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7 Tips to Rally Your Spouse & Loved Ones Around Your Change!

in Do What You Love, Family, Money Basics, Pay Off Your Debt, Rants, Videos

Note: This is a post from Adam Baker, founder of Man Vs. Debt.

Note: Let me know what you think of the video above! It’s a sample daily video (Day 5) from the new 6-week You Vs Debt class!

There are hundreds of factors that weigh into the success of a change.

But time and time again, I’m convinced that one single factor outweighs all the others:

The support and excitement of a respected loved one!

I know for sure that the financial changes I’ve made, the growth of this community, or any of the strides I’ve made in person freedom and creativity wouldn’t have been possible without the support and excitement of Courtney.

It’s really that simple.

Courtney’s support has been the #1 factor in every positive change I’ve made in the last 5 years.

Now, don’t let me paint you a rose-colored picture here. Most times we don’t start on the same page. Many times getting to the same page isn’t the prettiest in the world. We are far, far away from being the perfect family or couple.

But we have found a way to prioritize being on each others’ bandwagon.

If Courtney believes deeply in something (and I’m aware enough to know that), I try to do my best to be her #1 supporter and fan. It may not happen overnight, but we are well aware of how important this support is in our lives!

But I know from experience that things don’t always go smoothly…

In addition to learning from our own mistakes, I’ve heard from hundreds and hundreds of readers of the last few years with similar hiccups.

Sometimes our own excitement and values can be so far apart from our loved ones that we can feel completely alone.

But that’s rarely the actual case. And in these vulnerable moments many times we can find ourselves scapegoating our loved ones:

“I’m ready for change, but my husband just won’t help me out…”

“We’d turn around our finances, but with three young kids in school we just have too much responsibility to do ____________.”

“My friends don’t get it…”

Some or all of these statements may be true in your life.

But it’s my experience that it’s easy to blame others than realize just how much control we DO have in our own lives.

I read a quote – or truth of sorts – a couple years ago and it stuck with me.

“The meaning of any communication is the response it elicits.”

I love this way of thinking, because it returns the responsibility for results back onto me. If Courtney doesn’t give me the response or support I’m looking for, it’s very likely a result of poor communication on my part.

This may not be true ALL of the time, but it’s definitely been true MOST of the time for me.

With this paradigm in mind, here’s a recap of the 7 tips from the video:

1. Realize you can’t change another person…

You can force, manipulate, coerce and brainwash… but not forever.

In the long-term, you can’t force lasting change onto anyone else.

Lasting change comes from within.

Trying to quickly force a change in another person will always blow up in your face. It elicits a defensive reaction and turns conversations into arguments in the blink of an eye.

But that doesn’t mean you are hopeless.

You can encourage change. You can model healthy change. You can communicate, listen, and evolve with those you love.

But the first step in the process is to realize you can’t change them.

2. Allow change to happen at its own pace…

Once you’ve realized that you can’t force or rush change, you learn that you have to allow it to occur at its own natural pace.

You’ve experienced circumstances and influences that have ignited an excitement or an urgency for change.

How selfish is it to expect that any other person immediately experience that same level passion? You are different people with different ways of processing influences in your environments!

You’ve got to respect your loved one’s internal timeframe for an organic build up of excitement.

That’s a fancy way of saying be patient.

I’m not telling you to wait forever. I’m not telling you to accept a lack of action or effort.

I’m simply suggesting that real excitement and passion only grows when there is room for it to happen naturally for each person involved.

Patience, young grasshopper. Patience.

3. Start with why this is important to you…

Whenever you approach your spouse or loved one, frame the entire discussion with why this change is important to you.

Not why this change is the right path.

Not why this change must be done.

Not what has been done wrong.

Not what some other person has done better.

Start with why this is important to you.

Reach deep down. Find the vulnerable, open, honest reasons why why you are excited and passionate about this change.

Most importantly, be optimistic. Be happy.

