Talking about money in a relationship is super important. For most of us talking about money is also super hard. When things are going well it’s easier to have the conversation. Who doesn’t like talking about how to spend a raise or add more money onto the mortgage or into your retirement account? But more often than not there are the days when it’s extremely hard to talk about how to pay the bills, invest in your business, go back to school, pay down your mortgage, get life insurance or tackle debt. I would argue that those are the most important times to talk about the money.
Not When Times Are Tough:
I know what you are thinking, when emotions are running high and you are in a difficult situation talking about money is the last thing you might want to do. Sometimes romantic relationships are difficult and but let’s be honest all relationships are hard in some way, shape or form. In my eyes I define a relationship as two people who share something, whether it’s time, space or a life, are in a relationship. In a romantic relationship it’s most difficult because you are likely combining a life and moving together as one. And let’s all be adult here and say that things aren’t going to be great all the time.
Side Note: Scott and I were having a conversation a while ago. It was getting difficult to deal with the emotions that were coming out of it. In an effort to cut the tension I said “Wow, relationships are tough, aren’t they?” It did not cut the tension like I hoped and I kind of had to do some backpedaling right after I said it. But I stand by it that relationships are tough and if you want to make it work you have to deal with all the stuff, good and bad that come along with it.
It’s for the health of the Relationship:
Did you know that arguments about money can possibly predict the likelihood of a breakup and/or lower relationship satisfaction? Yikes. For both genders? Double yikes! A study from Kansas State University that studied 4500 couples, while controlling for income, debt and net worth showed this. According to the study arguments about money take longer to get over than any other type of argument. Why? It’s because we use harsher language and the fights usually last longer.
So why do I think that talking about money when things aren’t great is so important?
When things are hard being on the same page and talking openly about money is a step towards getting things to a better place. If you are in the crunch years, dealing with the crushing responsibilities of mortgages, a career and children things might go off the rails from time to time. But if you are in a stable and loving relationship (which I hope you are) talking about things that are going on with money will help get you through the tough part. Having a plan that you are both comfortable with is important to making the difficult parts easier.
What if you don’t combine your money?
That’s cool, I promise. Even though Scott and I combine our money and it works well for us doesn’t mean it works for everyone. Check out Jessica Moorhouse on why she doesn’t combine money with her husband. I would argue that if you don’t combine finances you have even more of a responsibility to talk things out and to share what is going on. I know that I can open a spreadsheet and look at all the purchases that Scott has made if I want to. That’s full transparency. Even if you don’t combine your money you can share your budget with your partner. There is nothing stopping you from doing that.
On Secrets and White Lies:
For many people keeping your money decisions private means private budgets. If you don’t want to share your budget then give them an update on how things are. If you have a goal like saving “X” amount for retirement or the house down payment you should keep your partner posted on the progress. Be as open as you can. Share actual numbers or a percentage of the goal you discussed. Encourage your partner to do the same. If you are saving up for a joint goal like a down payment or even a vacation and your partner doesn’t find out you are short until the day before the money is needed things won’t go well. Talking things up front, even if they are challenging, can help resolve issues before they become a big problem.
Your Relationship is Worth It:
I know that talking about money when things aren’t going well is difficult but it’s worth the investment in the relationship. If you can get on the same page with your partner with times are difficult it will make dealing with the rough patches a lot easier. Two people dealing with problems is better than one person. Open up and talk about money and even if the conversations are difficult at first. If you keep at it things will get better and talking about money will be become second nature.
And think, if you can get through the rough patches think about how fun it will be dealing with the good times when you are completely on the same page and in sync with your money thoughts.
What strategies have worked for you when talking money in a relationship?
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