Relationships are often affected by money issues, particularly if you put off talking about it for too long. You and your partner should be on the same page and talk honestly—and regularly —about your finances.
Research has found that arguments about money often foretell divorce and tend to be more intense than couples’ fights over other subjects. When arguing about money, couples tend to use harsher language with one another, and the arguments usually last longer.
Understand the Warning Signs
Be aware of these signs indicating you and your partner need a financial conversation—and soon:
- You’re feeling uncomfortable about some aspect of your partner’s financial life. It could be anything; student loans, credit card debt, lack of savings or planning for retirement.
- Your partner’s money habits begin to directly affect you, perhaps because of joint ownership of assets—or debts.
- You’re considering getting married, living together, taking on joint debt, or combining finances in some other way.
How to Have The Talk
If you’re unsure how to start talking about your finances, use these tips to keep your conversations effective and positive:
Avoid words that could come across as scary or evoke a sense of dread. No one wants to hear their partner say, “We need to talk.” When you hear that phrase, your guard immediately comes up because you assume something bad is coming.
Start by addressing the positive. Talk about goals you want to achieve together and then discuss different ways to reach those goals.
Don’t unleash criticisms. If you have concerns or your partner struggles with a problem (like overspending or debt), remember and admit your own financial faults—then ask for your partner’s help to find a solution. This paves the way to discuss other important financial issues and shows that you don’t want to fight or be antagonistic. It shows you want to work together toward a solution.
Talk about goals and values. Sometimes it’s easier to begin by talking about what you and your partner value. Think of open-ended questions such as:
- What are your hopes and dreams?
- Which aspirations do you share together, and which are individual?
- What financial steps must you take to make each set of dreams come true?
Listen – and ask. Although you may have started the conversation, it is important to let your partner share their hopes, dreams and goals. Encourage your partner to ask questions as well. Be open and forthright when answering.
By being kind and respectful to one another when handling money questions and problems you and your partner will strengthen your relationship and pave the way for easier financial discussions in the future.