Nobody is perfect, and it’s a rare person who hasn’t had a single financial misstep. Nonetheless, it’s frustrating for many to discuss finances. It’s actually one of the most commonly-cited top reasons that people get divorced or break up. The actual roots of the complication probably lie in something deeper--control, security, self-esteem, etc.--but it usually manifests itself through money discussions.
Regardless of where the roots of a blow up over finances might come from, the best way to avoid a fight coming out of a discussion about finances is to keep the communications open and honest. Money Under Thirty offers these five tips to have better conversation about money with your partner:
1. Agree to Disagree
Everyone inherently views certain things in different ways, and money is one of those things. The key is understanding those different views and learning how to work together. For example, your partner might see an opportunity to make a large purchase with zero interest as a can’t miss opportunity. You might prefer to wait and save the money to buy it outright versus spreading the loan out and potentially paying a high interest rate if you can’t make the payments. Talk with your partner about the pros and cons and get on the same page. You’re both *right* in a sense, you just need to go with the option that makes sense for each individual situation.
2. Don’t Make It A Big Deal
You don’t need to have a big money talk every day, but having a small touch base regularly can help avoid surprises and issues down the road. If you wait until something is wrong (or worse, something you’ve hid becomes public)then it leads to other feelings - or worse, more fights. Make money discussions part of your regular discussions and it loses some of its mystery.
3. Utilize Your Strengths
Focus on the positives each of you bring to the table when it comes to finances. If one of you is a natural bookkeeper, then allow them to run the numbers and take the lead on the bills. If the other one is a little more practical and less impulsive about purchases, they can hold onto the debit card and steer the long term planning.
4. Talk About Value
Understand the things your partner values and vice versa. For example, if you love live music then dropping a large sum on Beyoncé tickets doesn’t seem like an unnecessary or useless expense. By that same token, though, if your partner drops the same sum on a wardrobe update--something on which they place high value--you need to understand that. Make sure you understand what each of you values rather than strictly going by the numbers.
How serious is financial infidelity? For some couples, it’s equivalent to cheating. The damage it can cause is real and can cause distrust and stress in relationships. The answer to avoiding this is easy: tell the truth. Bring these values to your conversations about money and any financial woes in your relationship is sure to get better. Be honest and understanding, and most importantly, do so without judgement. Money is only a touchy subject if you let it be.