Identifying a need for change begins with admitting to our imperfect situation. In much the same way starting a fitness and nutrition regimen begins with acknowledging poor health habits, working with an unhealthy financial situation begins with acknowledging the opportunity to do better.
Unfortunately, as it relates to money, you may not be the only one contributing to the problem. That is easily exemplified in a family/household where multiple parties create the financial challenge. With finances being one of the biggest contributors to divorces it is mind-blowing that more couples aren’t taking action towards repairing their finances. But what if you do want to fix things your partner does not? It could be for any number of reasons, such as fear, lack of understanding, indifference, etc. How do you fix your money situation in this case? Here are some ideas to get you started.
Get off the starting line and begin the process on your own. You can do so with whatever limitations you have to work with. If your finances are kept separate, then work on your personal cashflow. If you are the one handling the joint family finances, then work on the overall financial outlook.
Waiting to get buy-in from all parties is likely to keep you stuck for a long time. Instead, decide to lead by example so that you don’t just talk about what can be done but you exemplify it being done. Then broadcast not what you did but the rewards. Show the changes that you are accomplishing. The proof is in the pudding, after all, and you will have a better chance of gaining support and eventual cooperation if you can model success.
Aim to improve.
When you are dealing with household finances on your own it may seem sometimes that you are shackled because of lack of access to the information you need or from the inability to take the needle-moving steps that will get you to where you want to go quickly. With that in mind, it is best to aim to make things better instead of trying to cure it entirely.
Reducing your family’s debt balance by making consistent small payments would be a more reasonable goal than to eliminate the debt in 12 months. The bolder move would require making more drastic changes that affect everyone but might also cause severe push-back which in turn may create unnecessary conflict. Choose instead to make small, impactful changes overall and let the improvements speak for themselves.
Avoid the blame game.
Assigning blame never solved a problem. If anything, it just creates more problems! Even if you can clearly see that your partner’s actions are contributing directly to your money woes, casting blame is not helpful in resolving the issue. Instead, consider a cause and effect approach. Make this a clinical exercise where your personal emotions are removed from the equation and instead the focus is on identifying the cause and adjusting the behaviour in order to create a more desirable effect.
This change can be brought about in many indirect ways using language, emotional incentives and rewards to influence behaviour and bring about change. Chances are you know your partner (and yourself) very well so use what you know to positively influence them. You are more likely to get someone to come on board if they know they will not be bludgeoned with blame at every turn.
This is not incentive to keep secrets by any means as this would be a recipe for certain death to your relationship. Instead, you should only share on a need to know basis because you don’t need the negativity and doubt of an uncooperative partner. Some of the strategies you are considering might be construed as unorthodox or impractical but may be exactly what will work for your situation. Keeping naysayers to a minimum will help to safeguard your healthy mindset and position you for more extraordinary results.
Don’t become a teacher.
Perhaps the worst thing that can be done with an unwilling partner would be for you to take on the role of teacher. Relationships operate on a very sensitive teeter-totter of roles and expectations. A teacher-student relationship changes the flow of power and that may not be appreciated by your partner.
An alternative instead would be inviting a trusted professional in to guide your financial repair. In doing so you not only safeguard the emotional balance in your relationship but it also helps to deflect any potential attacks away from each other. With all that is riding on the success of your relationships, professional assistance would be a worthwhile investment of time and money.
Quite literally, without overstating, repairing your finances has the potential to save your relationship! And beginning that process may mean you go at it alone at the start but it is so worth the benefits. Imagine your relationship flourishing without the strain of finances. If money is a source of contention in your union the tips above will help you create the momentum you need to repair your situation and begin to experience extraordinary financial results.