This guest article from Psych Central was written by Nathan Feiles, LMSW
Money can be a touchy topic in relationships, whether you have a little bit or a whole lot. How we handle money is usually related to a deeper emotional issue, rather than strictly a financial issue. Our personal relationship with money creates the foundation for how we handle finances in our significant relationships. And when our partners don’t share the same type of relationship with money as we do, money-handling can cause tension and disagreements, possibly leading to resentment and even breakups, if the issues persist.
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It’s common that both partners may not agree about money-handling, but it’s possible to compromise. The trouble generally starts either when financial guidelines in the relationship haven’t been established — so there are no boundaries for handling money; or when guidelines are established, but the boundaries are crossed without discussion or agreement.
One of the biggest areas of conflict I hear in couples therapy is the idea that one wants to put money away for the future, while the other wants to live in the present and stop saving so much. While there may be validity to both points of view, these desires are opposite, and therefore will need compromise in order to keep conflict from continuously arising.
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It takes time to change our personal relationships with money. We may have the urge to spend or save, much in the same ways we internalized growing up. Undoubtedly, compromises take self-discipline. For the sake of balancing our relationship, we may need to be a little more flexible, or a little more conservative than we are used to.
So here are some things to consider in order to balance the issue of money in your relationship:
1) The money conversation is open. Unless previously agreed, neither side can dictate how money is spent, or have the ability to “close” conversations because they don’t agree with a request. Compromise requires both sides to keep an open mind and be willing to listen to requests for how to handle money, even if the requests don’t align with our own money-handling values. Be able to discuss compromises for these types of issues: