Six Money Questions To Grow Closer To The Person You Love

“You aren't wealthy until you have something money can't buy."
― Garth Brooks

“Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers."
― Tony Robbins

Two years ago the New York Times ran an article titled “The 36 Questions That Lead to Love,” based on the “idea that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness.” My wife and I have thoroughly enjoyed working our way through them together. Interestingly, none of those questions were about money. But when most people think about discussing money with their partner, falling in  love more deeply is not the first thing that comes to their mind. You’ve probably heard before that disagreements about finances are the leading cause of contention in marriages. It’s scary. Opening up about our finances requires vulnerability about hopes and dreams, our sense of security, and our feelings of inadequacy, pride, and self-worth. It’s heavy stuff. But this is precisely why it can be so enriching to engage in these discussions with our partner.

The context of these conversations is crucial. Do we have the time, energy and space to listen to each other? Or do we hold most of our conversations about spending and saving just in passing or in the heat of a loaded conversation about something else?

I contend that learning about each other’s views of money not only can deepen our relationship with our partner, it also allows us to truly understand what we value. Over the course of a discussion we might realize that what we spend our money on doesn’t reflect what we actually want in our lives. For example, we may think that we value money for the freedom it provides, yet suddenly realize that we spend long days and nights building our career and delaying vacations, and spending our income on luxury items rather than using it to spend more time with those we love! We may know that we derive great joy from giving a portion of our earnings away, yet realize that our intentions don’t always line up with our actual giving.

Today I’d like to offer my six question addition to the New York Times’ list. Consider it an invitation to schedule time with your partner to grow together. Maybe a morning by the pool, or a lazy Sunday afternoon hike will allow you to learn something new about your partner or solidify in your own mind how you can further align your actions and your values.

The Six Questions

  1. What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about money?
  2. How did you feel when you received your very first paycheck, and what did you do with it?
  3. If you were given $1.5 million today and had to allocate it in three equal amounts of $500,000, where would it go?
  4. Think about the last time you felt really excited about using your money for a specific purpose or purchase. Why is this a good memory for you?
  5. How did your parents spend their money, and how do you think this influences the way you think about money now?  
  6. Imagine that you found out today that you have just a year to live. You won’t feel sick and you’ll be in good health all the way through your last day. How would you want to spend your time this next year, and what would you regret that you won’t be able to experience or accomplish in this life?