There is a time and place for recognizing and learning from errors. Moving away from a painful moment can be a big motivator in your journey.

But not now. This is not the time for that.

Start with optimism.

Start with why it’s important to you.

4. Seek their input…

After you state why it’s important to you, seek their input.

Ask them what’s important to them about the topic or part of your life you’ve just talked about.

Don’t ask them what they think about what you said. This is a formula for them to take the opposite side and defend.

Instead, ask them what’s important to them about ___________.

Then stop talking.

Don’t interrupt. Don’t risk breaking the flow.

Listen.

When they are done, this is often times a great place to end the initial conversation. There’s nothing wrong with a short discussion of what’s important and then some time away to think.

5. Leverage outside experiences and influences…

If I know one thing for sure, it’s that I’m terrible at having a Teacher/Student relationship with Courtney.

It’s probably a combination of my ego and my tendency to get offended when I recognize naivety in my own actions – but I simply don’t handle it well.

I can be taught by others. I do it all the time.

I love learning from a wide variety of sources…  just as long as that source is NOT Courtney!

All joking aside, it’s extremely difficult for most of us to swallow instruction or correction from someone we are that close with. We want those people to respect us so deeply that we completely block the potential to learn and grow from their experiences.

A great way to avoid this conflict is to leverage outside influences to help:

  • Take a class together. Courtney and I did this at the beginning of our financial turnaround.
  • Watch a documentary or movie about that topic. This is our method of choice for many healthy eating and food-related issues.
  • Send them an article, post, or recording. “Honey, check out this article I loved on ___________.”

Allowing them to leverage external influences will often make it far easier for people to accept responsibility for the new change!

6. Lead by example…

Even with the tips and suggestion on this list, one conversation isn’t going to magically cure all your woes.

Remember, this takes time. Open, honest conversations will help go a long way to building that foundation, but you may still have some patience to practice as your loved ones build that excitement.

While they come around, you don’t have to be sitting by idling.

Lead by example.

Take action. Model the behavior and the baby steps toward change that you are so passionate about.

If it’s financial change you are after, start tracking your own spending. Get your hands on a couple great books on the topic. Enroll in a course or class and start your journey.

Don’t force feed your loved ones, but show them with ACTION that you are serious and committed.

Hearing your words is nice, but seeing you walk the walk can inspire in a way words can’t.

7. Make it a family routine…

Last, but certainty not least, get the whole family involved in this process.

Make it a game. Make it fun, quirky, and interesting.

One of the best ways to get a spouse on board is to encourage yourself to include the kids.

The best example from my own life is when Courtney and I work out. Often times we’ll follow videos like P90X or Insanity and we almost always have Milligan do them with us.

Obviously, she just jumps around and rolls on the floor (and sometimes gets in the way at the WORST possible times), but her effect on motivation is significant.

If Courtney casually says “Milli and I are going to do today’s P90X video…” I’m about 500 times more likely to jump in and do it with them. If Courtney just goes to do it herself, I’ll sometimes her myself justifying “Oh go ahead, I’ll do it later on at a more convenient time for me…”

Yeah, right. That ends up happening about 10% of the time.

The simple fact is I’m much more likely to participate when I know it’s a family activity we are doing together.

This works to help get older kids involved, as well.

If kids see that both parents are on board with a goal or mission, they are FAR more likely to have excitement for the activity or change.

Even Milligan is willing to give half of her toys to the garage sale if she sees that Mommy and Daddy are all putting their stuff in the sale, too.

YOUR CHALLENGE (DON’T SKIP THIS)…

You know I’ve been on a big action kick lately, and this post is no different.

These tips are useless, unless you take action to apply at least one of them in your life today.

At the end of the video, I challenged You Vs Debt members to…

Schedule a 20-minute block of time to have a conversation with a loved one in your life.

You Vs Debt member or not, I want YOU to do this exercise.

