Money issues are often among the key reasons for long-term relationships and marriages falling apart, as many people don’t know how to discuss finances in a calm and rational way with their partners.
According to Marriage.com, a lack of financial compatibility is a contributing cause for almost 41% of divorces.
So with Valentine’s Day fresh in the memory, read on to discover which financial issues you should look to cover with your partner, how to go about discussing them, and tips for collaboratively agreeing on any plans.
Discussing and agreeing on financial issues is vital to maintaining harmony in a relationship
As a relationship progresses and a couple spends more time together, it is likely that financial issues will start to crossover into their romantic lives.
This can begin small with picking up the tab for date night, but may move onto decisions about:
- Living together
- Co-paying bills
- Buying property
- Having children
People have different attitudes towards money and approaching financial issues, so it’s important to learn about your respective beliefs and how to discuss finances in a calm, loving, and reassuring manner.
According to Royal London, money is the main reason couples in the UK argue, with 62% of surveyed partners having had a disagreement about money — the most common cause being excessive spending.
The report goes on to state that:
- 33% of couples admit their spending and saving preferences are incompatible with their partner
- 24% consider their partners to be irresponsible with money
- 33% keep financial secrets from their partners, including hiding savings or debts.
Learning how to discuss finances with your partner in a healthy way could be key to the long-term future of your relationship and ensuring any joint financial decisions are in the best interests of both of you.
5 tips for discussing finances with your partner
- Understand each other’s financial history and mindset
It is important that, when you start to share financial responsibilities with a partner, you address each other’s financial history early on. If either party has experienced problems in the past with debts, it could be a good step to discuss the details and ensure they won’t play a negative role in future joint financial decisions.
It could also be a good step to figure out your partner’s financial mindset. For example, are they a spender or a saver? How do they approach bills and cash flow?
Remember: developing a mutual understanding could be vital in maintaining financial harmony.
- Set joint goals and agree on how you want to reach them
As with financial planning, your long-term goals are likely to play a key role in any decisions you collaboratively make. This may involve if you want to get married, have children, or own property, and in the longer-term, your ideal retirement.
It is important from a financial and relationship perspective that you establish if you have these shared goals in mind, as any major disagreements with them could be detrimental and potentially relationship-ending.
Once you’ve come to a general agreement, you can take steps to plan for major milestones financially.
- Consider ways to simplify money matters
Discussing finances can be stressful at the best of times, so developing ways to avoid unnecessary conversations about money could help boost your emotional wellbeing, and reduce arguments.
Simple steps such as organising a joint discretionary spending kitty for small household expenses and having a spreadsheet to manage your monthly budget could help resolve little issues.
You could also take steps to simplify larger-scale and more complicated matters. This might involve setting up a joint account for recurring major bills or ensuring written agreements are in place for shared assets or debts.
It might also be worth retaining a degree of financial autonomy, so neither party feels trapped. Each of you benefits from access to your own funds for luxuries without having to start a lengthy conversation with the other.
- Avoid the blame game, be honest, and don’t hide anything
It is crucial that you don’t allow emotions to distort financial conversations. Work on discussing any issues you and your partner face logically and work collectively to find solutions. Don’t keep a tally of each other’s mistakes or try to assign blame. It is likely to lead to further tensions.
It is important that you are both open and honest about any problems, whether you’ve incurred an unexpected debt, or lost money on an investment, or been hit with a sudden bill.
Don’t hide anything from your partner and make sure you have a transparent relationship so that both parties understand any issues you collectively face.
The foundations of a strong relationship are built on trust, so lies and secrets are rarely a wise move.
- Keep time free for regular “money dates” and seek professional advice
Setting aside the time to regularly catch up about money and cover issues such as bills, spending, savings, and future plans, can be useful for maintaining an open and honest dialogue.
It might allow you to catch any potential arguments or problems before they become an issue and help you both keep your long-term goals aligned and mutually on track to reach them.
If you find it increasingly difficult to resolve financial issues, as with relationship problems, it might be worth consulting an outsider and seeking professional help.
Working with a financial planner could provide you and your partner a mediator to guide you through issues and help keep any conversations focused on the topics rather than overriding emotions.
It just might be the key to keeping your partner happy and retaining financial harmony in your relationship.
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This article is no substitute for financial advice and should not be treated as such. To determine the best course of action for your individual circumstances, please contact us.