Psychologytoday.com reports that 7 out of 10 couples relay that a major source of strife in their relationships is the constant stress over MONEY. “What should we spend on? Who pays for what? What can we afford? Hey, I found a quarter…is it mine or yours??” Read the following tips to resolve any and all cash related quibbles with your special lady or fella’.
During the Dating Phase:
When’s the best time to talk about money? When you find yourself in a real financial pickle, right? Wrong. Dead wrong! You should set aside a little chunk of time to discuss money plans and goals, ideally before anything goes awry. Of course you don’t want to rush into it (this isn’t second date dinner discussion material), but it’s fine to address this at the (fairly) early stages of a serious relationship. Topics of interest should include: “what to do if one of us is fired/laid off/forcibly removed from the premises; should we have a joint checking account; are there any loan sharks waiting nearby to break your legs?” If your partner is consistently recalcitrant when you bring up matters of finance, this may be indicative of a general non communicative attitude/penchant for keeping secrets. If this is the case, money may be the least of your worries.
Much like opinions over The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and assorted Spike TV programming, views concerning money can differ greatly between the sexes. In general, women look at (the presence of) money as a rock; substantial capital equals a safe and secure life and a comfortable nest for lil’ ones. Males, on the other callused hand, typically view money in one of two ways: a) as something to play with and utilize in high risk maneuvers and b) as a status indicator, which increases one’s self confidence with each additional bank account “0.” The challenge is finding a happy middle ground, where you can see your partner’s point of view and come to an equitable compromise.
All that money…with no honey
Sometimes the topic of an argument can seemingly be money, but that’s just what is superficially being discussed. The real issue, or the “subtext,” could be a host of other common relationship concerns: worries over who has the power/control, insecurity over being truly loved, short and long term stability, uncertainty and the basic anxiety that can arise over self esteem and worth. Certain times you really need to take a microscope to the heart of the fracas to identify the root cause. If it’s not financial in nature, then it may be time to sit down and have a chat about what’s really stirring up all those volatile emotions.
After the Wedding Bells Chime:
The Urge to…Merge?
Once you work out most of the typical relationship kinks and go through with a marriage, the merging of finances often becomes the most immediate issue that needs attention. Keep individual accounts or join them together in a mighty fiscal union? Engagedmarriage.com reports that “One system is not inherently better than the other; it all depends on your overall approach to marriage. These days, many couples are opting for a middle ground approach, with both spouses keeping some money in individual accounts and also saving a certain amount in a joint account. Later on in your relationship, it may be easier to merge everything into a joint account, but this is not a necessity right off the bat.” Whichever method you choose, just make sure both parties are comfortable with the arrangement.
Walk a Mile in their Heels/Loafers
Even after you walk down the aisle, you still may need to walk a little in your partner’s shoes. That is to say, really try to see things from their financial perspective. One partner may want to delineate a strict, regimented budget, while the other may not. In regards to this issue, daveramsey.com offers the advice that “It is tough, but with patience and kindness, your spouse will eventually see the light (don’t beat them over the head with the need for a budget, and please don’t subject your spouse to a lecture.)” Striving for equanimity in this endeavor is key; clear heads will not only prevail but they can rest assured that their other half is satisfied as well.
Rules Were Meant to Be Followed
Setting up a spending budget for both parties involved is generally a good idea. That’s not to say: “you can never buy Nikes without asking me!”, but rather you should collectively agree upon certain things that should have a set amount allocated to them, and then a freestyle budget for whatever other personal expenses you like. Some couples can be more rigid in this respect than others; the important thing is to find which way of “making expenditures as a couple” works best for your particular situation.
Bring in the Pros
If you feel you and your mate don’t really have a handle on the whole financial planning thing, feel free to consult with a financial advisor (a lot of banks will offer this service for free even). Professionals are used to dealing with these issues and can help alleviate the strain of figuring out what to do. Denise Knowles, a relationship counsellor at Relate, told nhs.uk that “People who’ve never been in this situation before may feel embarrassed. Don’t be. The people who work as advisers are there to help. If you don’t want to talk about your problems in person, use telephone helplines and look at the information that’s available on the internet.”
At the end of the day, open communication is the best way to tackle basically every relationship problem under the sun, finance related or otherwise. Consider your partner’s feelings and mindset, and then try to make educated and empathetic decisions together. Then …give each other a kiss! You can’t buy love, and you already have that.