Financial issues can place enormous pressure on a relationship. We tend to think that they only play a role when there’s no money to spend. We see relationships go into freefall when one partner loses their job and the financial future is in jeopardy.
However, it’s not only a lack of money that can put the strain on a relationship. Your money management styles can cause conflict. The way you react to having additional money can also result in a lengthy argument. Many of our fiscal habits come from our own upbringing.
We either choose to emulate our parents’ habits, or we choose to be the complete opposite of what they were. Given that our partners come from a different set of circumstances, they also bring fiscal habits into a relationship. In many instances, these approaches to the subject of money are very different. And these differences can lead to major conflicts.
Here are some ways to avoid turning money into the reason for your break-up:
- Know yourself
You need to understand your money spending and saving habits before you can even begin to criticize your partner’s. Are you frugal or extravagant? Do you hunt for bargains or buy something regardless of the price? Do you make considered or impulsive buying decisions? Do you spend extra money or put it away for a rainy day? Draw up a list of your own financial habits.
- Get to understand your partner
Ask your partner the same questions you’ve asked yourself. You can draw up a list of your financial management characteristics and compare them to your partner’s.
Discuss your own upbringing and where your habits come from with your partner. Allow him/her to explain where his/her habits come from. It’s inevitable you’re going to have areas where you differ and don’t feel the same way.
- Learn to give and take
Once you’ve managed to establish each other’s financial habits, you need to compromise so that you’re on the same page. If you don’t do this, money will remain a bone of contention between you.
One of you may need to reign their spending in. The other may need to learn to relax and use your money to live a little. It’s about finding the middle ground. Negotiate the issue, and then you can make a final informed decision.
- Establish the rules of engagement
Set up ground rules for discussions that center around financial issues. This will prevent conflict from escalating into an argument or a full-scale fight. The most important element here is communication. You both need to feel free to express your thoughts and feelings when it comes to your finances. And you both need to learn to listen to what your partner has to say.
Don’t turn it into a situation when all you’re trying to do is prove you’re right and your partner is wrong. Listen, and be prepared to acknowledge where you’ve been wrong.
- Take a vow
When people have diverse spending habits, they might try to hide them from their partner. So, the shopaholic will have a credit card his/her spouse knows nothing about. Or your partner may take money from your savings for an ‘investment’ and then buy something you don’t really need.
A betrayal like this can feel as bad as infidelity. When you make yourself and your money available to someone else, you are exposing yourself and being vulnerable. If your partner takes this trust and abuses it with deceit, you might not be able to get past it. And they could wind up incurring debt that you will be held jointly liable for, chaining you to them forever.
- Put it into perspective
Money is necessary for survival. But don’t put it front and center in your relationship. Put your love for each other first, and you’ll find compromising surprisingly easy.