Here are your ground rules for this conversation:

  1. 100% Distraction Free – No screens are are allowed in a 10 foot radius. No televisions, cell phones, computers, etc… It’s only 20 minutes, you can do it.
  2. Low stress and not tired – Ensure the conversation happens at a time that is low stress (unwind from work or business), but also when you aren’t tired (not right as you lay your head down at night).
  3. Lead with WHY it’s important to you – Remember tip #3. Start the conversation with why it’s important to you and then LISTEN.
  4. Never say “YOU” or “YOUR” – These two words are BANNED from the entire conversation. No exceptions.

Put this post to use in your life.

Schedule a 20-minute conversation for sometime this weekend.

Ready for more action steps to change your financial life? Get several awesome resources to “kickstart your money,”join the Man Vs. Debt community list by clicking here!

· Unautomate Your Finances ebook
· You Vs Debt Sample Lesson
· What to Sell Where Flow Chart
· Debt Payoff Tracker
· 10 Tips for an Effective Craigslist Ad

Share your experience and tips below…

I’ve mapped out everything I’ve learned from talking with hundreds of people over the last few years, but I want YOUR experience as well.

Have you had success getting on board with a spouse or loved one recently?

How do you rally your loved ones?

Share your frustrations, experience, and/or tips below with others!…

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Rich September 15, 2011 at 2:20 PM

Hi Adam,
You asked for feedback so here it is – I think you speak very well on camera, however I find the video difficult to watch as you’re moving your hands so much. A certain amount of hand movement helps to add impact to what you’re saying – but the amount you’re moving is making me a bit motion sick blair witch style.

Other than that – good message, good filming, good job!

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Baker September 15, 2011 at 3:00 PM

Thanks for the kind words and feedback! For some of the new videos, I’ll work on being more aware of my karate hand moves! :) Appreciate you taking the time to help. :)

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MK September 15, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Rich is correct the hand movement is very distraction BUT when you fixed that don’t go overboard and eliminate it altogether or you may seem robotic its a fine line.
Also top notch videos would love to see a post or two with tips on how others would do likewise.

On the material leading by example and making it a routine are great tips. In general I think leading is setting direction and leading by example. If a spouse has a destructive spending habit pure leadership and will may be needed vs. such a consensus driven approach

MK “THE DICTATOR”

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Financial Samurai September 19, 2011 at 10:29 PM

Lol, that’s the nicest and funniest backhanded comment Ive ever read!

Good job Adam. Yeah, the hand movement is kind schizo, but it’s all good. Hope you make a lot of money from your new course!

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Aaron September 15, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Great stuff Adam! Point 2 is pretty huge. I move on to new ideas in about five seconds flat. Consuelo moves slower. (Thank goodness!)
The whole article is right on and a great reminder. When I see husband and wife on the same bandwagon to learn a new language it makes so much difference. They have a way better chance of sticking with it long enough to really excel and reach their goals on the language learning journey. As always, great stuff.

Aaron

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Bianca @ Italian Fix September 15, 2011 at 2:55 PM

Hi, I loved your article Adam. It is a wicked important topic that I am really happy you touched on- whether it be a new business venture, or simply negotiating an upcoming holiday- getting your spouse excited about the same thing is an art!

I know this one well- I really wanted to start a website even though I had no idea how to do that- but I thought I had a really good idea. Getting my husband on board was a stretch and I admittedly went about it the wrong way because I was being too pushy. Now i have my site up and have even started seeing some pretty exciting results and have even got paying clients through it- so it is easier for him to be on board…now. But the best way to do it is to make all the big life decisions is as a team- together. It is so much more satisfying!
Thanks, as usual Adam, for some killer usable content. Consider it tweeted!
Bianca

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Fred @ SoloBizCoach.com September 15, 2011 at 4:31 PM

Hey Adam,

I love the video. What are you using to make that background? It looks great, and I want to be doing videos like that.

