Fighting about money sucks. And if you fight with your spouse about cash, it’s even more trying. Of course sometimes married people separate their finances and that does the trick. But it doesn’t work all the time.
Imagine the following:
You and your spouse have a disagreement about money and you KNOW you are right. He wants to go on a trip to Africa and you want to use the money to pay down debt. Even though the decision seems so obvious to you, your honey bunny is set on that safari. How do you resolve the problem?
My experience tells me there are 3 magic words that can stop this and almost every other disagreement about finances.
In case you are wondering, they aren’t “Call My Lawyer.” The words are “You Are Right.”
“What? Neal…You’ve got it all wrong…I’m the one who is right this time! He’s the one who is W-R-O-N-G!!! ”
Hold on. I’m not suggesting that you surrender or lie. I’m suggesting that you find something right about what your partner suggests. If you are with a reasonable person, that shouldn’t be difficult. This will not only stop the fights about money. It is also a way for you to vastly improve your relationship and financial stability.
Let’s see how this tactic operates in real life and then decide if it’s for you or not.
My wife “prefers” that we buy new cars because they are more reliable and have lower (immediate) maintenance costs than used cars. Her basic concern is safety. She doesn’t want to get stuck on a freeway at 10 PM to change the alternator. Her argument has merit of course. But the last time we needed to replace a car, I made a different argument.
I suggested that we buy a two-year old car with a very good reputation for reliability. I explained to her that it would save us thousands and thousands of dollars and it was a smart economic move. I explained depreciation and even illustrated my points using interactive charts and graphs! Sadly for me, my magic didn’t work.
In her mind, used cars mean less safety. Since you can’t put a price tag on safety, she wasn’t interested in my genius idea.
“You are right,” I said, “safety is the number one priority.”
I really meant it and I wasn’t trying to get her to change her mind. She was right…safety is number one. I was being selfish and inconsiderate. By being open to her viewpoint, I stopped the arguing right there.
Of course that’s not the end of the story. After I told her she was right, I started thinking about ways we could satisfy both our needs.
I suggested that we could spend money on a better, safer car if we bought one that was a couple years old. This would provide MORE safety and save us the big depreciation cost when purchasing a brand new auto.
BINGO! This worked and I am now the owner of a pre-owned Lexus. My dream car.
We stopped fighting when I put myself in her shoes and found a solution to both our problems.
How You Can Use This Idea
Always look for common ground. When you have a financial disagreement, look for the wisdom in the other person’s position and try to find a way to satisfy their requirements. Find a way to tell the other party, “You are right.” Don’t lie about it and don’t just say it. Find a way that you can say it and mean it.
Once you do that the other person will be more inclined to find a way to say, “You are right also.”
Have you ever tried this approach? How has it worked? Have you ever done something like this and had it backfire?
Do you have a better approach to solving financial disputes with your partner?