How Successful Couples Develop a “Financial Rhythm” and Win at Managing Money Together
By Floyd Saunders, Founder at Really Simple Investing
As a certified financial therapist, Mariah Hudler combines finances and social work to help couples develop the skills needed to have successful money
conversions and develop a financial rhythm to get better at handling joint finances.
Her self-published E-guide - You, Me & Money: A couple's quick start guide to building financial rhythm is available from her website. Download a Free Chapter.
Mariah’s passion is helping people create healthy relationships with their money. She blends her background in mental health and finances to help couples live a richer more satisfying life through productive money conversations.
Mariah earned her Master in Social Work from UC Berkeley, and MBA from University of Waikatlo and is a Certified Financial Therapist-I.
Successful Couples Develop a "Financial Rhythm"
So many times when a couple gets married, they come to the relationship with backgrounds that they may not necessarily even understand or know about as it relates to money and finances and who's going to spend what. And then all of a sudden, they put their money into a joint checking account and one of them is spending more money than the other one feels they should and they don't really know how to handle that.
Listen to the interview here:
“Not a lot of us have had comfort, even self-awareness about our own money stories and how we engage with our own relationship with money and then to come together with a completely different human being that we really love and have a lot of kind of hopes for going forward that I think we think that, oh, it'll just work itself out”. But all too often that is not the case.
In a poll conducted by www.DivorceMagazine.com, the leading cause of divorce was found to be financial issues.. “During the divorce, the two most contentious issues are usually finances and children – in that order,” says Dan Couvrette, publisher of Divorce Magazine.
Money Conversations Tend to Be Scary Between Couples
According to Mariah, “We tend to not have those money conversations beforehand because some of them can be actually scary. and may a lot of us don't even know how to talk about them.” - Mariah Hudler
When you are not able to talk with your partner about money is a reasonable manner, it can often lead to conflict and often divorce. Mariah works with couples to reduce the conflicts around money by establishing some basic behaviors successful couples have around money. It is what she call a "financial rhythm".
"So this book, the couple's quick start guide to building financial rhythm was really born from the work Mariah was doing with couples and the process of walking them through the steps to developing productive conversions around money. " - Mariah Hudler
"Because what I was finding in my practice was, people didn't know how to start the conversation, have the conversation, how often, how to read the other one and how, you know, what things could activate them or shut them down, avoidance, and just kind of different viewpoints on saving and spending. There's a lot of intricacies to actually having a conversation, then also embrace conflict." - Mariah Hudler
Common Difficulties When Talking about Money
What are some of the common difficulties that you see around money management? when it's a couple and they try to discuss things?
“I would say one of the top things is, that they don't view, as it's something that happens alongside of them rather than actively engaging in it." And Mariah goes on to say: "And what I mean by that is, you know, setting a time, setting a time aside to specifically talk about money, that, that this is a priority.”
“Even in being in relationships, we can get kind of lackadaisical about checking in with each other or setting ourselves up for success for the week. It's essentially the same thing for money. If you're not carving out space to kind of talk about it, then it's going to come up kind of uncontained. And I see a lot of stress around what I call "financial drive-bys" from couples. Where maybe someone's going through the bank account and maybe it's early morning, be like, what's this charge of da, da, da, da, da, da, da?"
According to Mariah: "And we're not really ready to kind of have that conversation and it may come across as accusatory or critical. And I see a lot of stress around what I call financial drive-bys from couples."
"We're not really ready to kind of have that conversation and it may come across as accusatory or critical. And maybe it's not, maybe it's just of interest. So putting some kind of containment around it of when we have these conversations, how we'll have the conversations, how we need to show up. I always like my couples to start with something that connects them if there is stress around finances. So taking a moment to like give each other a compliment so that you know our stress isn't high and we don't start the conversation off in defense."
Successful couple develop a financial rhythm to money that helps the avoid the fights about money that so often happens.
This is not your average financial planning guide. The content is informative and easily digestible with interactive and transformational mindset and communication exercises. You will create a communication flow, learn how to make decisions to the same beat, and build patterns of lasting wealth and relationship satisfaction.