-Fred

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Jolyn September 15, 2011 at 5:13 PM

I think the video is great and very professional. I’ve been following for quite some time and I know how hard you’ve worked and it shows! You and Courtney are so ahead of the game tackling this topic at your age; so many a generation (or two or three!) older than you *never* get their communication down in their marriage and miss so many of the rewards that come from making the effort. There’s a reason finances are the number one reason for divorce in this country! You are helping so many people and you may never know how much. Wishing much success for you in launching this new course! You are going to learn so much more yourself than you ever thought possible!

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Dilanka Wettewa September 16, 2011 at 1:14 AM

Hello Adam:

Pretty good overview of must-do’s. I don’t mind your hands moving too much in the video :) either. I’d also like to add my own #8: Do it anyway – regardless of your family not being “on board”.

ciao.
Dilanka

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Lucille September 16, 2011 at 5:06 AM

I only agree with point 1 -”you can never change another person”!
The others do not resonate with me. In order to effect major change in my life I had to get divorced. The more changes I introduced (big and small) my partner rejected and it created an enormous amount of friction at home. The negative atmosphere started to affect the kids. Basically his ego got in the way of change!
I believe that high achievers (in any field) travel solo. No other person can live in your head and let’s face the facts….change is painful so why would you???

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Oli September 16, 2011 at 6:02 AM

Great post, Adam, and hugely timely for me.

I’ve been reading a lot of things on here in your archives about getting out of debt and on other sites about reducing ‘things’ in your life (minimalism and zen wisdom etc) and I want to take steps to implement some of the great ideas and advice everyone has so freely offered us all.

But I just don’t know how to raise it with my fiancée, who is far more materialistic than I am, and I fear she won’t understand my need to simplify, reduce and take radical steps to get spending and debt under control.

I’m going to schedule 20mins this weekend to take the first step of explaining how important it is to me that we start to reduce things in our lives and test the waters, then follow the rest of your guide about pushing ahead with things from here.

Thanks so much for giving me not only the advice you need, but also the inspiration and motivation to actually go and do it!

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Paula @ AffordAnything.org September 16, 2011 at 2:18 PM

I love the imagery of Milligan rolling around on the floor in front of a P90X video.

I have this same issue with my boyfriend — he’s great at learning from other people. But he doesn’t listen to lessons that come from me! When I try to give him advice, he says its “none of my business” or I should “stop interfering.”

So — like you mentioned — I send him links to news articles or blog posts. I recommend books or podcasts. I allow OTHER people’s words to express the advice. And then he gets a chance to think about it on his own terms, in his own time, without the pressure of his girlfriend there. And then he listens.

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TSP September 16, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Here’s a little feedback:
Adam, you are clearly a salesman. There’s no judgement in that, it’s just an observation.
I think you will always do really well in contexts where you can use your persuasive style, where you have something to sell, where you can get people on board with the thing(s) you are passionate about. This is in contrast to people who are wired more like teachers, where they enjoy teaching others something new and their passion comes through and the product and/or service sells itself. Having said all that, the video feels a little like a sales pitch and that is always a turn off for me. But that’s me, I’m crazy like that. Keep doing your thing and I hope you get to continue to do work that you love and that motivates you
That’s my 2 cents.

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Baker September 16, 2011 at 6:58 PM

Hey, thanks – that’s great feedback.

I have no problem with selling something I believe deeply in – and view that as a positive thing! In this case, however, this is an ACTUAL video in the course. Meaning there is nothing to sell at all! (So we don’t want it to be salesy at all!)

So we’ll definitely consider ways to make sure the course video are teaching what we want. :)

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Rachel September 16, 2011 at 7:24 PM

Confession: I didn’t watch the video. It would compete with something someone else here is watching.

