How to Talk Career and Finances with Your Significant Other
Budding romances are the best. Every day seems sunnier and everything your significant other does seems to be perfect. But those days don’t last forever. You may start to see things that aren’t ideal in their behavior and question whether they are deal breakers or simply personality differences. Funny enough, there are two topics that really could be deal breakers that no one wants to talk about. What are they? Career and finance.
I personally don’t feel that these issues on the surface should be deal breakers. I wouldn’t love my fiance less even if he was less ambitious than I. Nor would he refuse to marry me because of my student loan debt. What’s really important in these issues is what lies beneath. It’s not about how people view career and finances, but why they view them the way they do.
Talking to Your Significant Other About Careers
Talking about careers is easier than talking about money, so let’s start there. And don’t forget, location is a big factor in your career. So once you feel like this is a person you may want to settle down with, you’ll need to have a good understanding of whether or not this is possible. Here are a few potential scenarios:
- Your significant other is happy with career and location
- Your significant other is unhappy with career but happy with location
- Your significant other is happy with career but unhappy with location
- Your significant other is unhappy with career and unhappy with location
- Your significant other is flexible
- Your significant other could care less
Make sure you know how you feel about all of this when finding out what your significant other feels. This isn’t meant to find deal breakers, but it is an important exercise in understanding who the both of you are and if you’re truly compatible.
For example, if one of you is highly motivated in career but the other isn’t, that could signify a difference in your core values. While this may not be an issue now, it could become a point of contention later. On the other hand, your significant other might be very happy in career and even give you career tips to find the same happiness. I know this firsthand – I was always highly driven, but unsure which direction to go in. My fiance helped me debate this for a year and now I have the job of my dreams!
How should you broach this topic? Start with a daydream together. Ask what your significant other would do if they could do anything – and where they would live. Do the same for yourself. The answers may show that you’re both nomads at heart, that you both are driven but put more importance on being near family than getting promotions, or it could show a healthy balance of differences between you two. By starting without limits, you’ll understand both of your passions and unveil your inner selves to each other.
Next, talk about steps you’ll each take to achieve your goals. This will be the true indicator of whether or not you understand each other’s career priorities. The fact is, even if your goals are compatible, your methods to achieve them might not be. For example, you might both be career-oriented, but one values finding joy in work while the other values earnings more. In cases like this, you’ll have to see if you can come to a mutual understanding of each other’s points of view.
Talking to Your Significant Other About Money
Now that you’ve tackled the career talk, the money talk should be a natural progression. Just like with careers, you don’t have to agree on everything. What you need to know is if you can meet halfway. Again, remember how important the why is before you jump to any conclusions.
For example, if your significant other values money over fulfillment, don’t assume that’s because of superficial reasons. Perhaps they grew up in a family that struggled financially. That could lead to a prioritization of stability over a desire for daily happiness at work. On the same token, you might feel more fulfilled by earnings than love for your work. Don’t be scared to say this is how you feel. You can’t find middle ground if you aren’t honest about where you stand.
So how can you initiate this talk if it didn’t happen naturally after the career talk? Just ask questions. Tell your significant other that you’re curious about how they feel, but don’t fire questions like an inquisition. If you let the conversation flow naturally while withholding judgement, then hopefully they will feel comfortable enough to open up and even ask you questions as well. This isn’t something you two will figure out in a day, so take your time and get comfortable exploring these topics together.
It’s not easy to face the realities of future when you’re still in the exciting beginning stages of a relationship. You don’t want to do anything to scare your special someone off! But once you’re ready to get serious, it’s time to understand each other’s philosophies on career and finance. This doesn’t have to be scary though! By approaching these topics lightly and building up over time, you can be sure that the discussions will be organic and maybe even fun!
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