Most of us probably wish that we could live in a world where money and stress (and stress about money) didn’t affect our relationships. Unfortunately, these things really can’t be avoided. In fact, finances are one of the main reasons that people argue with their partners or spouses, many times leading to breakups and divorces.
You might think that the solution to this problem of finances and relationships is simple: get more money.
However, even people with comparatively large amounts of money still seem to argue over it. Because the more you have, the more you spend.
This means that the solution to the struggle over finances has less to do with how much money we have and more to do with how we deal with our partners related to money. History and research show that it might be difficult to completely remove the fact that money and finances may be stressful.
So the question is: what can we do about it?
One of the most important ways we can protect our relationships from arguments over finances is to set some ground rules. Whether you have been together for five months or fifty years, it is never too late to create new boundaries and minimize relationship problems caused by finances.
Of course, these rules will be different for everyone. The most important part is that guidelines need to be agreed upon ahead of time, new habits need to be created, and compromise needs to be struck related to financial matters to minimize the stress.
Here are five examples of principles that help partners to keep their relationships healthy in spite of money problems.
Sure, it might seem easier to keep money issues a secret than divulge them. But in reality, this is a huge mistake. Hidden accounts or credit cards, loss of income, or a tanking of investment accounts is a hard thing to tell your partner about.
But not telling them is even more damaging.
While your partner might be upset by hearing the bad financial news, it’s much better than the risk of them finding out later. Relationships that are built on trust can survive financial problems.
But keeping secrets and hiding things builds suspicion and can break down what might otherwise be a great relationship.
Instead, set up a time to have an honest dialogue about your financial difficulties and come up with a plan to manage them.
Consult Each Other on Major Purchases
If you share a bank account, then this is a critical principle to live by. It’s up to you to determine what constitutes a “major purchase.”
It might be anything over $100 or anything over $10,000 depending on the typical balance in your bank account.
Obviously, regular bills such as the mortgage or car payment will not be included in this. But for anything outside normal bills that goes above your agreed-upon amount, check with your partner to avoid any nasty surprises.
This kind of system can also bring some accountability to avoid the dangers of binge purchasing or emotional buying that later comes with remorse.
Savings is Sexy
Want to be attractive to your partner? Fatten up—your savings account, that is.
While many partners don’t always agree on who is the spender and who is the saver, if you are both working toward a savings plan, then it doesn’t really matter.
A healthy savings strategy and budget are considered to be an extremely appealing quality in a partner. The easiest way to do this is to set up a budgeted amount money that your bank with put directly into your savings account each paycheck.
Plus, if you’re not fighting about money, you have more time to enjoy one another in various other ways.
Stay Out of Debt
If you don’t have debt, do everything you can to avoid it. You’re in a good place—so stay there. Because spending habits cause more fights than saving habits, watching the spending, and avoiding debt, are vital to keeping peace in a relationship.
If one partner came into the relationship with debt, do your best to delay whatever you can to pay off the debt before making any more significant financial commitments. And try very hard not to be resentful of the person who brought the debt into the relationship.
Instead, work together. Make a plan on how to get out from under the debt (financial advisor, part-time job, stay-cation, etc.) and stick to the plan. One of the great benefits of a partnership is that you don’t have to face these types of problems alone.
Identifying the fact that money is a major stressor should alert you to the fact that you may need to handle financial conversations with your partner with kid gloves. This is a time when thinking ahead is better than reacting emotionally.
For instance, if you are going through your online banking and find that your partner has forgotten to pay a bill or has made a large purchase without mentioning it to you, don’t jump immediately into confrontation.
Instead, try to remember that you love this person, faults and all, and they are much more important than money.
Get your blood pressure back to a normal rate and devise a plan under which you can approach the subject without attacking your partner.
Then, come up with a plan to solve the problem rather than saying hurtful things that you can’t take back.
Remember that money isn’t everything, find a resolution, don’t hold grudges, and move forward from whatever the setback is.
Following these five simple steps can make a huge difference in your finances and relationships —and in the rest of your life. You’ll find that you can manage money conversations with less stress, which leads to being physically healthier and having more emotional energy to spend on the things that you love doing.
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