You’re in the middle of making dinner, helping your kids with homework, about to return a call, send an important email … you know, busy with life ... when out of nowhere, you and your spouse have a spat. Suddenly, fireworks are flying—and I don’t mean the pretty kind.

You’re left scratching your head, wondering, “What just happened here? One minute, everything was fine, we were going about our day. The next minute, we’re in an argument over what!?”

“Oh, yeah. Money. Again!”

Does this sound familiar?

Money is said to be one of the leading causes of stress in a marriage. It tops the list of “Top 10” argument starters, and as a result, many couples avoid talking about the subject altogether. And when they finally do, which is inevitable in any marriage, well, the conversation can quickly escalate into a sparring match.

So do you just accept the impending volatility around money as part of marriage? You don’t have to.

The Torah’s ways are “pleasant ways, and all its paths are peace.”1 Our sages have always emphasized that G‑d dwells where there is peace. Peace is the vessel for G‑d’s blessings. “Great is peace, the vessel that contains and sustains G‑d’s blessings.”2

The emphasis on peace is even greater when it comes to family life—in particular, the relationship between husband and wife. In fact, the Talmud explains that G‑d will even allow His holy name to be erased in water in order to bring peace between husband and wife.3

You want peace. Your spouse wants peace. And so does G‑d.

So, how can you achieve peace and harmony around the topic that seems to rival the stock market’s volatility?

Allow me to offer a practical solution. It’s called the “Money Date.”

What is a ‘Money Date’?

A “Money Date” is an appointment with your spouse when you talk intimately, openly and respectfully about what tends to be an emotionally charged topic: your finances.

It gives you and your spouse the opportunity to understand and discuss each of your views, concerns, habits and upbringing around money. After all, as our sages have said, “No two people think alike.”4

How to arrange the ‘Money Date’

  1. Schedule it regularly. It could be weekly, two times a month, or at the very least, on a monthly basis. No more impromptu conversations about credit-card statements, travel, shopping or retirement accounts.
  2. Limit the time. Plan on 30 minutes to one hour maximum. “If you take hold of too much, you hold nothing,”5 so aim for short consistent dates, instead of long, overwhelming ones that spiral out of control. Talking about money can be emotionally and mentally draining, so set a limit and stick with it.
  3. Have an agenda. If and when something comes up that is related to money and needs attention, don’t tackle it in the midst of your busy schedules. Instead, add it to the upcoming agenda of your “Money Date” and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that this will be addressed at the proper time. If you share electronic calendars, just jot down your agenda items in the notes as you think of them.
  4. Lighten the mood. Will you go to a park, a coffee shop? Sit on the couch with your laptops and notepads? Work on the kitchen table while drinking hot cocoa? Offer some dark chocolate? Make it fun. Bring your personalities. It’s called a date for a reason.
  5. Invite G‑d. He is the third partner in your marriage. Use this as an opportunity to strengthen your trust in G‑d, the One who ultimately decides how much money we make. Discuss ways in which you can strengthen your connection to the Source of all blessings through additional mitzvot, or increased Torah learning (you might consider focusing on portions that address bitachon - trust in G‑d). Share stories of people who lived with bitachon, and/or concrete examples of how G‑d has been with you many times in the past.
  6. Create a safe space. Do not shame or blame. Bring a lot of empathy and patience to the date.
  7. Express gratitude. You will find many things to be grateful about, starting from the fact that you’ve both taken the time to have this “Money Date.” Thanking G‑d Almighty for everything that you have in your life will put any financial tensions or challenges into proper perspective.
  8. Take turns listening. Without interrupting. Money conversations are never just about the numbers. Allow yourself to discover where both of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors around money come from. Each of you comes with a family background and set of experiences around money that shaped you. If you really listen, you’ll learn a lot about yourself and each other!

Now that you’re on your way to mastering the regular “Money Date,” open your calendars again. This time, schedule a regular date with your spouse, one when you don’t talk about money. From now on, allow the volatility to stay where it belongs—in the stock market.

And enjoy the peace!