The most valuable thing in a long-term stable relationship is having a partnership, and most new couples don’t realize that money is a major factor in marital happiness. Money is one of the biggest generators of problems, arguments, and resentment in long-term relationships. Couples argue about spending, saving budgeting, and disparity in earnings. When couples have difficulty with money, it can lead to financial infidelity: out-of-control spending, lying and hiding finances; which can destroy the relationship. Overcoming money problems together and working as a team will strengthen the bond between you, and help you create a healthy, lasting partnership.
Money doesn’t have to be a wedge between you and your partner. It can be a great tool for learning more about one another and using money matters as a discussion point can help your relationship grow and thrive. Money can create misery or happiness, depending on how you mange it. Making long-term plans, helping reach goals and improving your quality of life are just some of the things you will be able to accomplish if you work together.
How Men and Women’s Innate Differences Influence Finances:
Women’s and men’s brains, and therefore language processing and reasoning, are organized differently. Cultural anthropologists theorize that it’s because of the different survival skills they needed to learn. Research shows that women tend to be good at multitasking, cooperation and relationship-building and less focused on reaching a specific goal. Men are more goal oriented, and less complex thinkers.
When it comes to money, these differences show themselves in financial behavior. When men get into financial trouble, it is often through gambling (cards, stock market, fantasy football) or spending on drugs, porn or male toys like automobiles. Women tend to overspend on fashion, household items or on the kids. Women’s drugs problems often begin with prescription medication. Both genders can get into trouble trying to help family members or children who are out of control. The following guidelines can help couples bridge their money gap.
Money talks need to be a part of scheduling weekly meetings—not just for money, but also for catching up with one another. Bills, social planning, long-term goals and working on your relationship are just some of the issues you’ll discuss. Just sitting down once a week to talk about what happened and bringing the checking account up to date can be a good management tool, a time to talk about long-term plans such as purchasing a house or paying off college debt. Use the time not only to take stock of your finances, but of your relationship, too. Ask each other what is going well and what needs improvement.
If you do it with the right attitude, this weekly meeting will be something that you look forward to, not an ordeal that you dread. As you talk about positive solutions and setting out long-term goals, many financial and other problems will be solved as they arise, and before they become difficult. If you endeavor to share the time and energy in a mutually beneficial way, it can become a social occasion. Make it a pleasant occasion go out to dinner together or wait until the children are asleep or have a late breakfast on a Saturday morning, and use the following guidelines to help you.
Guidelines for Money Discussions
1. Share your different attitudes about money. Talk about how your families dealt with money, and what you liked and didn’t like about their style. Share your observations about how various friends handle money, and share what you think. Then make the discussion more personal by talking about how you feel about money, spending, saving, and your future dreams.
2. Discuss long-term joint financial goals (i.e. a new home, baby, education, travel, ’household repairs or retirement). The previous step should lead you naturally into a further discussion of your long-term goals, and into a discussion of specific steps you need to follow to reach them. Steps should include saving and/or raising money to realize your goals, and a plan for how long you think it will take.
3. Put your plan to work. Once you have the steps outlined, break the first couple steps down into small increments and choose steps for which each of you will take the responsibility in the coming week.
4. Establish separate checking accounts or personal spending budgets. As part of your plans, you may want to open separate checking accounts, savings accounts for building your dreams, and agree on budgets for personal spending from your available funds. How to Budget steps are in Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting about the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage.
5. Discuss how the plan is going on a weekly basis. Keep this discussion going every week, and keep each other informed about how your plans are going. This is a good time to discuss the bills that need to be paid, changes in income or expenses, and what you need to do to accommodate the changes.
6. Keep talking. No matter how well or poorly your finances are going at any given time; keep your financial discussions going. The more frequently you discuss your finances, the less difficult the discussions will be, and the more likely that you’ll make good financial choices. ’
This article was originally published at Tina B. Tessina
. Reprinted with permission from the author.