Money friction can end up being the main source of disagreement in a relationship. You are probably familiar with the common statistic that roughly half of American marriages end in divorce. Out of those marriages, estimates are that between 35 to 50 percent of them ended because of money problems and disagreements. Throw in a lack of communication and you can see why it is vital to a healthy partnership to talk about finances.
Some people think the solution to this is to remain in a committed relationship without getting married. I hate to tell you this, but the statistics remain around the same. A 2014 study from the American Psychological Association found that 31% of adults with a partner reported that money is a major source of conflict. Whether you are married or not, if you are in a relationship with another person, money will end up being a huge deal.
Money Friction – How Can You Overcome It?
Compared to other big ticket items, money arguments tend to be more intense, more problematic, and tend to take a long time to resolve. If you and your significant other share the exact same values about finances, consider yourself fortunate. Even with differences, money does not have to bring constant friction between you.
Like anything else it takes time, honesty, and practice to improve. If you both work at it, you and your partner can learn to talk about money in a healthy and satisfying way. Your conversations can strengthen your bond and not continue to keep tearing it apart.
A study from Cambridge University indicates that the majority of our money habits are formed by age 7. So, long before your hormones started raging and you started to think about others in a romantic way, the foundation was built for your attitude toward money.
A Lifetime of Money Habits
As you grew up, you inherited your views on money from the significant people in your life. Your parents, grandparents, and other influential adults helped shape and form your beliefs. The TV shows, movies, and advertisements you watched also were a factor in influencing your young mind.
Your surroundings played a big influence as well. One of you may have grown up relatively affluent and the other may have come from a family that was working hard fighting poverty. Perhaps you or your loved ones were raised in another country in an economic system quite different from the one you grew up in.
Some of my family members grew up in Communist Eastern Europe and remember waiting in line for food and toilet paper for hours. When “luxury” items came in like beef, bananas, or pineapple, the entire city would rush out and try to get their hands on a small portion. Growing up in that environment gave them a very different view on money than I had in the United States.
Important Discussions to Have Early On
Once you get past the friendship stage, couples usually start talking about the really important things in their future. Do you want to get married? Do you want to have children? Where do you want to work? Where do you want to live? Unfortunately, throughout all of the important conversations, there is rarely an exchange of financial goals and viewpoints.
The good news is that it is never too late to start. Whether you have been together for several weeks or several years you can still address the situation. Discussions about your deeply held beliefs about money is a necessary step to getting on the same page.
Sometimes the biggest challenge of having the discussion is just bringing up the subject. If you have not had in depth conversations on money it can be awkward. Are you afraid the very mention will lead to an argument? That can make it really tough to muster up the energy to do even being it up. If you are reading this blog, it is very possible that your partner would not be very interested in this topic. It’s common among couples!
Money Friction – Getting On the Same Page
Only about a third of couples share an equal role in paying bills, managing money, and making financial decisions. Usually you will have one partner that is very interested in budgeting and one that does not really care about finances. As long as bills are getting paid they are probably happy to not be involved.
Take the opportunity to bring the topic up and tackle it head on. If it has been a source of friction, bring that up too. Get all the cards on the table and have the discussion. It will open a lot of doors for a future of collaboration and improved communication.
Talk about the things that helped shape your views on money. You probably know your partners’ basic family history, but ask them what their parents taught them about finances. Here are a few good questions to start:
• Which parent paid the bills and managed the check book?
• Did they argue about money?
• Were they spenders or savers?
• Did they make them save up for things they wanted as a kid, or did they buy everything for them?
Work Together to Overcome Money Friction
A lot of people get out on their own and feel completely clueless in regards to finances. Most parents shield their children from money discussions in the home. Personal finance education is rare in school. Your loved one may very well find you attractive partly because you take an interest in money topics. You may help fill a void for them since they do not want to deal with it.
Ask your partner what their goals are. We just talked about setting goals in the last chapter. Do you know what each other’s financial goals are? Either way, both of you will absolutely have financial goals. It is just a matter of understanding that you cannot read each other’s minds.
If you have had money arguments before, it is likely that you get irritated over things you have never actually discussed in detail. Perhaps you expect to save 20 percent of your income. Meanwhile, your partner spends like there is no tomorrow and does not give any thought to putting cash aside. Without meaningful discussion there is going to be friction.
Compromise is a Part of Life
The nice thing is that if you are both willing to discuss the subject, you can come to some reasonable compromises. This allows you to tackle it as a true partnership. Try to empathize and see their viewpoint. After some deep discussions, people can come to the realization that one of them has a spending problem. Once that is clear you can work together to overcome it.
Along with goals, another deeply personal topic to address is your fears about money. Both of you may need to confront some fears and anxiety over financial matters. If money was a source of stress for your parents, perhaps you or your partner have some emotional scars to address. So many of these emotions are result of your upbringing.
Money Friction and Fear
A lot of people are afraid of being broke for the rest of their life. You may have seen a lot of your friends and family wiped out by the financial meltdown in 2008-2009 and it scared you. Perhaps your grandparents or great grandparents were a product of the Great Depression. Those people know what it is like to grow up very impoverished.
Whatever fears you have about money, it is likely your partner shares some of them. Once you discuss them and get the out in the open, they are not so daunting. Meaningful discussion helps immensely. Remember, logic and money do not usually go hand in hand.
A lot of your fears may end up being based on an unreasonable viewpoint. Getting a new perspective can help you can overcome them easier. You might even develop a sense of humor toward them once you notice how often they come up in your thinking. The more you face your fears, the less intimidating they are.