One of the most difficult parts of talking about money is knowing what to say. That’s one reason why money conversations get emotional very quickly. We don’t know what to say, so we get frustrated with ourselves and with each other, and we resort to basic words and phrases.
Here are some word-for-word scripts you can use to start the conversation when these common topics come up.
Q: You don’t care enough during these conversations.
A: I realize that in the past, I haven’t cared in the way that you need me to care. I’m here now. I want to understand how you need me to show up, because I love you and I want to do that.
Q: My partner keeps saying I’m controlling during these conversations, but I just want to solve this.
A: I’m realizing that the way that I’ve been communicating has not been working. That’s why I’m here. I know that I need help. And I know that I want to change for us.
Q: You keep saying I get defensive. I don’t know how not to be defensive.
A: I want to stop being defensive because I know you don’t like it. What’s something that you wish I would stop staying? … From now on, I promise to not say that phrase again. If I do, I want you to remind me. Yell “Truck!”
Q: I get told I always walk away from these conversations because they’re too hard. But I just can’t talk about it anymore.
A: Sometimes I need to take 5 minutes for myself. I realize that I need to speak up when I need that time to myself. I would ask that we both come up with a phrase where if we need a few minutes to ourselves, to recover or to think about things, we can take it judgment free.
Q: I want to spend more but my partner is frugal.
A: One of the things I love about you is that you’re so thoughtful with our money. And I want to keep doing that. I love you for that. I want to add something new to the way that we talk about money — adventure, experience, etc. I want to use that. We have done such a great job saving money, thanks to you. Now I want to turn the chapter to add on this new thing. We should still be thoughtful about our money. BUt I need your help so that we can move into the next chapter of our lives together. We will stop before we ever get out of control. I promise you that.
Q: I’m frugal but my partner wants to spend more.
A: I have to tell you that it scares me to think about spending more money because I’ve always saved more because we didn’t have a lot of money. I saved more because I had to save it in case something bad happened. Now I save it because it’s a habit. So I know when you say that you want to spend more, I know you think that I’m frugal or cheap. But I’m scared of spending more money because I’m worried we might lose it.