What are the most important areas to talk about when it comes to love and money?
Most couples spend a lot of time talking about bills (or avoiding talking about bills). But when it comes to love and money it is really important add a few other topics to the conversation.
I wrote earlier about the importance of context — understanding where you and your partner are coming from when it comes to money, especially as it relates to how each of you were raised. The second topic to cover with your partner, or prospective partner, is dreams — what do you want for yourself, your family and for each other?
No doubt some of you are rolling your eyes right now, resistant to working on the soft skills of getting a handle on your money. While this stuff is less comfortable to talk about, it is just as important as the hard skills, and most people suck at it.
Dream as a team
Kids are great at coming up with dreams, even if they are of the rock star, hockey player, U.N. Secretary General variety. They have dreams that excite about and inspire them, whereas a lot of us adults have simply forgotten how to dream. This is understandable given the many more pressing issues we face, like family, career, health and Pinterest. It is understandable, but also unfortunate.
Having dreams is incredibly important in relationships, for a few reasons. First, if you don’t know what you want, how do you expect to get it. Second, having goal as a couple is motivating, which means you’re more likely to complete the boring tasks to get a handle on your money if you’re clear on why you’re doing it. And third, having dreams that the two of you came up with provides you with something to work on together. In fact, one of the best pieces of marital advice Dennis and I ever received was this: “Be sure you are always co-creating something.”
Becoming a dream machine
Getting started is pretty simple. Make time in your crazy schedule to have 60 minutes of uninterrupted quiet time together. Pour two glasses of your beverage of choice and ponder the following areas, first jotting down ideas on your own.
Experiences: What are some experiences would you like to have?
Health: What do you want for your mental, physical or spiritual health?
Family: What do you want for your family?
Home: What do you dream about when it comes to where you live?
Contribution: Where would you like to make a contribution to your community?
Things: What are some things you’d like to have? Or would you like to simplify?
Career: What do you want in the area of your job or career?
Retirement: What do you want to do after you stop drawing a paycheque? And when?
Wildcards: Is there anything on dream list that you haven’t written down?
Dreaming your partner’s dream as you dream your own
Now that you have some ideas on your own, spend some time going through your dream lists together. I can promise you it will be a fruitful discussion. Even couples whose relationships are off track report that this is a helpful exercise, though it may illustrate just how far apart they have become.
Being clear about what your partner wants will open the door for you to help them get it. In fact, one of the best wedding vows I ever heard was this. “I promise to dream your dreams as I dream my own.” That is a hell of a standard, but a very powerful one.
You’ll cover dreams that are “mine and yours,” and you’ll talk about “ours.” What dreams do we have for us that we’re going to work on together?
Bringing dreams to life
You might have a nice warm fussy feeling after having a conversation about dreams. Lovely. Enjoy it.
Then spend a few minutes thinking about a few actions you could take to move forward on one or two of the dreams you have. And be sure to keep those pieces of paper handy, perhaps even selecting a few of your shared dreams to put on the fridge.
We’ve talked about context and dreams. In posts to come I’ll cover values and duties, all in the spirit of improving the “Financial Intimacy” in your relationship.