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Husband and Wife Photo

we need to talk!

by Norma J. Goldman




Find out more about the the Free Will Baptist Board of Retirement at



THREE SIMPLE WORDS, “Can we talk?” might just begin one of the most important conversations of your life. “What about?” your spouse replies.

“Oh, I was thinking about making plans for retirement. We need to take a look at our finances.”

“Maybe later,” he replies. “Today’s not a good day.”

Sound familiar? And what about those who never ask the first question?

A popular national talk show host takes calls from people who struggle with financial issues and believe they don’t have the support of their spouse. After the caller vents her frustration, the host invariably says, “I’ll help you all I can, but you should really have this conversation with your husband!” “Does your wife know how you feel about this? Have you shared these dreams with your family?” In nearly every instance the answer is “No, we haven’t really talked about it.”

Why is it so hard for people to communicate with the most important people in their lives about the most important subjects? The Wall Street Journal reports that personal finance remains one of the last refuges for privacy in America, and many financial disagreements stem from fundamentally different ways of thinking about money.

These beliefs about money stem from life experience, including those formed before marriage. These beliefs may find their origin in your parents and other early childhood influences.


Husband and Wife Arguing

Other reasons cited by the article for not discussing financial matters in a relationship include:

  • He (she) always gets angry when we talk about money;

  • She (he) is against saving for the future, since we are hardly getting by now;

  • We have plenty of time to work on this later; retirement is still many years away;

  • He wants to retire to the lake, but I want to stay near our children. Until he changes his mind, there’s no point in talking;

  • She thinks finances are my job.

While your family may not be so outspoken, perhaps you still haven’t had that all-important talk about how and where you will live in retirement, what sacrifices will be required to maintain your standard of living, and, even more important, how you will resolve differences on money matters.

Whether or not you admit it, failure to communicate breeds resentment, tension, and uncertainty—definitely not ingredients for a happy relationship! Rather than focusing on areas of known (or perceived) disagreement, schedule four to five 30-minute discussions on the following topics:

  • This is my dream of what retirement should look like;

  • This is what I would be willing to do now to achieve financial peace;

  • If we could move into retirement without debt, this is how it would impact our family;

  • This is where I would most like to live in retirement, and why.

By limiting the discussion to 30 minutes and following a simple agenda, you will limit the opportunity for argument, but there will be time for each partner to be heard, and that’s the key word.

Agenda: Give each partner 10 minutes to share his/her thoughts while the other makes notes about what is expressed. The listening partner must do just that—no interruptions, no questions, no challenges. Each partner has five of the remaining 10 minutes to describe what he or she learned by listening. As before, the listener simply listens and records. Both agree to pray about what was shared before the next meeting, asking God to give direction on creating a plan that will honor Him and strengthen the marriage.

These simple steps will put you in a stronger position to create a workable plan with or without outside help. We need to talk!


About the Writer: Former magazine editor Norma Goldman enjoys a free-lance writing career in her retirement. She lives in Nashville, TN. For more information about the Board of Retirement, call (877) 767-7738 or visit


©2008 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists