It is sad, but also true that one of the leading causes of divorce for American couples is money related. People feel very emotional about personal finance and money management, so it is understandable that tensions run high when money problems develop. However, many financial matters can be successfully addressed with the right strategy, and effort to do it could improve your relationship in profound ways.
If not managed, financial issues can spoil a once happy relationship. That stands for friendships as well. In any case, losing a friend over money might not be so distressing as losing a spouse.
When you feel your partner is spending money irresponsibility or has a different vision of the future, the impact on your relationship can be devastating. If you are dealing with burdensome amounts of debt, the likelihood of growing apart is even higher.
Understanding some common ways how money can ruin a relationship might motivate you to proactively improve the situation and prevent future problems. There are no financial issues that cannot be resolved if both partners are willing to work as a team.
1. You Don’t Talk About It
Finances can be a difficult topic for couples to discuss when they have become accustomed to staying mute. Although millennials address this more freely, it is still an often taboo with friends and other family members. When we are open about finances, some bad habits that need to be addressed may come to light, and it isn’t always easy to confront our emotions that simultaneously arise.
All communication should be open and non-confrontational, so no one feels being picked on or attacked. We have all received a different level of money education over the years, and some of us have developed financial habits that can be difficult to suddenly overcome.
Don’t avoid talking about finances even if your spouse has trouble sticking to a budget. It may be frustrating and challenging, but it can be overcome. Simplify the process by making a basic financial plan where both of you review the budget and discuss concerns in a non-judgmental way. Review your challenges and work together to come up with a solution.
Make a financial date once a month and start transforming money talk into a pleasant habit.
2. Different Money Values
“Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Oscar Wilde
If you believe that your spouse spends wastefully, mistrust and stress can mount. A Jeffrey Dew’s study indicates that this belief could increase your chance of a divorce by up to 45 percent. Playing financial catch up when the bills are due will likely dim down the spark between you.
You both may have financial beliefs and money values that are set in stone. While it’s not realistic to change each other’s solid beliefs, it is possible for you both to change each other’s perspective. What money means to you should be openly discussed. Your values may be conflicting, but that does not necessarily mean that your partner’s values are wrong.
When you both take an open approach to improved understanding and respect, you can happily adjust your financial habits in a way that works well for your relationship. Avoid approaching this subject with the mentality of trying to change your spouse. You both should try to find a middle ground for your financial belief system. Differences and budget battles can be prevailed with smart financial planning. Essentially, you need to blend your personal beliefs into a couple belief that you can both agree on.
3. Secrets Are Kept
If you have hidden something money related from your spouse in the past, you are not alone. We have all done it, but cleaning the slate is way more fruitful. More than one-third of Americans have stated that they have hidden their credit card bill on at least one occasion so that their spouse would not find it.
Not being open about income or expenses can be a sign of deeper financial issues like gambling, uncontrollable spending and more. If you identify any serious issues, support each other as you work through them and make honesty easy, not frightening. Try to induce empathetic conversations and show your partner that you are open to help and to resolve any problem.
This confidentiality is so common that is has a term, financial infidelity, and it breeds enormous distrust. Secrets and denial only create gaps and alienate partners. Without trust, the relationship may quickly meet its end. For a relationship to survive and for both partners to be happy, there must be honesty in all areas. Your spouse should trust you without exception, and you should be able to trust her to this same degree.
If you have been hiding something from your spouse or you suspect that your spouse hides something from you, try to discuss issues and concerns in an honest and non-judgmental way. What has occurred cannot be changed. If you want to achieve mutual goals, you both need a fresh start that includes honesty to get rowing in the same direction.
4. Opposed Financial Personas
Some couples are finely attuned in most matters, and others are true opposites. If you fell in love with your opposite, there is a good chance that your money management habits are mismatched. For example, one of you may be a big spender, and the other one may get stressed out when money is not saved regularly. Differing personas in money management can create tremendous strife in a relationship, but this is not a definitive irreconcilable imbalance that must end in separation.
You can make compromises and establish goals. If you decide to save money as a couple, the spender may feel more comfortable managing short-term plans and paying expenses, while the marital saver might manage the joint emergency savings account and making sure it is well-funded. Additionally, the saver personality will work better in long-term strategies because it has already established the saving discipline.
5. You Don’t Have A Plan
When a couple simply goes through the motions of spending, earning and saving as they have become habitually accustomed to, it may feel as though you are treading water. You may feel frustrated that your major financial goals are not being achieved but keeping spending under control is impossible without a financial plan and allocated budgets.
Evaluating your current situation and defining financial goals for the future will get both partners on the same page and give you a mutual purpose. You both may share at least some financial goals that you are not even aware of or have a plan for achieving them. This could include saving for a house, saving for retirement or paying off debt balances first.
A financially happy couple has developed specific goals for the future. These are goals that both have agreed to, and they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based). Sit down and establish mutual short-term and long-term goals. This should include everything from renovating the house, investing to taking a vacation and more. Assign an estimated dollar amount to each goal and prioritize them in terms of importance. Then create a timeline that you will follow. To ensure your goals are realistic, estimate how much money you need to allocate on a monthly base to achieve them.
Give yourself room for revision and to adjust your financial plan in case you lack adequate funding. You might need to push back a house renovation or scale it back, pay off debt a year later or make other compromises.
Each person in a relationship may have a different role in money management. The savvy one will probably be more comfortable in managing finance altogether, but both partners should have an equal say in creating the goals. Progress toward should also be reviewed periodically so that both sides remain on the same page.
6. You’re Flying Solo
Couple that budgets together stays together. You are not on a solo trip here and separating yourself is not a recipe for successful relationship. Putting all your mutual income and expenses on paper often serves as a wake-up call and makes you adjust your habits.
In some relationships, one person handles all financial matters, budgeting, investing and other. You may be the only breadwinner, but you are on this journey together. In most cases it is wise to create a shared budget together. If you handle the money, bring your lady into the picture regularly and let her know how things are going.
There are times when couples should have separate budgets and accounts. One instance when this may be beneficial is when one spouse has an overspending habit that is negatively impacting the family’s finances overall. For example, if one partner has addiction problems, it is better not to put all eggs in one basket. Before joining accounts, working on the key problem is primary to resolve.
To Sum It Up
Taking a look at the financial aspect of our relationship, we may see that there are specific issues that need to be addressed. An open discussion with our loved one may reveal that both are equally frustrated by the same things.
The ability to timely improve our financial communication and address problems together, will not only result in a stronger and sweeter relationship but wealthier future as well.
By doing so, our future might include a happy wife, financial wellness, and a stress-free life overall. What more could we ask for?