Getting married is such an exciting time. You’re in love, want to tell the world about it, and planning your lives together.

What about when it comes to money though? Money is one of the most important parts of our lives, it affects everything we do. This can be a touchy topic in many relationships. Some people avoid it; It’s understandable. We were all raised with different ideas about money and how to use it. Some of us grew up in a financially abundant household. Most of us were just getting by, or even struggling to afford food and shelter.

How your parents or caretakers handled money had a big impact on how you view money today. It could be for better or worse. So, when you meet your dream person, the chance of you both having the same money experiences is slim. You’ve had different lives and education about handling money. You may have a different risk tolerance.

This is important. Instead of judging your partner’s money skills, you can seek to understand them. You can then decide what is key to both of you and how you will work toward personal and shared goals.

Communication leads to mutual understanding. But, starting the conversation can be hard. This is especially true if you and your partner have fought over money before. Remember, you can choose a new approach to these topics. No matter how you discussed them before.

In my coaching practice, I often remind clients it’s ok to have a tough conversation. The best way is to be curious about the other person. Think about a time when someone had an issue with you. They approached you from a place of judgment or anger. How well did that conversation go? Did you feel respected and cared for? Or, did you feel you had to defend your character? Or, worse, attack theirs in response? Reaching peace is hard when the conversation starts from judgment.

A great time to have these money talks is when you are calm. This might be out to dinner, at home on the couch, or doing an activity you both enjoy.

Here are some questions you could ask your partner:

  • How did your parents talk about money when you were growing up?
  • What are your financial goals for the next 6 months, 1 year, 3 years?
  • What is your idea of financial freedom?
  • How important is it to you to pay down debt fast? Or, do you prefer a slower approach to still enjoy some fun spending?
  • Where do you feel you can most improve when handling money?
  • Who is your financial role model?

You’ll notice these questions begin with How, What, Who, Where. These encourage open-ended conversation. Questions that begin with “Why” can come off as a judgment, like, “Why did you buy that car?” so it’s best to avoid them if possible. Make sure you also answer these questions, after all this is not an interview. It is an exercise for you both to get to know each other better. This is a great way to start talking about money. It is non-threatening while encouraging trust and cooperation.

Any awkwardness about money will go away the more open you become. You’ll lose the discomfort as you practice talking about it. This is your life-long teammate you are committing to, so don’t be afraid to involve them in the game plan. With so many to-do’s on the wedding planning list, don’t skip this important one.

Guest article by Anita Dombovari

Anita is a Certified Budget & Life Coach. She helps people build money confidence and create realistic budgets to change their financial future forever.

IG @anitathecoach