Relational Maintenance Strategies, Positivity, and Constructive Financial Conversations in Romantic, Committed Partnerships
Bourdeaux, Renee Jeneanne
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Although a large body of research on financial management in marriages and conflict/divorce as outcomes of financial problems exists, the topic of how individuals describe the communicative processes leading to positive outcomes regarding financial conversations remains understudied. Because financial conversations emerge as a strong “tug-of-war” opponent to the successful partnership couples hope to achieve, this study sought to understand how romantic pairs talk about money in ways that lead to positive results. By using an interpretive approach, this study used online, open-ended survey questions to gather stories to better understand how married couples effectively discuss finances. The participant stories explained how individuals in committed romantic partnerships described successful conversations they had with their partner about money. The data were thematically coded using Spradley’s (1979) taxonomic coding categories. The stories from the 100 participants revealed specific strategies that couples used during positive financial conversations that led to positive relational outcomes. This study first reveals a taxonomy of tactics that individuals use in positive conversations about finances. Second, this study supports and offers new contributions to relational maintenance literature (Canary & Stafford, 1992; Stafford, 2011; Stafford & Canary, 1991; Stafford et al., 2000) regarding how maintenance strategies are used when talking about money. Finally, this study offers a taxonomy of reported relational outcomes for couples who have positive financial conversations. The knowledge gained from this study will be helpful to all couples who wish to positively navigate financial matters.