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3 Things You Can Do (Right Now!) To Head Off Relationship POISON

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#1 cause of divorce is money problems
Love

Seriously ladies, it's SO worth it.

Calvin was perfect. The last guy Jenna dated never spent a dime on her. “Hanging out” is fine, but every. single. time. they got together? No thanks. Calvin was different. He brought flowers, made reservations, and wrapped up thoughtful gifts. All the time. He was perfect.

Until he wasn’t.

Cut to reality. The shower of gifts was actually a torrential downpour of bills. Calvin was drowning in debt. He couldn’t actually afford any of it.

With her morning coffee in the kitchen they often shared, Jenna stared at his monster-sized credit card statement and wondered how she got here.

 

Jenna is not alone. Couples aren’t talking about money before they couple-up. And the results are ugly.

Research shows “money” is the number 1 thing divorced couples point to when asked why they threw in the towel.

A credit survey in January 2017 found that 71% of the divorced women surveyed say “their ex’s spending habits were different than expected after getting married.”

So what love lessons can women learn SOONER than later to avoid ugly surprises, fighting about money, breakups, and even divorce? Let’s start with:

 

1. Talk about money  TODAY!

Let this be your personal invitation to talk about money. Get over the idea that talking about money is too “personal” or even boring.

Is it boring to find out your spouse is piling up secret credit card debt, your boyfriend-turned-roommate is a gambler and deep in debt, or your spouse-to-be avoids movies not because it smells like stale popcorn, but he secretly hates to spend money on any kind of “frivolous” fun?

Talk to your boyfriend, partner, or your spouse about money. Ask them:

  • Where do you value spending money? Only necessities? Fun stuff? Gifts? Retirement? Dining out?
  • Do you have student loan debt?
  • How do you feel about credit cards?
  • Did your parents fight about money?
  • Does the thought of a fun trip excite you or make you sweat the cost?
  • Do you value the best brands over any old brand?
  • Do you need the latest and greatest?
  • Are you willing to spend more than you make?
  • How do you feel about saving, right now, for retirement?

If 59% of those surveyed say “finances” played a role in their decision to divorce, you can be 100% certain it’s worth talking about money sooner than later.

 

2. It’s not a deal-breaker if you handle money differently.

Once you talk to your significant other about money, if they sound like they’re from another planet, you’re not alone. Most couples find themselves paired with someone who sees money differently.

The guy who hates budgets and balances often finds himself attracted to the girl who counts her pennies and has a plan for every month. The woman who thinks people stay home unless they have a Groupon may be exhilarated to be whisked off to unexpected places where he scribbles his signature without even a glance at the final bill.

Those differences are fun at first but tend to be the source of conflict later in most relationships. He saves. She spends. They fight.

But those differences don’t need to be a deal-breaker. And because they are different doesn’t mean they are wrong. How you are wired to “see” money is never wrong.

Everyone is born with a personal approach to money. (Watch kids with a stash of candy and you’ll see just how early and ingrained this financial mindset is — some share, some trade, some don’t care, others squirrel it away for later.) Their approach to money is set, so your date’s money mindset isn’t likely to change just because you nag them enough or want them to see it differently.

It helps to work on your financial blind spots so you both can skip the hair-tear-out stage every time you have to plan for a trip, go out to dinner, or decide which kid you like best and they’ll go to college (we’re kidding).

You can make your differences work for your relationship if you both understand your money “personality” and honor the differences in one another instead of fighting or trying to change each other.

 

3. Just because he’s the dude doesn’t mean he should handle the money.

If it’s true that every individual approaches money differently, then it stands to reason if the guy is the “spender” in the family, it is probably not the greatest idea to put him in charge of everything dollars and cents. One person can “run point” on your finances, but no one — dude or dudette — should dominate the relationship’s money decisions. Both parties need to be up-to-date on “the state of the union”, financially.

We encourage couples to determine who is best suited to handle their money and go with that, remembering to add big gobs of regular (at least monthly) communication about: spending, saving, debt, future goals, and how each person is feeling about their money.

Relationships are difficult.

Toss money in the mix and the difficulty level skyrockets, but learning a few life lessons now saves you some of the pain.

 

Take a deep breath. Jump in. Start talking about your financial habits, hopes, and dreams.

It might make all the difference in your future relationships — or to the future of your relationship's success. No one likes learning lessons “the hard way”.

 

Scott & Bethany Palmer, The Money Couple, are financial planners, authors, and speakers who help couples tackle money issues in their relationship. To learn more about how you are wired to handle money, take the FREE online Money Personality Assessment. For practical methods to stop fighting about money, grab a copy of "The 5 Money Personalities: Speaking the Same Love and Money Language."