One of the most important money choices you make has nothing to do with picking stocks, or opening accounts … it’s about who you choose to spend the rest of your life with and how much you share (or don’t share) their views on money and living a Rich Life. –– Ramit Sethi
Money is one of the most divisive topics that any couple can deal with. One partner might look at finances with a different kind of philosophy that doesn’t match their partner’s. Sometimes there is a wealth disparity and the more well-off partner might demand a bit more dedication towards saving money. One partner might prefer spending money over saving money, as they are more impulsive. There are countless fights and problems that can arise from finances, which is why knowing how to deal with them is the key to saving your relationship.
Instead of looking at love as a crutch which exacerbates negative emotions when financial problems arise, look at it as a motivator that will help you resolve problems in a way that will preserve your relationship.
You can rest assured that you aren’t the only couple that has run into issues when it comes to finances. People have gone through these problems countless times and there are some steps that you can take to make it easier on your relationship. Here are some of the best tried-and-tested examples.
Talk about the elephant in the room
The best way to get problems out of the way is to have a thorough sit down with your partner. Communication is the key to resolving any and all conflicts in a relationship, and this certainly includes financial hardships and dilemmas. If there’s something about your financials that is causing you anxiety, putting it all out on the table and talking about it is the first step towards solving it. Staying silent won’t change the facts.
Pour a glass of wine and discuss the state of your combined finances and any spending habits that might seem out of place.
Someone that likes to compulsively shop after a paycheck without dealing with bills first might not see it as a problem. Pointing out your feelings and thoughts regarding the behavior will help them understand that it’s something that might need to be changed. The other side of the spectrum is another possible cause of stress. Being excessively frugal won’t sit well with someone that wants to spend money to enjoy their life.
Even more complex financial issues should be discussed. If there are a lot of student debt loans that are dragging you down, solving the issue might not be easy, but at least talking about it would relieve tension. Couples often shy away from hard topics like expensive medical conditions, but this is something that affects both of you, which is why it has to be discussed.
Determine your goals
There’s no use discussing your financials if you don’t see yourselves as having a future together. Your current state can change at any time if you choose, but thinking about the future requires some stability and planning ahead. You have to figure out what your endgame is. Where do you see yourselves in five years as a couple?
If the answer includes still being together, that means your financial situation has to be stable in order to reach any kind of progress. If you plan on eventually buying a home, that means that you need to start saving up. Down payments and mortgages aren’t something you want to commit to if your finances are lacking.
Moving in together probably means that most of your finances will be shared. If you have to pay the same bills, share meals, and deal with the same repairs, that means that there will be a lot less than you can deal with on an individual level. Once you’re sharing your finances, problems need to be solved for the sake of both of you. If the way you handle your job will influence your finances, you have to take your partner’s feelings and future into account.
Discussing financial assets is considered somewhat taboo and awkward for some people. Nobody wants to be overbearing when it comes to something as controversial as to how to handle money. A lot of people simply skim over the problems until they are too big to ignore. This can be detrimental to your relationship in the long run. Attitudes need to be changed for the sake of your finances and relationship.
Marriage and other long-term goals bring responsibilities with them, which means that communicating and making compromises becomes essential. When dealing with financial stress and issues, you have to be pragmatic. Solving the issue becomes more important than pointing fingers. You have to let go of any thought processes that could cloud your judgment.
Don’t look at your finances as separate entities. It’s time to start thinking about them as a collective fund that helps both of you achieve your daily goals. This way, you can look at the financial decisions you and your partner make as a means to a mutually beneficial end. If handled improperly, this might backfire. Make sure that you value both of your inputs and earnings equally, even if the numbers aren’t exactly the same. Look at it from the perspective of effort and merit. Just because a different skill set leads to different paychecks doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t value your partner’s contributions. Feeling undervalued is a one-way ticket to resentment and problems.
The most important part of dealing with your finances is to work as a team. Since you’re sharing the funds, you also have to share all of the responsibilities that go along with handling them. When issues arise, you should strive to always be on the same team. Working together is a surefire way to make sure that you can get rid of the things causing you financial stress.
If it’s something that can’t be solved by changing behavior, then you should brainstorm other viable solutions. Perhaps your bills are piling up or the mortgage payments are too much for this particular month.
Stress can pile up and you might start taking it out on each other. The best way to prevent this is to team up and look for solutions before emotions get the best of you. Even with a sudden influx of bills, you can always look for some low rate personal loans to give you some more breathing space. On the other hand, if each of you takes a small online job on the side, you can rest assured that you’re both contributing to solving the problem.
Be understanding of mistakes
Nobody is perfect. People have flaws and some of these flaws can manifest themselves in the form of bad financial habits and unnecessary spending. Going into a relationship, you should be aware that the person you want to spend time with is going to have some characteristics and flaws that might not sit well with you. Understanding them and being able to calmly and rationally reach a solution is crucial. If someone pointed out one of your own flaws, wouldn’t you prefer it if they were reasonable when approaching the issue? Apply this same line of thinking when you decide to move in together or get married. How you choose to deal with these flaws is up to you, but it’s important that you have some understanding when they come up.
Not everyone was raised with perfect financial role models. Parents and guardians aren’t perfect people. Some people might not have learned how to deal with money and they ended up with habits that are detrimental to their finances. When you decide to move with them, these habits will also affect you. Instead of reacting emotionally, try to find an effective solution that will benefit your financial situation without impacting your relationship in a negative way. Cooperating with your partner while understanding where they’re coming from is the best way to handle the situation.
Financial troubles are the hill many relationships die on. It’s a stressful topic that brings out the worst in people. It’s difficult enough trying to make a relationship last without financial troubles, but they still present an inevitable hurdle that couples need to get over.
Ignoring the topic would be an easy solution, but it would only temporarily halt problems. The money eventually catches up and you don’t want all that pent up negative energy to hit you all at once, while the finances are also suffering. With a little bit of open communication and some creative problem solving, you can make sure that financial problems don’t get in the way of having a loving and happy relationship. Apply some of these ideas to your own situation and you can be absolutely certain that it will take out much of the stress that both of you are feeling.