With Black Friday heading for us light a speeding bullet, stress fractures start appearing in many marriages. Husbands become nervous about the spending on the horizon, and wives start making lists three miles long. As the day arrives and the stresses collide, it’s the recipe for the perfect storm, Black Friday style.
How can you avoid disaster? Here are some simple tips to save you from Black Doomsday:
- Schedule a meeting. This is the perfect way to start thinking about what you want to say and avoiding the ‘open mouth, insert foot’ moments that happen when big conversations start on the fly.
- Take notes. Write down the points you want to talk about at your meeting. Keep them simple, and not persnickety.
- Show up. When a husband and wife come together for a budget meeting, it’s serious. Don’t blow it off because you’re afraid it will turn into a fight.
- Use ‘I’ statements. Avoid things like, “In the past, you’ve spent so much money that we can’t pay our December bills.” Instead, use statements like, “I really want Christmas to be awesome this year, and you’re so good at finding deals. Let’s set a budget together.”
- Listen without interruption. This goes for both of you. If you need to, jot notes while the other person is talking just to remember them.
- Take turns talking. Explain your point, have your spouse validate that he or she understood, and then let them talk.
- Be realistic in your budget and make and make a pact to stick to it. The roof over your head is way more important than a plastic toy your children won’t even remember in two years.
- Talk about any large Christmas purchases such as a gaming system for the family or a new television. Don’t ever make a large purchase without talking to your spouse, no matter how good the deal is, especially if it will put you over budget.
- Be prepared to compromise. If one of you sets a budget that the other feels is too high or too low, this is a good time to take a deep breath and come together on a number you can both live with.
- Start talking about how to make Christmas shopping easier in years to come. Some people set up an account at the bank and put some money in it every month. Some plan big garage sales to pay for it. Come up with your own plan, and you’ll avoid future Black Friday melt-downs.
Some parts of a marriage have to be run just like a business, and when it comes to budget meetings, leave your emotions at the door, don’t keep score about past issues, and use it as a communication learning tool.
Trust me, you’re gonna love it!