Monday, March 15, 2021

Women Talk Money during the Pandemic


One of the more remarkable surveys I’ve read about was the one asking women to rank “talking about money with their [male] partner/spouse” against a list of other activities.  I don’t remember all the choices, but I do remember that 64% of women would rather go to the dentist than talk to their spouse about money.

My conclusion: 36% of women have a really bad dentist.

Seriously.   I’m not sure I know a woman who enjoys talking about money with her spouse, and that includes my own lovely wife.   I would go so far as to say women in general do not like talking about money at all, with anybody.  It’s a chore, not unlike cleaning the bathroom.

Would it surprise you to learn that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic women have begun talking more with their families—spouse included—about money?  It shouldn’t.  In a crisis, people typically want to talk to someone, bounce ideas off others, or just express their fears and worries to someone with a sympathetic ear.  And that is where you, guys, have a golden opportunity to step up and help your significant other.

What is it that makes talking money with the husband such an undesirable activity for the wife?  I suspect it largely rests with the tendency of men to either want to protect their wife from the mundane details of finances or to believe their wife has no interest in the subject.  To be fair, many women don’t want to know all the money details, especially investing, and that is unfortunate.  But many do and are put off by the male know-it-all attitude or, frankly, our tendency to make it more complicated that it needs to be.

So what can you do to make the woman in your life more comfortable talking about finances?

1.       Don’t sugarcoat the situation.  Be honest and forthright about the money situation.  Trust is at the heart of every relationship.

2.       Remember she is your equal and treat her as such.  Oh, she may not know the difference between a regular IRA and a Roth IRA (or she may surprise you!), but that is not the determinant of value in the money discussion.  Remember, her future is at stake, too.

3.        Honor the perspective a woman can bring to a money discussion.  I remember President Ronald Reagan purposely surrounded himself with advisers who had differing opinions on critical topics.  It enabled him to see all sides of a situation so he could make an informed decision.  Your wife is your closest advisor and likely sees things just a bit differently than you.  Listen to her.

4.       Loosen up—or tighten down.  I have tendency to take a harsh line with money decisions.  Dare I say “cheapskate”?  I make what I think are logical decisions and don’t always let my human sympathy play a part.  My wife softens that side of me.  I think I shocked her last night when I told her that in retirement I might stop tracking our gifts expenditures for the grandkids as a budget item.  You must understand, that is a radical decision for me.  I track everything and have filled notebooks with the financial details of our lives.  But if we are comfortable with how our finances look for the next 30 years, why stress over one more column in my ledger book?  Nor do I want to stereotype here.  In some couples the cheapskate is the wife and the husband brings the softer touch.  A lot depends on our upbringing.  Either way, be open to your wife’s influence.  She’s in your life for a purpose.

5.       Avoid The Money Talk.  You notice, I don’t say avoid talking about money.  You NEED to talk about money.  But don’t save the discussion for a one-time, let’s-have-it-out-now event.  Talking about money needs to be a normal event, not a dreaded confrontation.  Make it a part of your routine, perhaps a once-a-month evening out to talk about finances, or even over candlelight supper at home.  Don’t make it an ominous, threatening event.

Until next time,


“That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24*

*Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®

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