One of the most common sources of conflict in relationships is money. If you are lucky enough to have found someone who you are compatible with, the last thing you want to do is jeopardize the life you are trying to build together because conversations around money are getting in the way. Discussions about finances between partners often become emotionally charged, especially when it involves different values around money. Fortunately, whether it’s about spending habits, saving for a desired goal, investing or paying off debt, having healthy discussions about finances is a skill that couples can learn to develop together.
Understanding what drives your partner’s emotions about money is key to turning these discussions into honest and productive conversations. It can be helpful to discuss together what your experiences were like with money growing up. In some households, speaking about money can be considered taboo while in others they are open discussions. These early experiences shape the way we view money and inform our decisions as adults on how we choose to spend, or not spend. Understanding that your partner grew up with a financially irresponsible parent due to a gambling problem can go far when trying to understand why your surprise purchase of an expensive custom suit quickly became a serious issue. On the flip side, your partner’s understanding that your purchase of a custom suit was because you felt you could finally afford it and deserve it seems less frivolous when it’s known that you grew up with years of being bullied as a child for your second-hand clothing.
The benefit to understanding your partner’s emotional connection to money is that it can open the door for truly honest conversations. If you both come from a place of understanding you create a safe space to share information, even if it means sharing things you may not be proud of. Hiding debt or overspending is a deception that can have serious adverse effects on a relationship. Like lying, it can wear away at the trust that exists between you and could be your downfall. It’s imperative to have an honest conversation about any debt or unhealthy spending habits. If you can agree to a plan to pay off the debt or plan a budget that includes a set amount of savings these issues can easily be figured out before they become your undoing.
Starting and regularly having these money discussions can be difficult but money is a part of life – and maintaining openness around it with your partner is key to prevent it from becoming an issue. Like most aspects of a relationship, communication is everything. Sharing priorities and agreeing on common goals together will allow you to more easily create a path forward. Focus on each other’s strengths, always keep each other in the loop and your money conversations can become a part of your relationship that serve to reinforce your shared visions and dreams and further strengthen your partnership.
For the past 20 years Lighthouse Financial Advisors has been committed to reducing stress and keeping couples happy by coaching them through financial matters.