Taking examples from my family and friends there are couples that don’t discuss money, that fight about money, that are completely in sync when it comes to money and then there are couples that know a lot and couples that know a little. Every situation is different which is why I think the single most important point when it comes to relationships and money is communication.
I’m currently single but in my past relationships I have always been the planner, the saver, the geek. I’ve learned that money really can be a breaking point in a relationship. If you don’t handle it well, if you don’t talk about it, if you mismanage it or try to ignore it, it will eventually rear its’ ugly head. I’m certainly no expert on finance or relationships for that matter, but I do have a few ideas of what I think would make things work in a future relationship.
Managing money with open communication
Be clear about your past and current situation before moving in together or getting married. A nasty surprise such as creditors calling when you’ve already moved in together isn’t bound to make a good start to your life together.
I think it is very important to be completely open about finances before making any serious moves. I’ve learned that building a solid and trusting relationship is not just about trusting your partner not to get hot and heavy with the waitress on a boys night out… It’s also about being able to decide where the money goes together and dealing with things such as emergencies and job-loss. If one of you loses their job, how will you manage your money? It’s about trusting the other person to look out for you, not just for your emotional and physical well-being, but also your financial well-being.
Part of open communication is setting aside time to talk about money. Don’t do as I do and bring up money in the middle of a lazy night on the couch with a good movie. Set aside some time to talk about bills that are due and to make plans.
Four things couples argue about most: In-laws, religion, children and you guessed it… money. When it comes to handling conflict I realize my own flaws (passive aggressive anyone?) It takes patience and also maturity to resolve an argument, especially when it is about money.
Patience and kindness will get you much further than stomping out the door angry. Try to understand your partner’s perspective. You were most likely raised differently and were taught different values. Setting and achieving goals together rather than alone is much more satisfying than trying to do it all by yourself.
In short, I think the key to managing your money together and avoiding conflict about money successfully is communication. Don’t try to shoulder the load yourself, there are two people in the relationship and you each have your own goals and dreams, try to find a way to reach those dreams and goals together.
My comments: Scheduling time to talk about money is a great point. Bringing up the topic in the middle of a movie or a football game definitely wouldn’t go over too well. Patience and kindness always works. It’s just trying to remember this when you’re in a heated argument. You can check out my thoughts on this topic right here.