If asked, most couples would say it's important to protect the financial future of their families in the event of a spouse's unexpected death.
Yet 74 percent of couples rarely or never discuss the topic of life insurance as part of their financial planning strategy, according to a 2010 State Farm Life Insurance Study. A 2011 study from finance research firm LIMRA revealed that 41 percent of U.S. adults don't even have life insurance.
That doesn't mean it's not on their minds. Sixty-two percent of respondents said uncertainty in the economy makes having life insurance even more important than it had previously been.
Bringing up the subject can be difficult. It may be that discussing the unexpected death of a spouse is awkward. Or that one spouse already feels the pressure of being the primary wage earner. Or that a spouse who has recently lost a job will react negatively to the topic.
But whatever the obstacles, talking about life insurance is critical to both partners - even if one earns substantially more than the other, or one doesn't earn an income. To start the discussion, try these tips:
Talk before you're in a financial crisis. Pick a time when you're not stressed, and treat the topic as you would any other aspect of your financial planning.
Make a plan that incorporates life insurance as a primary component of your overall financial strategy. Having a plan in place can be reassuring if your circumstances change.
Set a monthly budget and learn what options you can afford. Schedule follow-up evaluations and adjust your coverage as your needs, family situation and income change.
Consult an insurance expert who can provide an outside perspective and make the discussion less stressful.
Focus your discussion on the love you have for your family and your desire to protect it from financial burdens, rather than on the possible death of a spouse.