If you ask people what creates stress in their lives, money is often at the top of the list. Stress in America: Paying With Our Health found money was a somewhat or a very significant source of stress in the lives of 64 percent of Americans, primarily parents, younger generations, women, and lower-income households.

In many cases financial stress is made worse because of a lack of communication. NerdWallet.com determined lack of communication, in tandem with a failure to save and too-conservative investment choices, has contributed to many couples’ lack of retirement readiness.

We tend to skim the surface when talking about retirement and never dig deeply enough into the topic to develop an actual plan that will help make retirement a reality. For instance, do you know how much your spouse/partner is setting aside for retirement? Does he or she know how much you’re saving? NerdWallet.com found:

  • 21 percent of Americans have no idea how much their spouse/partner has saved for retirement.
  • 43 percent of Americans don’t consult with their spouse/partner before making trading decisions.
  • 52 percent of Americans have not determined how much they need to save to retire comfortably.

America may be the home of the brave but we’re not very courageous when it comes to talking about finances. People talk about money all the time. However, when the conversation turns to specifics, they often get uncomfortable.

Even if conversations about money cause discomfort, it’s important for couples to have them. The goals of the conversation (and it may take several conversations to reach these goals) are to develop a vision for retirement and a plan for achieving it. You’ll need to talk about how much you have saved, how much you need to save, how to invest those savings, and the sources of income you’ll have during retirement (Social Security, pensions, etc.).

If discussing money is an issue, then engaging a neutral third party to lead the discussion may help. A good candidate is a financial advisor, who can help you develop a retirement plan. Remember, having a plan is not enough. You must implement the plan to reach your goals!