“Money, Money, Money – Must Be Funny”
Couples are quite easily able to sabotage a loving relationship with passive aggressive ways to hurt one another about money in all its attendant blessings as well as problems. I’m the saver he’s the spender, I grew up poor, she grew up rich, and so on. Believe it or not money and sex are the two main issues causing couples to divorce.
While The Beatles were right, and money can’t buy you love, scientific research tells us that arguing about money, and financial infidelity are extremely harmful to a marriage. Couples who argue about money, despite the extent of their net worth, are much more at risk for divorce. This is one of the major predictors for divorce for both men and women.
Matters of the bank balance are just as important as matters of the heart, when it comes down to being in agreement, and being truly honest with one another. Committing to a spouse or partner often assists in reaching financial stability, so stay open to new ways to listen to one another, negotiate, and be playful. Actively create the intention to build a strong and loving relationship by having the “money talk”.
Having this talk is often daunting, but also very necessary. The conversation needs to be productive as opposed to indulging in financial abuse. It is time to get on the same page and stay there by communicating, no matter how sticky the subject makes you feel. Conversations should be about goals, values and priorities for a planned future together, rather than a lecture on financial flowcharts.
Heart-to-heart conversations are always important for life partners, and speaking about money matters should also be heart-to-heart. Ownership should be shared in financial matters as well as retirement planning. There are many logical ways to share responsibilities, for example one partner takes care of savings and investment, and the other takes care of the bills. Of course this is always undertaken in a completely transparent, consultative manner.
Shared ownership is easily established by setting a baseline expense amount. This could be $50, $100, $200 or more, depending on what makes both partners feel comfortable. This amount is the agreed amount that can be spent without first having a financial discussion. Make a commitment to a long-term saving plan, and commit to long term as well as short term goals.
Once the talk has taken place, the subject of money becomes more comfortable to discuss. If ground rules are set, both partners will feel more satisfied as well as secure. Ask specific questions in order to establish the rules of engagement; questions such as how you would like to retire, and what you want to accomplish in the meantime. You might like to write down individual items, and number these in order of priority. Items such as travel, home ownership, having children and so on. This can assist in planning a financial “bigger picture”.
Open and honest dialogue regarding budget, cash management, debt, insurance, emergency funds and so on is as important for young couples as it is for people approaching retirement. Conversations on these subjects should never be avoided. Keep the subject factual as well as fun to determine what is important in this life you are sharing, and don’t forget to celebrate when milestones are reached together.