As I’ve pointed out so many times before in these bankruptcy blogs, dealing with financial problems by casting blame never helps matters and almost always hurts. Since married couples’ financial issues are, by definition, intertwined (see Together For Debtor Or Worse), I’ve found it’s especially important for couples to work together – with their adviser as well as with each other – to tackle issues in coordinated fashion. During the more than twenty years I’ve worked with debtors to help; them through the bankruptcy process, not to mention having been married myself for all that time, I’ve learned how important it is for couples to discover ways of comfortably discussing money matters.
David Berky, in an article called “Why Do We Always Fight About Money?” writes that fights about finance boil down to lack of communication and selfishness. Problems occur when an important financial decision is made by one spouse without input from the other. Then, the need to be right vs. wrong in making financial decision is often very strong, Berky points out, especially in men. Women often feel their partner is “talking down” to them.
When it comes to the kind of serious and very stressful financial difficulties with which I typically help clients in my bankruptcy law offices around the state of Indiana, it’s all the more crucial, I find, to do what Berky calls “leaving your ego outside the door.” Important decisions with far-reaching consequences will need to be made. As I emphasized in my earlier blog Who’s To Blame, You, Me, Or We?, the most important thing is not casting blame but getting – and using – help in time. By the time couples (and sometimes business partners) are sitting in my office to discuss strategy, money has become a very sore spot in the relationship. Despite this (and maybe because of this stress and “soreness”, it’s a time to remember to talk in a patient and respectful way. It’s time for forgiveness, and most important, it’s time to talk FUTURE!