You’re sick and tired of being in debt, and you’re not going to take it any longer. In fact, you’re all fired up about getting out of debt.
There’s just one problem: your spouse isn’t on board. They may pay lip service, but they’re not following that up with action. Or worse, maybe they’re actually making things worse by going out and buying things on credit.
Start with why
If you’re having trouble getting your spouse on board, remember to start with why.
As Simon Sinek puts it in his book Start with Why, Martin Luther King Jr. “gave the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, not the ‘I Have a Plan’ speech.”. And in doing so, he inspired.
It’s inspiration that leads to action, and action leads to changes.
Share your dream
You’re getting out of debt for a reason, so share your vision of a debt free future. What will things be like? What will you be able to do then that you can’t now? What would your spouse be able to do that would get them excited?
Clearly articulate that instead of whipping out a spreadsheet and a proposed bare-bones budget. Inspire and sell the DREAM. (Which can become the reality when you’re both working together toward the common goal of debt freedom.)
THEN you can create a monthly budget that works for your family.
Add time and enthusiasm
You’ve also got to give your spouse time. After all, you didn’t decide to change overnight. Your thoughts percolated, you struggled, you researched solutions, you saw possibilities, and then you got excited.
Give your spouse time to do the same.
I talked about how great it would be to have a paid-for house for what felt like a long, long time before my husband came on board with that idea. Even then, there were things he wanted to do first before working on paying off our mortgage.
So we did those things.
In the meantime, I kept talking about my vision, and gave him time. After all, his ideas matter just as much as mine. Now, sometimes he is the one talking to me about how great things will be when we’re completely debt free. We keep imagining debt freedom.
So start with why. Inspire, and then act — while coming back regularly to your inspiration for shots of motivation.
Sometimes though, that’s not enough.
If there’s a deeper problem…
If there’s a deeper problem, such as if your spouse agrees with the things you say about getting out of debt but then goes out and does the opposite, or if they won’t even sit down to discuss the situation, then chances are the real problem is something else. It may not be that they don’t want to get out of debt. It may be that they’re afraid for some reason, lacking respect, avoiding, or that there are deeper marriage issues.
Money fights can be a symptom of another underlying issue. If that’s the case, your best shot is probably the tried-and-true recommendation of couples counseling so that you can identify and solve the root of the problem.
Look for a counselor that gels with you and understands what you’re trying to solve, and don’t assume that all counselors are alike. If you don’t have insurance or it doesn’t cover counseling, universities and some community resources may offer counseling for free, at a reduced fee, or on a sliding-scale based on your income.