Talking to a Spouse Who Is Reluctant to Preplan

Sometimes one spouse is eager to preplan his/her funeral and one spouse is not interested. This can cause strife in a marriage and can also mean that no proactive plans will be put into place. The inactivity can further cause strife: if a person cannot talk about funeral plans when everyone is healthy, how is he/she going to handle it if someone dies? It may be doubly hard. Here is one way an eager-to-preplan spouse has been successful talking to his/her reluctant spouse.

  1. Death is a fact of life. Everyone dies and none of us knows when we will die. It is not an easy topic to discuss.
  2. Each of you brings different skill sets to your marriage. Thank your spouse for the items he/she has handled that you haven't had the skills, patience, initiative or desire to do. Acknowledge that preplanning is something you can do for your spouse.
  3. Explain why preplanning is important. Explain why it is so important to you.
  4. Provide participation options. While informing him/her that you will be going ahead with the next steps because it is so important to you, give him or her the option to participate not at all, a little or more.
  5. Be understanding.

Example
We are blessed that we are both healthy; but we both know we are going to die someday. I understand that this is tough for you to talk about, as it is for many people.

There are some things that you have taken care of in our marriage that were too difficult for me to handle. Finances were never my thing. You took on our taxes every year without complaint. And every year you patiently explained them until I got the big picture. And I was no good at handling blood and injuries with our kids. You were wonderful at bandaging the scrapes and calmly driving Tommy or Nancy or Jill to the emergency room. You took care of all of that and I thank you.

Preplanning our funerals is something that I can do for us. If you find it hard to talk about now, I worry that it is going to be unbearably hard for you to talk about it if something unexpected happens to me. And if something unexpected happens to you, I know I don't want to be making those financial decisions on the worst day of my life.

I can do this for us. Let me take care of this. If you want to be a part of this, or a portion of this, that would be great. I'll also understand if you can't be part of it. But let's not leave this for the worst possible time.

I received a lot of good info last week and I have an appointment for the 7th to get more questions answered. I'd love it if you would join me. If not, that's OK too.

Talking to a Spouse Who Is Reluctant to Preplan