| A Better You |

Money Talks: Part 1 

There are many reasons why spouses won’t talk about money

Money Talks Part 1
Rivky Rothenberg and Tsippi Gross


“My husband won’t talk about money… but he manages our finances. Every time I ask him how much I should be spending on something or if we can afford something, he gets upset and refuses to talk about it. He just tells me to buy whatever I need. It’s not that I don’t trust him, and I’m pretty sure we’re fine. I just feel really anxious not knowing what I should or shouldn’t be spending and wish I could have a clear plan.”


“My wife loves to shop. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t bring piles of packages in. When I try asking my wife what she’s ordering, if we really need it, or how much it costs, she just gets upset. She tells me she only orders clothing the kids need or things she needs to run the house, and she’s not overspending.
“I’ve tried discussing a budget with her but she gets uptight that we don’t have enough money and that she won’t be able to buy what she needs. I really want to be putting money away, and I don’t think we need quite so much, but I also want my wife to be happy. Maybe she really does need everything? So I’ve stopped talking about it. I’ll just figure it out as I go along.”


There are many reasons why spouses won’t talk about money. Some grew up in a home where finances were a source of stress, or otherwise taboo. Some feel threatened because they’re not doing a great job managing their money, and they themselves aren’t clear on what needs to be done. Some don’t want their spouse to know that there is any issue financially. Some may feel it’s their job to balance their books, and discussing finances with their spouse makes them feel they’re not trusted. Some spouses may struggle with their own anxiety around money, and shutting down their spouse or refusing to talk about money is an anxiety-fueled response. And the above is just a small sampling of reasons why our spouses may not be open to financial conversations.

While it may seem easier to let it go or not have the conversation, it’s important to find healthy ways to communicate about money so that we can feel secure and supported, on the same page, make healthy choices with our money, take responsibility as a spouse, and model responsible behaviors for our children.

Rivky Rothenberg, CPA, has vast experience helping families with money. Tsippi Gross is a business consultant and fractional COO who focuses on results. Together they started Ashir, a nonprofit financial consulting program to help families go from financial stress to money confidence. Rivky and Tsippi can be reached via Family First.


The Lessons We Teach
Shoshana Schwartz

You’ve just finished all the laundry, and your teenager dumps a shirt in the hamper saying, “I need this for tomorrow, okay?”

If you wash the shirt, you teach your child that you’re willing to do laundry on demand.

Your sister stops by with her toddler in tow. “I have to pop over to the store before it closes. You don’t mind watching her for a few minutes?”

If you do agree to watch your niece, you teach your sister that you’re willing to babysit with no prior notice or agreement.

You drove your neighbor to a wedding in another neighborhood, and now you’re ready to leave. “I just need another five or ten minutes,” she says.

If you wait for her, you teach her that you’re flexible and willing to work around her schedule.

These lessons can be either positive nor negative. If you have both the willingness and the ability to do these favors for other people, then each is a chesed, and you’re teaching others that you’re a good address for this type of chesed.

However, it’s possible that you’d rather not do these favors, and the only reason you comply is because you don’t feel you have a choice. After all, in each of these scenarios, no one actually asked. (Putting a question mark at the end of a statement is a clever way of telling someone without actually offering them a choice.) But you do have a choice. If undertaking any of these actions makes you feel resentful, misunderstood, or as if other people are “making you” do things, you might consider if your willingness to accommodate them is coming from a healthy place.

On those occasions when you choose to gracefully decline, your compassionate refusal teaches people more about you.

Shoshana Schwartz specializes in compulsive eating, codependency, and addictive behaviors.


The Real Story
Sara Eisemann

“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Of all forms of communication, verbal communication is often the least important one. Long before we open our mouth, we have already communicated so much about who we are. The energy we exude, the clothing we wear, the reputation we come with, our past history, the friends we keep, the affiliations we hold — they tell a story louder than any of our words can.

Our words tell the world what we want it to know; our actions tell the real story.


Sara Eisemann, LMSW, ACSW, is a licensed therapist, Directed Dating coach and certified Core Mentor.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 888)

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