One of the most challenging aspects of any long-term relationship is dealing with the differences in backgrounds. The fact of the matter is each of us is a product of our experiences. Incidences to which we were subjected during our formative years often inform our adult responses.
As an example, couples frequently find themselves at odds when it comes to handling finances when one partner grew up in a family in which money was never a concern and the other comes from a frugal background.
This difference in perception often leads to money problems in relationships.
Communication Is Key
A significant stumbling block arises from the fact we’re taught it is bad form to discuss money and money-related issues. We’re told it’s taboo to converse about salaries at work. We’re considered rude if we bring up the subject of incomes with our friends. We’re also trained to believe having trouble meeting financial obligations is disgraceful.
All of this money shaming makes it difficult to overcome financial issues, because talking them through is so difficult. Meanwhile, that’s exactly what has to happen if a couple is to have any shot at aligning their long-term goals.
We must push past those erroneous beliefs and talk things out.
Keep The Conversation About Solutions Rather Than Blame
Whatever happens, your relationship is more important than money. Approaching your fiscal situation from this perspective makes talking things through much easier.
Yes, it can be scary to find yourself in need of a loan with bad credit because your spouse can’t seem to get it together. But it isn’t the end of the world, nor does it have to be the end of your relationship.
Keep discussions civil. Treat your partner as an equal. Talk in terms of “we” as opposed to “I.” Stick to the facts and keep things intellectual. Ask, “What can we do to fix this?” rather than “Why did you let this happen?”
Separate But Equal Doesn’t Work
A lot of couples think maintaining separate bank accounts is a good idea. However, doing so may actually make it easier for money problems to drive them apart. It sets the stage for “I,” “me” and “my” to become the tone for every other aspect of your relationship.
Starting a relationship off keeping things totally separate only serves to make it easier to drift apart in the long run. If you’re in for a penny, be in for a pound. Moreover, the more cash you have working for the two of you jointly — in, say, a high-interest savings account earmarked for your goals — the more it will earn because of compound interest.
Review The Finances Together
OK, so let’s say you place the responsibility of managing your finances in the hands of your spouse. Left to fend for the two of you on their own, they make what they feel are rational decisions. Then, if something goes wrong you come in spreading blame around like peanut butter.
This Is Patently Unfair — To Both Of You.
First of all, each partner should always have an awareness of where the two of you are financially so your day-to-day spending can be guided by that reality. Second, if you abdicate responsibility for managing the money, you have no right to a say in terms of how spending occurs. Asserting otherwise will justifiably lead your partner to resent your every utterance on the subject.
It’s important to work together, maintain open communication and look for solutions rather than blame to keep money problems out of your relationship.