Avoiding the Moo-la Meltdown: More on the B Word

first_imgSpeak Non-Defensively – This kind of language is an art form that usually includes speaking with a soft voice, using complaint statements that start with “I feel…” rather than “You…” statements, and garnering the listener’s trust in our ability to communicate effectively without eliciting defensiveness. “We” statements can also be helpful (e.g., “We need to start going to the gym.” or “We should talk about money issues.”). This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network Blog on September 27, 2013 The Four Don’ts The Five Do’s Using a money management calendar can be helpful for getting your finances organized with your spouse or partner. You can learn more about calendar based budgeting by viewing this web conference here.You can learn more about the 9 Skills for Successful Couple Communication here.To learn more about how to discuss finances with you family, please visit Family and Consumer Science’s MoneyWi$e. By Katie Stamper, Program Assistant and Dr. Michael S. Gutter Talking to your family about money can be a hard thing to do. Money is a taboo topic to some and others may feel discouraged to talk about something they don’t have enough of. Though it may be hard to do at first, talking about money with your family can help avoid the moo-la meltdown.When talking to your family about money, honesty is the best policy. Nothing is gained when bills or debt are not accounted for or ignored. Crunch the numbers and calculate how much debt there is and how much money is in the family’s accounts and on hand. These figures give everyone a realistic picture of the family’s finances, which is beneficial when creating a spending plan.As a family, track your expenses because every dollar adds up. Encourage one another to be accountable for what they spend. Track your expenses for a month and then create a budget for next month. When tracking your expenses you may be surprised at how frivolously money is  spent, which could be used for paying down debts.Creating a family budget requires not only honesty but also flexibility. Most likely not everyone is going to agree or see eye-to-eye. If tension arises, try to create compromises instead of conflict. Compromises can be reached if everyone gives a little. The moo-la meltdown can also be avoided by creating an environment that is safe and judgment free; an environment where everyone can share their feelings, needs, and wants. After each family member has shared, create a SMART goal as family. The SMART goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timed. Creating a goal as a family can build unity and encourage future family discussions. As a family, track the progress of the goal. This is a great way to keep the discussion going and avoiding moo-la meltdowns. Consider the 9 Skills for Successful Communication:Table 1. Understanding the 9 Important Communication Skills (Adapted from Gottman 1994) Defensiveness – Feeling injured by others in response to criticism and contempt and refusing to take responsibility for personal actions. Being defensive blocks a couple’s ability to deal with an issue. Even if one partner feels completely justified in his/her actions, becoming defensive will only add to the couple’s problems. Overlearn Skills – To overlearn means to master the 8 other skills so that they remain available to you even when you are tired, stressed, or angry. Calm Down – If your heart is beating more than 90 beats-per-minute, it becomes more difficult to access the “logical” part of your brain. Disengaging from an interaction before something hurtful is said should last for at least 25 minutes or longer for a person to really calm down. Otherwise, it is easy to slip back into an emotionally charged conversation and to say things that are hurtful and damaging to the marital friendship. Validate – To validate another person we must:Listen with our eyes, ears, mind, and heart.Listen to the needs and emotions being expressed.Use bridge phrases and words such as “And then what happened?”; “How did that make you feel?”; “Really? You’re kidding?”; “What are you going to do now?”; “How can I help?”; “Uh-huh.”; “Yes/No/Why?”; etc., to let them know you are listening. Complain – Being passive and sweeping relationship issues under the rug by internalizing our complaints and emotions without expressing them will only serve to trip us up later on. Bringing up a complaint about a specific issue or behavior is actually one of the healthiest activities a couple can engage in (e.g., “When you fail to call me to let me know you are going to be late, it makes me feel like you aren’t considering my feelings and the fact that I will worry about you”). Stonewalling – Withdrawing from interactions and refusing to communicate at all. When couples refuse to communicate about their issues, the relationship becomes fragile. (Note: It is completely fair in a relationship to explain to your partner that you are overloaded emotionally and that you need to call a “Time Out” to take a break and calm down before you say something you don’t mean). Contempt – Intentional insulting, name-calling, mocking, rolling the eyes, or sneering. ReferencesHarris, V.W. (2012) 9 Important Communication Skills for Every Relationship. http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fy1277Gottman, J.M. (1994). Why Marriages Succeed or Fail. New York: Fireside. Criticism – Attacking someone’s personality or character with accusation and blame (e.g., “You never think of anyone else,” or “How can you be so selfish?”).last_img

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