Have you ever clashed with your spouse or partner over money? If you answered yes, you’re in good company. Research shows that financial concerns are a major source of conflict for couples. According to one survey on stress, nearly one-third of adults with partners reported that they regularly fight about money.
Research also shows that couples’ arguments about money tend to be more intense, more complicated and more likely to remain unresolved than other conflicts.
However, money doesn’t have to be a sore spot in your relationship. With practice, you and your partner can learn to discuss finances in a healthier, more rewarding way.
DIFFERENCES IN THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT MONEY
The old idea that opposites attract may be valid, especially when it comes to money. We are often drawn to partners whose approaches to life complement our own. Still, differing beliefs about money can be a flashpoint for couples.
All of us develop opinions about money long before we bring our finances together with a romantic partner. Studies show that we inherit attitudes and values about money from our parents and family members. We may not even be fully aware of our beliefs about spending and saving.
At the beginning of a relationship, many couples discuss their views on marriage, children, and careers. Yet they rarely sit down to discuss their financial views and goals.
The good news is that it’s never too late to have that conversation. Whether you’ve been in a relationship 10 weeks or 10 years, talking about your money history is a great way to figure out how to handle your finances together. Here are some questions to get you started.
- What did your parents teach you about money?
- What are your financial goals?
- What are your fears about money?
Having a clear, detailed view of your partner’s beliefs can set the stage for discussions about your joint finances.
COMING TOGETHER AS A TEAM
When it comes to financial responsibilities, couples don’t always work smoothly together. In the stress survey mentioned earlier, only 33 percent of respondents said both partners share an equal role in making money decisions. Only 23 percent said that the management of household finances is shared equally.
It’s normal for couples to divide the work of living together, and financial chores are often part of this. One partner might handle daily household spending while the other focuses on long-term savings and investments. But those roles can work against each other if there isn’t consistent communication between both partners.
To avoid conflicting money roles, some couples trade the jobs back and forth. One month, you might manage household expenses and your partner might focus on savings and investment. The next month, you can swap roles.
Another good option is to share roles equally. Set up a regular time each month to pay the bills, review expenses and talk about savings. Try to schedule something fun for after the meeting. If you know you’ll be going out to dinner or the movies later, your money date will feel less like a chore.
AVOID USING THE “B” WORD
As you and your partner talk about household finances, stay away from the word “budget”. Some people have negative associations with this word, which may set up a feeling of deprivation. Instead, aim to have a spending plan. Agreeing on how to save and invest your money will make for a much more satisfying conversation.
If your discussions become tense, take time out and come back later. Remember, you and your spouse may not always see eye to eye. But with good communication and a clear understanding of each other’s values, you can find common ground.
YOU CAN OVERCOME MONEY DISPUTES
It’s not uncommon for couples to have the same argument again and again, especially when it comes to money. As an expert therapist who has worked with hundreds of married and committed couples in the Las Vegas area, I am ready to help you gain perspective. Together, we can explore the deeper issues surrounding your beliefs about money and create a foundation for greater understanding and teamwork to help you achieve your financial goals.
To schedule a conversation in my offices, get in touch with me today.