What are the three things we’re never supposed to bring up in ‘polite’ conversation? Religion, sex and politics. Sadly, in many relationships you could add a fourth taboo topic to that list — money. Many couples have difficulty discussing finances with each other. Left in the dark, money can often become a volatile topic leading to arguments, deception and the breakdown of a relationship.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Even if you have no idea how to talk with your partner about money, you can learn. You just have to open up and be honest with your partner and you’ll find much more freedom and harmony in your relationship.

If you’re looking for some guidance on how to start talking with your partner about money, here are three non-exhaustive steps to get you started.

#1 – Start the Conversation

This first point is so basic that it might seem unnecessary but without it, you can’t make any progress. Money isn’t something you’ll talk about once with your partner; it’s a conversation you should have at least once a month, but more frequently if possible. At first, it might seem awkward and painful, but with time and practice, you’ll grow comfortable talking about money together. Just remember, you’re a team and having open, honest and considerate conversation about how you view, spend and feel about money, you’ll get to see where each of you is coming from in regards to money and will have a better understanding of how to work together to accomplish your financial goals.

#2 – Be Transparent

Honesty is the foundation for a strong and enduring relationship. Don’t hold the truth back from each other when it comes to money. If there’s anything you’re keeping secret, either because you’re ashamed or because you don’t know how your partner will react, you need to share it. You’ll feel better once your past, present and future with money is in the light and you’ll be able to tackle any underlying issues driving financial stress together. You’ll be able to decide as a team, how to move forward and what help to seek.

Your relationship will be richer and your financial victories will be sweeter, since you will have gained them together.

#3 – Establish Your Expectations

Once you’ve opened up with each other and begun to have regular conversations about money, you can set expectations about how you will spend, save and bank. You’ll have many things to decide together, including:

This is just a short list. There are other topics you can and should address together. One final thing to remember is above all, to be patient and kind with one another as you work through the sensitive and often confounding topics of debt, saving, spending, investing and more.

Each person’s money story and financial journey is unique, but with compassion and understanding, two paths can come together to forge one exciting adventure.

What is your background with money? Do you feel comfortable talking about it with your partner? Did you talk about money in your family as you grew up or was it a taboo topic?

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