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Relationships can be hard enough on their own, but once you add money into the picture, it can make or break your marriage or relationship. 46% of couples think that money is the largest obstacle to a happy marriage, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Knowing the top relationship money problems couples have and how they either prevent or solve them is the key to a happy marriage:
Love relationships are valuable, and life is too short to let money stand in your way.
Find ways to work out your money problems and put both partners on level playing fields no matter how much (or little) money each partner makes.
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Here are the top relationship money problems and how you can prevent or solve them:
Relationship Money Problem #1: Not Telling the Truth about Spending
If you don’t have open communication about your finances, it could lead to financial infidelity, which some couples equate to just as bad as physically cheating.
If you lie about your spending and rack up credit card debt, it could hurt both of you in the long run, especially if you need to apply for new credit to buy a house, car, or other major expense. Before buying anything new, consider carefully do you really need that new house or a fancy car? Look at your own spending critically, and be honest with your spouse.
Even if you divorced, all the financial liabilities (or at least half of them!) will follow you to your new single life after divorce or the supposed-to-be-happier new relationship later on. What kind of dream life are you really dreaming of? That doesn’t need to cost you anything extra.
Relationship Money Problems #2: Not Disclosing your Total Debt
If you enter a relationship later in adulthood, you may come to the relationship with a lot of ‘financial baggage.’ This isn’t a bad thing unless you don’t disclose it to your partner until after you’re married.
Your spouse may not be liable for debts since you incurred them before the marriage, but they’ll take up your finances to cover them. If your spouse didn’t know about them, it could be detrimental to the relationship especially if you have large amounts of student debt or credit card debt.
Before you get married, disclose the debts you’re bringing to the table and together decide how you’ll tackle them. Your soon-to-be-spouse may even have good ideas on how to refinance or consolidate the debts to pay them off faster.
For some practical tips, check these books in Amazon (*affiliate links):
Relationship Money Problem #3: One Partner Makes more than the Other
If one spouse makes more money than another or only one spouse works, that spouse may assume he/she gets control over the finances. This could cause hurt feelings and resentment in the relationship.
While it’s important for one spouse to have control overpaying the bills and balancing the checkbook, both partners should feel equal in the relationship.
Rather than dictating what the non-working spouse or lower-paid spouse can spend, create a financial plan together so you both feel equal in the relationship.
Relationship Money Problems #4: Not Communicating about your Finances
Communication is the key to success when handling your finances or any other topics affecting your relationship.
If you want to avoid power struggles, the need to hide purchases, or arguments, set regular ‘dates’ to talk about your finances.
Make it at a time when you both feel at ease and aren’t stressed about work, family, or other unrelated topics that could spill over into your conversations about money. During your talks, discuss what’s going well and what may need some help to turn things around.
Setting aside time to talk monthly is usually good, but you and your spouse should decide what works best for you.
Relationship Money Problems #5: You Each Have Different Money Mindsets and Personalities
No two people have the same money mindset. If you are a ‘free spender’ and your spouse is a ‘number cruncher’ you may bump heads often when talking about money.
Different personalities are what makes the world go round so it’s not a bad thing. It’s only bad when you don’t talk to one another or respect one another’s wishes. For example, the number cruncher may feel ‘in control’ and tell a ‘free spender’ how and where to spend.
A ‘free spender’ may feel controlled and angry at their spouse if they make them feel bad for their financial decisions.
Going into the relationship, know each other’s money mindsets and find a way to meet in the middle so both parties feel heard.
To build a better money mindset, I warmly recommend you to read these two (yes, both!) books*. I find them both interesting:
Relationship Money Problem #6: Not Setting Financial Goals Together and Independently
You can’t achieve financial security if you don’t have financial goals together. Don’t put all the pressure on one spouse and then think it’s okay to feel angry when you haven’t met any financial milestones.
Saving money is a joint effort. You must both be on the same page, but spouses often have different financial goals. Before you decide which goals you’ll try to reach, talk to one another and prioritize your goals.
You may find in your discussions that you have some similar goals and some not-so-similar goals. As you talk and compromise, you’ll come to an agreement on some goals and have some ‘independent goals’ you each want to achieve.
The key is to talk about them, decide how you’ll reach all goals at some point and try to make it happen. And Excel and Google Sheets are always a good tool for budgeting and forecasting your great plans 🙂
Relationship Money Problems #7: Not Having Good Money Routines
Agree how you decide to split your bills in a fair manner, and have the courage to renegotiate the rules later, if needed. Create some good routines together, and if you know you have some personal problems of your own, don’t make your spouse pay for them, okay?
Take responsibility of your own money issues, and learn to minimize your spending (if that is the problem).
Don’t take any money problems for granted, because all issues in life can be solved and improved. If you just are willing to do the work. Sometimes it’s physical work (to earn more money to pay the bills), but more often it’s mental work to spend less and get happiness from other things than shopping and spending money.
Would you be able to enjoy your relationship more after you have solved your money issues? Take responsibility of both your finances and your relationship.
From these books (associate links*) you can get more inspirations to build your money mindset and create good routines:
Relationship Money Problems #8: No financial plans
You owe it to yourself and to your partner, that you plan for your financial future in case of e.g.:
- Having children and raising them
- Short- and long-term unemployment
- Longer sick leaves
- Study leaves (e.g. if you or your spouse wants to study another profession)
- Starting a business or if your company goes bankrupt
It’s better to have the discussions with your spouse about how these kinds of potential financial problems will be handled. We all face problems in life. It’s easier to find solutions beforehand to potential future events, than trying to solve acute problems when you’re stressed by the life changing event.
Relationship Money Problems #9: Not Setting the Guidelines
At the start of your relationship, you should have set guidelines as to how you’ll handle your finances as a couple. But did you even speak about money back then?
So, now make a summary of your “money talks” and agree also e.g:
- Should you ask permission of the other spouse to make a purchase?
- Do you each have freedom to spend a specific amount?
Every couple has different ways to handle their finances and communicating spending. You may not want to feel like you’re a ‘helicopter spouse’ watching every penny your spouse spends, but being on the same page certainly helps.
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Manage your money mindset and have a happy relationship!
Marriage may be hard sometimes. Add finances to the picture and it can feel even impossible at times.
Fortunately, with good communication, a plan, and including both partners in all aspects of your finances, you can have a happy relationship and manage your finances.
If you find that you don’t agree on something, talk it out. Don’t hide your spending or hold regrets against your spouse. Decide how you’ll handle the problems and where they fall in with your top financial priorities. And enjoy your love life despite occasional money issues!
your coach Kati
Clinical Hypnotherapist, NLP Trainer, CPA, M.Sc.(Econ.), Entrepreneur, Author