This post originally appeared on Girlboss.
Talking about money is at the top of the list of awkward convos most people avoid, and in a couple? It’s a straight up can of worms.
If discussing money matters has been a source of more conflict than cuddles in your relationship, the good news is it doesn’t have to stay that way.
In fact, talking about personal finances with your partner can actually bring you closer together. Even if there’s no contention, don’t you want to make sure you and your significant other are on the same page, finance-wise? First up, some background:
Money problems can ruin romance
Many people avoid talking about money because often our financial status is uncomfortably linked to our self-worth. This goes for those of us who’ve managed to acquire a substantial amount of wealth, as well as those who are struggling to make ends meet.
So it’s no surprise that the stresses associated with cash would seep into our romantic relationships, that other unfortunate measure of self-worth. One recent survey from SunTrust financial services found that 35 per cent of all respondents experiencing relationship stress said money was the primary cause of friction.
And, for those who are married, money problems are often cited as the leading cause of divorce. So yeah, it would seem addressing money issues head-on is a critical part of a healthy, thriving, and long-lasting relationship. But how?
Embrace open communication (doy)
Effective communication is key to solving most any relationship problem; the subject of personal finances is no exception to that rule. Clear and honest communication about money helps bring a couple on the same page, and encourages a sense of empathy and teamwork within their relationship.
That means that each person should know how much the other earns, have a general idea of what their expenses are, and how much debt and savings or investments they each have. A survey by Fidelity found that nearly 43 per cent of respondents couldn’t confidently state their partner’s salary. This leaves a major aspect of someone’s life hidden from their domestic partner. Not good!
Additionally, there are clear gender differences in the ways that men and women communicate about any given topic, especially for something as sensitive as money. Additionally, research has stated that men aren’t as skilled as women at dealing with more than one problem or task at a time.
That means that trying to bring up money problems while your partner is under a tight work deadline isn’t the best idea. But with that said, as their partner, you also have the right to ask them when might be a good time, and dedicate that time to talk about finances. And, make sure you don’t blindside your partner.
Give ’em a heads up, so they can have time to mentally, and even emotionally prepare.
Encouraging money talk
One of the most effective ways to foster healthy, meaningful and productive communication around the subject of money is to create a budget together. This goes especially for those in serious domestic relationships. With so many shared regular expenses like rent or mortgage payments, car payments and utility bills, working on a budget together is pretty vital, if you want a strong understanding of how much money is coming in and going out.
Budgeting as a couple also helps to align your long-term goals; it gives you the opportunity dream together. Whether you want to buy house one day, start a business or family, or travel the world – those are dreams that require you to communicate, openly about the green paper stuff.
Financial problems should never be the reason that a relationship ends. If you’re avoiding the topic of money, you’re potentially allowing resentment to creep in, or worse. Instead, just talk about it.
Understand your different communication styles, be considerate of when and how you bring it up, align your goals, and work together to reach them. Do that, and you can’t really go wrong.