Trust is being able to rely on someone, no matter what. Trust is knowing that you’re both working towards the same endgame. Trust is being able to express your ideas, concerns, and brainstorm on how to get from point A to point B without judgment, ego, or the need to be right hijacking the conversation. Trust is something that takes time, integrity, and flexibility to have in a relationship.
I don’t believe that trust is a given. Even once you’re married, building trust continues. One of my favorite lessons from two dear friends who have been married for over 20 years is that it takes time, it isn’t always blissful, but having trust in the most important relationship of your life is something absolutely worth working towards, fighting for, and ultimately becoming a stronger person and couple.
When researchers analyze couples and their finances, it is consistent across the board that financial trouble, stress, or lack of trust is one of the greatest contributors to divorce. It goes without saying, divorce is one of the greatest issues impacting American families today
. How do we make families stronger? How do we empower couples to find trust? Professionals across different industries will have different insights into this, but as a financial planner, here are a few things that have contributed to building trust in my family:
Have a Plan and Plan on it
Recently, my husband and I took my mom to Europe. She had just turned 65, she had never been there before, and it was a lifelong dream of hers. My childhood was significantly impacted by my Mom’s love of Europe, specifically the United Kingdom, which included competitive highland dancing (watch the video and then try tossing a caber). As my mom’s 65th birthday approached, my husband and I agreed that we would take her to the UK. We worked on this plan for over a year – set a price alert on Kayak for flights from Denver to London 12 months in advance, compared prices as well as the pros and cons of staying at hotels versus AirBnB, and checked out exchange rates as the date approached. By the time we took off, we were able to pay for those two weeks in Europe with cash! Regardless of what event it is that you’re planning for: working on it together, designating tasks, creating and executing a plan to make it happen goes a long way in building trust.
Have a Spending Cap
Something very simple that my husband and I have implemented is that if we want something and it is going to cost more than $100, we call to check in and discuss it with one another. For some, maybe the cap is $50. For others, maybe it is $500. It doesn’t matter how much money, savings, or income you have, it’s more about communication and having an agreement that you both adhere to, which builds trust.
Having an Overall Financial Strategy with Clear Steps and Trajectory
Both parties in any relationship have an endgame that they want to get to. Understanding and having a mutual ground of what the endgame looks like and an agreed upon the pathway of getting there is critical in building trust. This includes saving money - not just for one big goal like retirement - but also all the various things that come up in between i.e. vacations, home remodels, starting a business, etc. It includes setting aside designated funds that provide protection and risk mitigation in your plan should a health crisis occur for either partner. And, it includes a strategy for paying down debt in a way that feels attainable and allows you to live your day-to-day. In the end, Time is our most valuable resource; and, yes – it will take time to establish the above. But, as a plan comes into focus, as contingency measures are met, and as you build understanding, the time spent ultimately binds you and your partner's financial life, creating lasting and immovable trust.