Wouldn’t it be wonderful if money really did grow on trees? Money is a common source of friction in relationships, particularly in today’s difficult financial times. When left untreated, money problems may damage the trust and understanding necessary to maintain a healthy relationship. In some cases, financial disagreements may even lead to separation or divorce. Some examples of money matters that can cause a couple to fight:
- When there is a financial crisis and you are not sure which bills are priorities over the other bills.
- Some couples argue over how money should be spent. Do you want to save for a house? Are you in a relationship with someone who is content with renting forever?
- One of the individuals in the relationship continues to spend money without thinking about it and the other person wants to save for a rainy day. Are you a spender or a saver? If you’re in a relationship with a person whose money style is your opposite, you will continue to have problems in the future.
- One of the individuals in the relationship is not truthful about their finances. Does one partner make more money? Substantially more? Oftentimes, when one partner earns substantially more money, that partner feels entitled to control the money. And the other partner often feels undeserving of control, or less worthy due to lower income.
My advice to solve your relationship problems is this:
Communication: First, you must both agree to talk over all money issues in a positive way. Be willing to listen and keep an open mind. There’s no place for judgment, name-calling, and anger. At times, our emotions about other issues manifest around money. Our financial behaviors are so deeply ingrained, they can be hard to explain, much less change, but you have to try if you want your relationship to work.
Plan: How are you going to manage your finances and your relationship going forward? Create a plan so that you both agree how often you will handle money in the future. Make a plan and then follow through.
Action: If necessary, set up separate bank accounts so that you each can handle money your own way. Many couples set up a joint account to which each contributes, along with accounts that each person funds and controls separately. Some couples dispense with the joint account and make arrangements to split expenses. If one of you is a saver and the other a spender, find the mid-point where you’re both happy. Do whatever works for you. If you are still struggling, then get some help from a financial planner.
Prior to marriage, many of us had to answer only to ourselves. A major shift occurs as we began our married life—we are now accountable to each other. You can decide to defuse the drama and make money just another thing you share with your partner. Money can secure happiness, but it can’t create it.
How do you work through financial problems with your significant other? Share your comments below!