With the current financial crisis, Americans are feeling the stress and strain of an economy whose future is uncertain. Financial worries are one of the most common topics of arguments among couples and very often financial disagreements can be the pre-cursuors of divorce. Given the current economic environment, couples more than ever need to make financial discussions and arguments productive. Here are some simple strategies to make the most out of your financial discussions.
These tips are drawn from the work of Dr. John Gottman (www.gottman.com ).
1. Keep your cool - One of the most important things to remember is that when your emotions are flying be it anger, sadness, frustration- you can’t think as clearly. Take a minute or 2 or 10 to calm down. Then start to talk
2. Soften your "start up." Arguments often “start up" because some one makes a critical remark or talks in an angry tone. Try to bring up problems gently and without blame.
3. Don’t be a mind reader … Talk about your feelings- not what you think your partner is feeling. Start your sentence with the word “I” and focus on identifying what you’re feeling and why.
4. Think – then speak. Common sense- but once the words are out- YOU CANT TAKE THEM BACK. Remember the goal of the conversation is to solve the problem not to “win”.
5. Repair before exiting. Bottom line here is don’t let the argument get out of control. Do something to end on a positive or at least neutral note. So doing things like changing the topic to something completely unrelated; using humor; offering a positive comment, letting your partner know you are on the same team.
And finally backing down- yes- sometimes it is much better to back off than to stand your ground. Dealing with the financial crisis requires the patience of all of us as individuals. Healthy discussions and arguments will help couples navigate these difficult times.