Avoiding conflicts about money

January 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
It's easy to argue about money these days, but there are ways you can avoid conflict. Dr. John Gray, author of "Why Mars and Venus Collide," expalins how you can work through stressful topics without reaching the breaking point.

Dr. John Gray's advice:

Ways that couples can solidify their relationships and ultimately avoid conflict over financial matters. By learning how to talk about money and break down issues, couples work through these stressful topics without reaching breaking point.

1. Abandon perfection and instead compromise. Realize that wanting things to be perfect rather than stress-free is the problem. You have to prioritize stress-free, otherwise you'll be exhausted and your partner will only feel further away from you.

2. Choose your battles. When differences show up, determine how important this is to your partner and give a little here to get what you really want at another time. It is also OK to ask your partner to compromise on this one issue, if it is really important.

3. Men should take longer to listen to their partner's point of view. When differences show up remind your partner that you want to understand their perspective better and ask more questions. Gather information about her perspective two to three times longer than you would think and then she can feel you are truly taking in her point of view.

4. Women should make an extra effort to acknowledge the logic or possible benefit of the man's perspective. Comments like, "That makes sense, you are saying?" can go a long way to diffuse tension.

5. Postpone finding resolution by saying let's think about this and then talk about it the next day. A good night's sleep can help put things in a better light.

Three common mistakes both men and women make when they argue about money:

MEN: 1. Don't use a detached or indifferent tone of voice: Men can care so much about being right that they don't realize their tone can sound uncaring. She hears he doesn't care about her and becomes defensive.

2. Don't dismiss her feelings: To make his point he will dismiss her feelings as unimportant but she feels he is saying she is unimportant. Don't say, "Don't worry about it" or "You are getting upset over nothing."

3. Don't interrupt her to make a point: In basketball it is fine to steal the ball to make a shot but in arguments it only fuels the fire.


1. Don't use strong emotional tones. Women use emotional tones to communicate their need to talk about a problem but men hear it as emotional manipulation and become defensive.

2. Don't express doubts by asking too many questions. Instead directly express concerns. Instead of saying, "Why would you want to do that?" she could be more direct and say, "If we do that then this might happen."

3. Don't focus on what's wrong with his ideas and what's good about yours. He hears criticism rather than the merits of her perspective.

Buy the book on Amazon: Why Mars and Venus Collide

About the book:
Today's hectic and career-oriented environment, paired with the current recession and economic unease, is resulting in unprecedented levels of stress in our lives. In WHY MARS AND VENUS COLLIDE: Improving Relationships by Understanding How Men and Women Cope Differently with Stress (Harper Perennial paperback; $13.99; ISBN: 978-0-06-124297-7; on sale: January 1, 2009), world-renowned relationship expert John Gray, PhD utilizes the signature building blocks from his bestselling earlier books-including his modern classic Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus- to examine how traditional male and female roles have evolved and how increased stress levels in our lives, affect our romantic relationships. Gray then offers a clear, easy-to-follow program to bridge the gap between the sexes and ultimately reduce stress and improve relationships.

While changing gender roles over the last 100 years have severely increased stress in our lives, Gray explains that men and women naturally react to stress in vastly different ways, and shows how without understanding Mars and Venus' differences, couples will experience unnecessary frustration-and the battle of the planets will truly begin. According to Gray, "Most men and women are completely unaware that they are hardwired to react differently to pressure, which only adds to the increasing tension."

Backed up by groundbreaking scientific research that dissects the radically different biological needs of men and women, WHEN MARS AND VENUS COLLIDE offers effective communication strategies that will actually lower stress, allowing men and women to create a lifetime of love and harmony.