Couples fight about money. There is no real way to avoid this in a marriage. Being married means making some big decisions together and money inevitably comes into the conversation. However, you don’t have to be mean to each other. You can open up the doors of communication to make a healthy space for money in your marriage. Being fair and respectful can go a long way towards solving most marital problems and that’s definitely true when it comes to money.

Follow these seven tips when fighting about money with your spouse:

  1. Don’t fight when you’re mad. Money is often wrapped up in all different types of emotions for us. And money is often what we fight about when we really want to fight about something else (like the division of labor in the household or the amount of time that we spend together). Fighting about money when you’re emotionally worked up is a mistake. And continuing to discuss money when emotions start to flare is also a bad move. Make a commitment to only discussing financial matters when you’re calm and taking a breather if things get heated.
  2. Know exactly what you want. It is really hard for your spouse to give you what you want if you aren’t even sure what it is. Be clear about what the problem is and exactly what you want to solve it. This doesn’t mean that you’ll get what you want but it’s a good starting point for a fair negotiation.
  3. Ask for a clear explanation of what your spouse wants and then listen carefully. You think it’s absurd that your wife needs $300 shoes. She thinks it’s crazy that you blew $300 at the bar on drinks with your buddies. However, when you explain to one another that these indulgences make you feel young and fun again, you come to a mutual understanding of one another. Work hard to find out why your spouse wants to spend or save the way he does.
  4. Have some off-limits places when it comes to talking about money. Do you hate talking about money in the car because it makes you feel like you’re trapped in the conversation with no way to get out? Or do you loathe talking about money in bed because it never fails to ruin the mood? Don’t let money problems make the rest of your marriage miserable. Set some off-limits places and refuse to fight about money when you’re in that space.
  5. Set some financial ground rules. Different things work for different couples so there’s no one right formula here. However, every couple should have their own basic rules about how they are going to share, save and spend money. Establish what those are and reconnect with each other every now and again to make sure that they’re still right for you.
  6. Consider yourselves a financial team. The single biggest thing that causes money problems in marriage is the feeling that you two are pitted against one another. Finances often feel like a struggle; they shouldn’t also feel like a battleground. Make a commitment to be a team against your money problems instead of blaming one another for them.
  7. Identify your shared values. This is one of the key parts of being a team but it deserves to be its own point because it’s so important. Identify what your shared values are as a couple that are not about money. This can help you make clearer decisions when it comes to money issues. For example, if a good education is important to both of you then you can keep that in mind when fighting about the cost of your child’s chess classes or your desire to go back to college. Eyeing those shared values will help keep the fights fair.