How Couples Can Avoid Fights About Money
Everyone knows arguing about finances is the most awkward of the relationship buzzkills. Right up there with telling your partner that you don’t like their mom. In fact, these money-centric fights tend to be so uncomfortable that couples opt instead to bottle up these emotions until one day, when they explode in a mess of tears and harsh words laced with bitter disappointment. Fighting about money is one of the biggest sources of marital strife so let’s stop letting the negativity control us once and for all. Here are a few tips for how to navigate finances as a couple as early as possible and avoid these blow-ups.
Discuss Goals Early
I’ll just say it now: the take-away theme of this post is communication. That’s because it really is the simplest way to avoid fighting about finances. In a relationship, it’s important to take note of if your partner is more of a spender or a saver. Do their spending habits mirror yours or are they completely opposite? Even if you’re more frugal and your partner loves to spend, a relationship can work. The key to success is that you have a discussion about your goals as a couple and develop your financial plan even before getting married. What kind of lifestyle do you want to lead down the road? You don’t necessarily need to get into the nitty gritty about how much will be budgeted each month yet, but at least take note of how much your partner spends now—while you’re just a couple instead of a married amoeba. If you’re more of an organized pair, writing out your monthly budget before you get married is a great way to start your marriage on the same page. Also, don’t pretend you didn’t know the way they liked to spend (or scrimp) before you got married. These things are painfully obvious. You’ll see it in the restaurants chosen for dinner, the Friday night activities, or the shopping trips with friends. Bottom line: discuss your financial goals early and often and hope they match. If they don’t, have a strategy to deal with the disparities.
Make Sure You’re Both Involved in the Process
The very sad truth is that with a lot of couples, one person takes the wheel with finances and leaves the other person out completely. This is a recipe for disaster for a few reasons. First, from a completely emotional standpoint, the lack of transparency can make one partner feel undervalued in the relationship. And even if the couple prefers for one person to handle finances, what will happen if that person dies suddenly? The remaining partner will feel utterly lost and overwhelmed. Yes, it might take a little longer to educate your partner on the finances but it’s essential that you’re equally involved with all financial decisions. That way, you will avoid any unhappy surprises along the way. You’ll also be closer as a couple if both partners feel empowered and knowledgeable about your financial situation.
Above all else, bring up your concerns in a calm, respectful manner. Money-related issues are sensitive ones that come from a very emotional place. Everything you understand about money reflects what you saw and experienced growing up. Maybe your partner grew up wealthy and you grew up working class. Of course your partner’s outlook on spending and saving will be different. Don’t be afraid of these differences. Discuss them and be extremely open about them. If you’re going to be in a successful relationship and avoid these nasty arguments about money, you’ll need to figure out a way to compromise and successfully educate your partner on why one tactic of spending makes the most sense for your situation.
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