One of the biggest roadblocks in many relationships usually involves finances. Fear, anxiety, anger, can all begin to plague two people in a partnership, especially when speaking about finances doesn’t come up until after you are married. Money can be a source of destruction, but it can also be a source of creativity in a marriage or committed relationship. When money gets tight, it can be looked at as an opportunity to challenge your relationship and see what you are made of both individually and as a couple. How can you make it work?
Finances are often a topic that are avoided by many, it’s even said that religion, money, and politics are the three topics that should never be brought up in conversation to avoid clashing heads and opinions. However, this rule doesn’t apply when in a serious relationship. At least not if you want to have a successful relationship.
Having a partner means you have a person to share in your financial journey, that includes both the highs and the lows. You have someone to grow with, learn from and with, and help when you two are faced with challenges.
There are many things you should think about when it comes to finances in your partnership, but here are just a few thought starters to get your relationship on track when it comes to money.
When two people are in a serious enough relationship, each of them should have a say in how their life will progress. This may cause for a disagreement on the details, but both of you should be happy with the overall plan. Whether this means that you want travel to be a priority in your lives, or you are aiming to buy a house, build a family, have your dream wedding, or do renovations on your house. Compromise may be a big factor in these conversations and goal setting, but each person in the relationship needs to be aware that they’re just as responsible as their partner when it comes to financial goals and wellbeing.
If there is one “breadwinner” in your relationship that brings in the larger sum of money, it’s important to not be resentful, but determine what conversations need to be had so both partners feel like they are fairly contributing towards their lives together.
On top of your shared financials, each person in a relationship should also have some private money. Money that can be used for expenses that aren’t joint. This way if one partner goes on a shopping spree, or the other decides to purchase that new fancy stereo system for their car, there is no resentment that their partner is using their shared finances to purchase something for themselves.
Back in the day, men used to be the ones who had all the power in a household. Women were expected to bow down to their husbands, take care of the kids, and make sure the house was cleaned, while also having dinner ready and on the table when their hubby got home from work. However, times have changed and modern women are career-driven, breadwinners, and we’re even seeing stay-at-home dad’s. Women have their own money to spend, and this means that finding a balance in power in your relationship and household is something that needs to be considered, regardless of how much each person in the relationship brings to the table.
Build a game plan
There are many couples who struggle when they hit roadblocks associated with income and spending. Very few people are prepared to deal with issues that arise with money in their relationships but a good place to start is by building a rough plan of how you’ll build your life together. This doesn’t mean a crazy binding agreement such as a pre-nuptial, but it’s a way for both of you to understand what you’re getting into before you take the plunge. I know, romantic right?
Although this doesn’t sound like a joyful conversation to have in your relationship, it’s one that will prevent you from having roadblocks down the road, or at least when you do hit roadblocks, you’ll know how to deal with them and be able to make rational decision.
Money and satisfaction
Economic hardships will obviously have negative effects on your relationship, and couples with financial stress tend to have lower levels of satisfaction within their relationships. When you are emotionally strained by your financial struggle, you’ll become more hostile, irritable and uncommunicative towards your significant other, which we all know isn’t healthy for your relationship. Often times couples will point fingers at one another in a financial downfall, and we’re not just talking about low income couples, it’s anyone who doesn’t have clear communication with their spouse, or isn’t willing to compromise. When you’re a couple challenged by your financials, communication and compromise is key to overcoming and thriving through a financial crisis together.
When a couple has the same attitude towards money, their relationship is naturally going to thrive. For example, if you’re a penny-pincher and you date/marry a big spender, you may be signing yourself up for conflict. Having a conversation about spending habits, and financial goals with your partner is important, especially when you aren’t both the same kind of spender.
The biggest money mistakes you can make
When you put together couples and start talking about finances, you’re bound to have a few disagreements. In fact, money is the number one issue married couples fight about. When it comes to marital problems, money is the second leading cause of divorce, next to cheating. So what are some of the biggest issues couples face when it comes to money so you can try to avoid them in your next relationship? Let’s take a look…
Separate bank accounts
Some couples think that the best way to avoid issues when it comes to finances is to just keep their money separate. Each of you have your own bank account for your paycheck to go into, and then you split the cost of your bills as they come. Surprisingly, this lays the groundwork for financial problems as time goes on. Couples in great marriages talk about their money, and it’s important to remember that marriage is a partnership. Both people need to be involved in finances and keeping everything separate and splitting bills will only lead to more money and relationship problems down the road.
Maybe you’re perfectly content with shopping at thrift stores, but your partner loves brand-name, designer clothes. If you have an income that doesn’t support those expense habits, you’re going to have a problem. Marriage is about compromise. If you are attached to brand-name, expensive things, consider how you can cut costs and snag deals. Your lifestyle needs to line up with what your actual income is, and also needs to be in line with your partners.
Personality differences come between you
Everyone’s personality is different and opposites often tend to attract. Chances are that your personality isn’t going to be the exact same as your partners, especially when it comes to numbers. One of you may love budgeting and working with numbers, while one of you might hate it. This, for obvious reasons, can cause reasons to headbut. Whenever one of you neglects to hear the other’s input, or just simply “doesn’t care”, you’re going to set yourself up for an argument. So how do you combat this? For the financial nerd in the relationship, don’t keep it all to yourself. Stop acting like you know everything and instead, take the time to teach and inform your significant other so you’re both in the loop of what’s going on in your bank accounts. Remember, you’re both on the same teams.
Salary differences divide you
It’s very unlikely that both you and your love are going to make the same income. One of you is going to “come out on top”, and it often doesn’t matter if the different in salary is $1000 or $50K, this can still become an area of tension. Instead of seeing everything you bring in as “your” money, you need to change your mindset to “our”. Don’t hold your salary over your partner’s head as it won’t do anyone any good.
Did you know that 1 in 3 couples that admit to arguing about finances have hidden purchases from their spouses? Being unfaithful with your spouse doesn’t always need to mean you’ve had an affair. Sometimes you can be unfaithful to a shared financial vision by opening a side bank account, or stashing away side money your partner doesn’t know about. Being open and honest about your accounts and finances is important for a healthy relationship. Work towards building financial trust with one another in order to build a successful, and healthy relationship.
Couples don’t just fight about spending habits, but also tend to disagree when it comes to saving habits. For example: Some people may be so invested in saving that they are willing to pass up experiences like traveling, eating out, celebrating milestones, etc. to save money. Others may be okay with splurging. It’s important to create common goals between you and your partner and determine how much you’ll save each month towards those goals. It’s usually recommended you have between 3-6 months worth of expenses tucked away as an emergency fund. Keep that in mind when goal setting.
On top of those long-term saving goals, you’ll want to set some short-term goals too. Maybe it’s buying a new car, or saving for your dream vacation, everyone’s goals and priorities will be different. Determine what works best for yourself and your spouse.
Till debt do us part
How much debt are you each bringing into your relationship? And what are your attitudes towards tackling it? It’s important to lay this on the table and work together to determine a pay off plan that works for the both of you. As a couple, the other person in the relationship doesn’t automatically assume responsibility of any debt you bring into the partnership. At the end of the day, that debt is your sole responsibility, however, that doesn’t mean you two can’t work together to figure out a repayment plan. Come up with a strategy together, and most importantly, don’t resent the other person if they bring more debt into the relationship than you. You’re a team now!
The thought of talking about money and finances with someone you love can seem incredibly uncomfortable. In fact, according to Wells Fargo, 44% of people ranker personal finances as the most difficult topic to talk about. However, if you want a long, happy and healthy relationship with someone, one of the first things you’ve got to get over is the fear of the money conversation.
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