Money Talks

money-relationships_articleIt is a well-known fact that the topic of money management can be a major source of stress and of discontent in many marriages. In fact, disagreements over money are one of the leading contributors to divorce.

It’s understandable- money is a hot-button issue, especially when the couple is not in sync in terms of their attitudes towards money, saving and spending. Money doesn’t have to be a source of anguish though- and like everything else comes down to solid, consistent communication and expression of expectations.

Have you had the Talk?

Although it is fairly obvious, sometimes couples may or may not explicitly express their views on money in terms of goals and the behaviour that is associated.

Look at things in the short, medium and long term. Do you want to travel, but your partner wants to save? What about things like home ownership, renovation and retirement? How are you managing your debt load, as a couple?

It is possible that even though you are sharing finances with your partner, you are not sharing the same goals.

If you haven’t done so already, set goals that you both can agree on. When trying to establish synchronicity, it helps to be traveling in the same direction.

Identify Money Behaviour

Are you a scrupulous budget-keeper, but your partner likes to spend money on eating out or retail purchases? Do you both live in the moment, spending willfully, yet are filled with confusion and regret when there is no money left every month? Do you scrape and save every penny, but somehow feel like you are missing out on the fun?

Money is an entity that involves behaviour and psychology. Misunderstanding of your own attitude, especially in how it positions against your partner’s, can lead to resentment and ultimately, a rift.

Division of Labour, Division of Funds

A common source of angst and resentment between spouses is the issue of control around money.

While in theory, everything is your household may be 50/50, is it really? Who is the breadwinner and who does the lion’s share of work with the kids and in maintaining the household? Does the division of labour and “control” of the money fall in line with who actually is bringing in the funds?

Remember, in this particular context, much of the work that is done to support a family is unpaid. An equal partnership (whatever form that takes) that bares equal responsibility and equal say in directing funds is important.

What makes sense for your family, in terms of goals, time and cash flow?

Be Fair and Be Responsible

When addressing money issues, rather than accusing your partner of money mismanagement, start the conversation by owning up to your own “money mistakes”. This turns a confrontation into a conversation that could lead to solutions.

Don’t be critical. Don’t call names. Don’t be righteous. Do get the data and facts organized, both in terms of what your current financial situation is, and where you’d like to be- and what you need to do to get there.

Take responsibility for your own part in achieving this goal, and suggest to your partner some steps and sacrifices that you’d be willing to take to get there.

Commit to Conversation.

One sure fire way to let an issue fester until it reaches a boiling point is to pretend like it doesn’t exist.

Now that you’ve taken steps to talking about money, goals and responsibility, it is crucial to your financial (and marital) success to keep talking- on a regular basis. Schedule a “date”, perhaps monthly, in which you discuss where you are at, assess your plan and tweak where necessary.