Of the many intimacies that we attend to and invest our energy into throughout the course of a relationship, financial intimacy usually is not at the top of the list…despite its impact on the day-to-day functioning and operations of a household. In order to have a healthy, trusting, and holistic marriage, though, we must pay close attention to how we are working on deepening financial intimacy.
I define financial intimacy as enjoying the benefits of full disclosure and communication around all things related to finances with a life partner.
And as African-Americans, whose collective experience in this country has been marked by the systematic destruction of family structure and the elimination of opportunities for socio-economic mobility, it is even more imperative and pressing that we engender financial intimacy of our relationships. The fate of our collective economic and familial structures depends on it.
The Heart of Financial Intimacy
While every couple will have their singular way of fostering financial intimacy, financial intimacy looks and moves with a particular rhythm. You will know financial intimacy when you see and hear the following:
Use of data to ground money talks
Instead of making generalizations and broad statements about the state of a couple’s finances, financial intimacy dictates that each partner speaks in specifics about a particular financial focus. Instead of saying, “We are spending too much money,” a couple demonstrating financial intimacy will say, “Over the past three months, we have spent $200 more than we budgeted on entertainment and electricity.”
Focus on solutions
When couples experience financial intimacy, they leave the “blame game” out of the communication. Rather than say, “we did not meet our investment goals for this month,” couples with a healthy level of financial intimacy may offer solutions to the problem such as enlisting the support of a financial advisor, increasing the number of times they work overtime, or opting for a “cash only” system in order to address money gaps.
Candor around emotions
Partners that benefit from financial intimacy feel free to express the range of emotions that accompanies financial realities. In addition to communicating happiness, optimism, and hope with respect to their financial dreams, couples with a strong foundation in financial intimacy do not shy away from expressing doubt, angst, disappointment, and frustration when it comes to money matters. They just do it respectfully.
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The Benefits of Financial Intimacy
Establishing financial intimacy will do more than just improve the state of your money; it will permeate all facets of your marriage. Here are but a few of the benefits of having a marriage that forges financial intimacy.
Decrease in Financial Friction
Once you have established financial intimacy, fighting about spending, budgeting, and roles/responsibilities is less likely to happen since fighting around money is usually a symptom of financial disconnect, miscommunication, and muddled understanding.
When you establish financial intimacy, you and your partner co-construct a financial vision for the family. With a shared financial vision, you and your spouse are on the same page with respect to the long term and short-term goals for the family’s financial future. With shared financial goals, you create financial alignment, increasing the likelihood that each financial decision will be evaluated in its ability to help you reach your financial destination.
Peace of Mind
You don’t have to worry about screening calls, opening bulky envelopes. You also won’t have to cross your fingers when you use your credit card or debit card hoping that it will go through. Financial intimacy eliminates surprises and fear.
Legacy of Financial Responsibility
Lamar Tyler, co-creator and CEO of Black and Married with Kids always tells us, his staff writers, “You never know who is watching [brands, organizations, and companies] so always be on your A game.” If you have children, whether you notice it or not, they are internalizing your messages about money, relationships, and how both are to be handled in a relationship. Even if you do not have children, you are part of a larger community with young couples looking for positive financial models to emulate.
The more financial intimacy you have, the more likely that you will be debt free and achieve greater financial freedom more quickly. Period. When couples support their shared financial goals, they make better decisions about how to invest their money, how to save their money, and how to grow their money.
BMWK – Has establishing financial intimacy been a goal for your marriage?