Money Conversation Tips
What are some of the tips that you have in your guide to help people get out of this issue where they have these, as you mentioned, financial drive-bys, it causes conflict, one person being accused of spending money when they didn't tell the other. What do you do to help them?
"It's a bit of a process, but first we start with kind of self-awareness. Start with understanding each individual's money story. And a lot of us haven't really never had this conversation with reflection with ourselves and most importantly, not with our partners."
Mariah further explains: "Where we come from and how we arrive at life as adults is highly influenced by our role modeling in the United States. You know, we are in a consumeristic culture. Our parents, families, culture, religion, all of these things can impact how we engage with our money. It's important to know that about the other person because that increases compassion and understanding. And then just to identify what one's money's beliefs is around spending and saving."
Because we have to, we're moving forward together with someone, with our partner.
As the podcast continues, Mariah points out: "I use values as a way to work with each of the couples to understand what's important to them, how they want to live their life. And for the marriage, like what kind of values do the marriage want."
"And that's where you can make your decisions around spending from. Because the two of you are deciding together what kind of values you want for the relationship."
"Say if it's financial freedom. Okay, well, you might have to make some pretty serious decisions around saving to become financially free. you have to talk about like for your podcast for investing, you know what what that means.
lot of people are afraid of investing because they think there's a risk associated with it. But there's a risk for not putting that money aside and building up that money for the future as well. And that's really an important thing to be concerned about and work through.
So what are the kinds of discussions that you get couples to have as they get into this rhythm around money?
"Basically, helping them looking towards goals, setting goals for saving, and then, looking at their lifestyles about how they want to live."
"Then setting future goals, as well as how the couple would like to get there, like what will be, how they need to get there, what are the, you know, financial literacy skills that they need to increase for the both of them, for both of them to feel comfortable."
"And then most importantly about kind of checking in, like having those monthly meetings to push forward and address anything that needs to be addressed."
"Since my background is in mental health, I deal with basically the money and emotion side, but I do refer them on to financial planners and advisors, and I prep them to be successful with those conversations. Because, you know, as you said, that people... they may feel that that's beyond them, that they're scared, they don't know how to have these conversations, but after working with me, they're really ready."
They're asking those questions, like how do we grow this money? How do we get there? Like the different investing opportunities, whether real estate or the stock market. And where our time ends. And I kind of hand the baton over. to a more qualified person in that realm."
Let's say, one person in the relationship wants to put money in the stock market and the other person says, oh, that's scary to me.
Mariah:“I'd probably start to identify just the anxiety around what is the background, whether if they did lose it in the depression, to understand that a little bit better, and then give them some skills to reduce that anxiety, or challenge those messages that they have, holding them back. And then if they have the goals of growing their money, helping to kind of expose, like increase exposure, well, maybe we don't put everything right now, we just start with a little bit.
What is a good number for you? Where do you feel comfortable? And then kind of a reassessment as time goes on."
How frequently do you recommend to them that they sit down and have conversations about money and review the budget and where it's being spent and what their goals are?
Mariah: "Monthly. So initially I start my couples off weekly, but that's because they're learning a new skill and then they should be able to you know widen that out as time goes on and they feel more confident and They're able to handle it in a shorter amount of time."
Fighting about Money
Mariah: The best advice is there is potential to work through those things and it will require some learning and some commitment and maybe you have to do things a different way, but there's still potential in that."
"I have about six to eight sessions with couples to kind of get them up and going, increase skills, learn some coping skills, some communication techniques, and then it depends on what they need. And everyone has their own journey.
I have couples that are premarital, and those are pretty standard because we don't have a lot of those patterns and relationships already embedded. Where my couples that have been married longer, it does take a little bit longer because they're also kind of recoiling patterns that they've already put into place."
If you really want to achieve financial success, you have to start working with your partner to agree on financial goals. If you need help with that, you now have some additional resources. Either read the book "You, Me and Money" or go to Mariah Hudler's website and book some sessions with her. She works with clients in person and online. Reach her by email at email@example.com, or check out her website at www.mariahhuder.com. You can also finder her on instagram: letstalkfinancialhealth and LinkedIn at mariah-hudler-LCSW-MBA.