Three P's Make a Compatible Money Pod

09/07/2011 06:06 pm ET | Updated Nov 07, 2011

I've recently had conversations with three very different couples--different backgrounds, different ages, different cultures--but they shared a commonality in financial incompatibility. They've managed to stay married throughout their frustrations and foibles but with little success in bridging the gap in lifestyle priorities and satisfaction.

Unfortunately, over the last thirty years I've been involved with similar couples and similar challenges in trying to work out a compromise in meeting both needs and designing suitable solutions. In many cases, the couples have ultimately achieved a suitable strategy in their life plans, but in some cases, it wasn't possible for the couples to achieve such a compromise.

These couples failed for many reasons including poor communication skills, inability to compromise, the need to "be right", lack of respect and compassion for a partner's needs, lack of common goals, differences in personalities and shared values among others.

It became clear in our "money talk" sessions that these couples were too far apart and too stuck in their own positions to work toward a more compromised money management style. Rather than focus on the failures, I'd like to give you the essence of what worked positively for couples.

Here are some guidelines and tips gleaned from the successful couples and our money talks:

• Come from a position of "good will" in trusting that your partner has your best interest in mind.

• Understand the power of fear in preventing change and break through that barrier with continual focus on making small steps toward your common goals.

• Work on understanding vs. judging your partner's emotions and beliefs about money as the foundation for the behaviors that you experience. In that context, talk about a way to proceed for mutual satsfaction and success.

• Keep your money talks short, goal-oriented and positive. If you start to fight over the small stuff, get back on track keeping the big picture in mind of what you most want to achieve.

• Start your conversations with what you both have in common.

• Manage the differences in the context of the common and compatible goals making minor adjustments for joint successful solutions.

• Help one another feel confident and empowered. Teach and assist rather than dictate.

• In a team, there's always two points of view and that can be an asset rather than a liability if perceived advantageously.

Money talks can be positive, productive and profitable.