How to talk about money in relationships
While we are more accepting of attaching love and romance to chocolates and roses, and even illustrious holidays, very few people are comfortable discussing how these romantic gestures are made possible. However, cash is king, yes, even in relationships, (and arguably) especially in relationships. But however unromantic, having conversations about how you manage your cash is important.
Relationship experts say money worries are the most common reason for relationship difficulties and tackling the topic early on avoids the potential for resentments to emerge later and lead to more destructive arguments.
You can start with more easy-going questions like asking if your partner is a spender or a saver, or what they dream of achieving with their money. The more you make talking about money a habit, it won’t be difficult to bring it up later when certain issues come up. Financial intimacy is a very important part of any relationship and in creating a financial life together. Some key elements for building financial intimacy include flexibility, inclusivity, equality, transparency, and sustainability.
Life changes, and so does our financial situations, so don’t be afraid to change if the financial plan doesn’t work anymore or your circumstances change. Additionally, you should be able to share information about your finances with your partner openly, and you should have an equal voice (and power) in financial decisions. Last but not least, you and your partner must come up with a long-term financial plan.
Here are some easy steps to take to make the process of talking about money in relationships much easier.
Acknowledge the discomfort and give some advance notice
It’s not easy to talk casually and naturally about things like your debt history or being raised in an unstable economic environment. You have to put in the effort. Acknowledge that this might involve stumbling through some awkward moments and tactfully ease into this process. Give your significant other some time to ready themselves for the conversation. To ensure your partner doesn’t feel put on the spot when the time comes, be clear about what you’re asking when you first introduce the idea.
Exercise some tact
While it is okay and often recommended to talk about who will pay for what in a relationship, it is definitely not okay to pry. It is always best to start with the small stuff like dinner and parking, laying the groundwork for deeper conversations of rent and groceries later. Being cognizant of time and space is especially important when it comes to talking about money in relationships. Also, gauge how far your partner is willing to go at a certain stage in the relationship. Slow and steady wins the race here. If your partner is not yet ready to discuss their credit score and student loan debt yet, read the room.
Identify your shared values
While most people are aware of the strain that money issues can have on a relationship, often the cracks are linked to your individual and/or shared values which money habits form a part of. For example, your boo might be a sucker the best discounts in town, and you may prefer the finer things in life, but if you’re going to be sharing your expenses, you’re going to need to find a middle ground. Find out if you have any shared values and dreams, like for instance as well as how will money help you reach those goals?
Don’t try to solve everything & don’t impose your money ways on the other person
Our childhood memories of money management around the household are often the root cause of the bulk of our financial troubles. Also, life happens, and major financial changes may happen for either party in the relationship. One of you might lose a job, change jobs, forcing a geographical move or you might even need to start taking care of a family member. These things happen and the solutions to are not always clear cut. The point is to understand them, not come up with an action plan. To avoid running the risk of feeling stifled and stampeded upon, which could lead to resentment in the relationship, we have to learn to offer one another a lot of autonomy and space.
Make it a habit.
Regular money check-ins give you a defined forum for discussion, so issues won’t fester or appear suddenly when you’re grumpy after work or mad that you’ve paid for groceries twice. Considering that financial situations fluctuate all the time, you both get the chance to evaluate what’s working and adapt to changes.
Founder and Debt Counsellor at National Debt Advisors Sebastien Alexanderson said not being completely honest about finances is a common thread in most relationships. He said the truth is most couples don’t often discuss debt and finances because it’s hard to get a conversation started.
“Everyone has a different attitude towards money. Perhaps you save your pennies and are always cautious. Or you might feel that money is there for you to spend and that you cannot take it with you. We all come from different backgrounds and have different opinions about money. What matters is how we manage these differences,” Alexanderson said.