But I did read your tips to rally your spouse and loved ones around your change.
Agree.
Agree.
Agree.
Agree.
Agree.
Agree.
Agree.
18 months ago my husband I committed to each other that we would get out of debt. $81,000 in consumer debt, student loans and investment loans.
It has been challenging, frustrating, demoralizing, uplifting and brought us closer in our marriage.
We weren’t always on the same page about how to pay off the debt. He dug his heels in about selling our car and cutting the cable. But I was patient. We made other smaller changes first. We cancelled the newspaper subscription and cut our personal spending. Slowly, the radical changes (selling the car and no tv) didn’t seem so radical.
It took a lot of work, a small windfall and we ended up cashing out a bit of retirement savings, but we have paid off $81,000 in 18 months.
Baker, I am so excited that you are helping others tackle debt. I hope all of your students find the success my husband and I have. The rewards are far beyond a zero credit card balance. We found even just starting, committing to budgeting and tracking spending, changed our lives for the better.

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Joan September 17, 2011 at 6:33 PM

So when I read this the first time around, my husband and I sat down and realized we were really on board with each other. Not just at a surface level, but deep down, we REALLY believe many of the same key things. And I’m super-lucky that that’s the case.

So when this came around, I thought, “HA – DONE!” And then I thought about it some more.

My mother lives with my husband, my daughter and me. I think my oldest sister summed it up best when she said, “If Mom’s got a nickel, she’ll spend a quarter.” Apparently she was like that long before I arrived on the scene, and I’m just thankful that I’m not quite as prone to the tendency. (Nor is my aforementioned sister, which makes her a GREAT resource.)

The thing is, I never truly admitted how much having Mom not on board with my husband’s and my goals was hurting us. I had sort of looked at it as, “Well, that’s her money, and she’s entitled.” I think if she lived apart from us, that would be true. But when we’re one big multigenerational family, I think it is a problem. We tell our daughter, “No, that’s not how we value using our money” about cheap toys, and then she goes out for the day with Mommom and comes home with three. We give 50% of our closets’ contents to Goodwill because we know we don’t need that stuff, and Mom comes home with five new shirts for me, “Because I know you like them.”

It’s not so much that it’s directly putting our finances in jeopardy. It’s that it’s hard to keep our momentum up and our family on course. And it’s hard to imagine how I can have a conversation with this amazing 75-years-young woman that doesn’t sound like I know “better,” which isn’t what I’m trying to say at all.

So I’m looking forward to ANY tips my fellow readers (and YvD course members) have on these non-partner situations.

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SB @ One Cent At A Time September 18, 2011 at 2:26 AM

Adam I like your writing style, but why do you always have to keep your posts this lengthy?

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Andy @ harprefinance.net September 18, 2011 at 11:16 AM

Nice perspective. I agree there is very little that compares to the support or lack of support that the one closest to you shares. I have been moved to incredible actions by the words of my wife and child.

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Tiffany September 19, 2011 at 11:35 AM

Great tips and for the most I would have to strongly agree. I guess the one that gets me is allowing things to happen at there own pace. I mean everyone should have the conversation about finances before the get married but most either don’t or are not truthful. The problem then becomes what if one person is really big on saving and the other isn’t. Sometimes time is really not an option, we see the finances is one of the biggest causes for divorce or trouble in marriages.

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mabu September 20, 2011 at 5:46 AM

Only the supperich untouch by the recession can efford not to change their spending and save more.., so enfforce lifestyle change are quit easy during austerity.

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Cherleen @ yesiamcheap September 23, 2011 at 10:07 PM

I agree with you can never change another person… but if you explain your goals,make them realize how important these goals are, and show them that you are decisive on making the change, I guess they will agree with you and start the change in themselves.

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Craig October 12, 2011 at 12:06 AM

There was one thing that worked for me when I was trying to get my wife on board to eliminate our debt and gain control of our finances… Compromise. I realized that she would never be willing to simplify and reduce our spending as much as I wanted, and she realized that I was unwilling to continue on the financially destructive path that we were on. We both understood and respected each other’s position and developed a plan that worked for both of us.

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