Financial Foreplay: Are You Doing It?

Time and again money is cited as one of the top causes for fights in relationships and divorce.  One way to prevent wallet wars is to engage in financial foreplay.   But first… some basics.

What is financial foreplay? The process of getting to know your sweetie’s most intimate feelings about money.

Why is it so important? As one of my favorite personal finance bloggers, April Dykman, highlights in her piece “Do Savers Seek Out Spenders?” academic studies show we are hardwired to be attracted to our financial opposites.  There is quite literally something intoxicating about “financial otherness” in the early stages of a relationship… a feeling that can (and usually does) wear off after you walk down the isle. So as personal finance columnist Ron Lieber of The New York Times wisely points out, it’s important to identify your financial differences before you commit to debt do you part.  In this spirit, here are 3 fun questions you can ask your honey about money.

1. Fill in the blank with any word except EVIL: “Money is the root of all….”

      This simple question reveal a lot about how you each think about money.  Some people will say “opportunity or freedom” while others will say “fights or problems.”  This is a playful way to initiate a talk about how money was (or wasn’t) discussed when you were each growing up.

2. Fill in the blank:  “Rich people are…” This is another super telling question.  Some people will say “hardworking, driven” while others will say “lucky or spoiled.”  This question can help you broach your feelings about saving, spending, and financial goals.  Some people want to die with their spending perfectly timed to leave $0 in their pockets while others want to live off their interest and never touch their principal.

3. Scenario analysis – today you get $20 million & a diagnosis of a rare disease that will leave you dead in exactly 10 years.  What will you QUIT & what will you START? The most common answers I hear are quit my job and start traveling.  This question is a great way to highlight your core priorities, and make sure they are complementary.  If you love your honey “only because” she is a neurosurgeon or he is an investment banker – but her/his dream is to be a yoga instructor… you may want to talk about that!

Have you ever experienced financial tension in a relationship?

2 Replies to “Financial Foreplay: Are You Doing It?”

  1. Money is the root of all…. I answered “fun” first, then reconsidered and went with “freedom”.

    Opportunity is a good one too.

    I just asked my wife the same question, she said a number of things in this order: Banks, Journeys (then I think she really thought about the question and said) confusion, frustration, and stress.

    We grew up in very different households and I'm curious to know… based on our answers what would you say about “how money was (or wasn’t) discussed when each of us were growing up”?

    regarding the second question: Rich people are…

    Honestly I didn't answer, because I knew if I kept reading you would give me the answers 🙂

    But my wife said: arrogant and insensitive.

    We have definitely experienced financial tension. It generally revolves around all the useless crap she wants to buy!

    However, for the most part we are pretty in-sync when it comes to saving money. Our general plan is to save as much as possible so we can quit work to continue traveling by sailboat.

    1. Interesting isn’t it – so many emotions get pulled up by these seemingly “simple” questions… and very often contradictory ones. Thanks so much for sharing.

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