me in a state of busy, broke, and exhausted.
There’s a lot going on. If you can get some time back, you can have the space to find mental energy. This may mean you’re planning something out rather than doing it by the seat of your pants.
There’s a different level of stress when you say, “Tonight, we’re going to have turkey meatloaf” versus, “Oh God, I didn’t take meat out of the freezer! Let’s get a pizza.”
You want to see where you’re leaking mental energy.
When you’re thinking about the same thing over and over again, that’s a mental energy leak. Many of us are good at procrastinating. We put off the task, but that doesn’t mean we stop thinking about it.
If you have a lot of debt that’s weighing on you, put a plan around it. If you need to make phone calls about your student loans, make them. If you need to pick out health insurance, sit down and make the selection. If your husband needs to make the call, put the time on the calendar, hire the babysitter, and sit down and do it together. If he’s not cooperating, do what you can do.
Once you free up mental energy and close the energy leaks, start looking for emotional leaks.
You’re not going to worry about what your spouse is doing yet. There’s a certain amount of momentum that you need to build upon before they’re going to be able to hop on board. When you start to look you might say, “Oh my goodness, you know what? Well, I go wandering around Home Goods after I had a hard day at work.” Close up those emotional gaps! You may need to find a different outlet for stress. Or you may need to find a different outlet for pleasure. Either way, Home Goods isn’t it.
After you’ve done these things, you are going to start to see some progress in your finances.
This will be the result of you cleaning up your side of the street. You’re going to see yourself understanding your emotions around your scarcity and tightening up your time. You’ll tighten up your mental and emotional energy. Then, you’ll start to see actual financial progress. And by this point, you may have even put in place a plan for your day.
And then there’s momentum that builds that will help a spouse get on board.
Oftentimes, I see clients taking action by becoming the leader in their household finances. It becomes a chain reaction and we start seeing the spouse hop on board. Sometimes this doesn’t take place until three to five months later. You have to be able to tolerate the injustice of it, the unfairness of it, for a while before they’re going to see that you’re serious. And that’s okay.
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