Money is one of the main reasons that couples run into trouble and have disagreements. Different attitudes towards cash, not being entirely honest about money troubles and sudden financial problems can cause some serious issues. Communication is the only way to ensure that money doesn’t cause problems between you and your partner. It may not be easy to discuss financial topics, especially if it involves admitting to mistakes, but it’s essential if you want to survive as a couple. These tips are designed to help make it easier for anyone to start an honest and open dialogue where money is concerned.
Starting the money conversation
Make it a priority to be honest and open about your finances from an early stage in the relationship. Find out whether you have different views on borrowing, for example, and whether your credit histories are similar. The more you know about your partner’s finances now, the less potential there will be for unpleasant surprises further down the line.
It’s not just about what you have or what you’ve done. Attitudes to money will also have a big influence over how compatible you are financially and so whether you’re more or less likely to have money issues. Try to find out early on whether your attitudes to cash are similar – do you both like to save or is one of you a saver and the other a spender?
Discomfort now is better than resentment later on. It’s never comfortable to talk about topics like money but better to feel that discomfort now than to be resentful later on as a result of a lack of miscommunication.
Keep up the discussion. The longer you’re together, the more likely it is that there will be changes in your joint and individual finances. Make it a feature of your relationship that you regularly sit down and make time for financial chat.
How to discuss money with your partner
Treat it like a business discussion. It’s tough to talk about money to a loved one who will be affected by your financial decisions. However, if you take a more objective view and discuss financial issues like you might with a business partner you will find it easier to be more practical and less emotional.
Start the conversation when the time is right. 11pm at night is not the right time to start a discussion about money. Pick a moment when you’ve both got the time to dedicate to a conversation and neither of you is overly stressed.
If you’ve got to raise a difficult topic do it gently and give your partner the context. Instead of just blurting out the problem and saying you don’t know what to do, explain how the situation arose, why you’re worried and why you need their help with it.
Keep the conversation balanced. Take turns to speak, listen to each other and take the time to think about what has been said before you react to it.
Make your plans together. If your finances are shared then you’re both going to be affected by any outcome so plans are better made jointly. Ensure you both agree on any plan of action that you choose and that you’re both on board with the steps that are required to get you to a specific place.
Avoid confusion. If you don’t both understand the situation then that confusion could cause some serious issues further down the line.
Ask questions. If you feel like your partner’s attitude to money is confusing or upsetting then ask them questions about why they feel like they do and why they’ve taken certain steps. Finding out more about an issue or attitude is more productive than getting angry about it.
Focus on shared goals. Having shared goals can help with financial attitude alignment. Set your goals together and then identify all the small steps that are going to take you from here to there as a couple.
Be honest. It’s always worse in the long run to fudge the issue now. Dishonesty about money can cause a lack of trust that may filter into many other areas of the relationship too.
Take a step back if you need to. It’s very easy for financial discussions to become heated. If you feel like the conversation is getting too much then take a step back and a little time apart and then come back to it later on.
According to relationship support charity Relate it’s important for couples to sit down and dedicate regular time to talking about financial realties, practicalities and attitudes. Making the effort could even save your relationship in the long run
Amanda Gillam is Solution Loans's General Manager and has been since 2009. She is also a prolific writer on personal finance issues, and has been quoted numerous times in articles published on 3rd party websites and in press releases. Her...Read more about Amanda Gillam