Maintaining a healthy relationship with your partner requires enough effort as it is; the last thing you need is another complication. Money matters aren’t necessarily a sticky subject for every couple, but financial affairs do often grow contentious between members of a loving couple. If a financial issue has risen to the top, or you simply need to clarify a few financial details, it may be time to have a heart to heart with your partner.
No one looks forward to heavy personal interactions about sensitive subjects such as money. However, left without adequate attention, your household finances are vulnerable to inconsistencies that could leave you in financial distress. A preemptive talk with your partner may be all that’s needed to head-off difficulties and keep your mutual financial interests on track.
Changing Preferences May Spell the End for Joint Finances
There are no hardfast rules governing how couples must handle their finances. Many pairs find a way to work things out, without taking formal steps to reach consensus. One partner may simply defer to the other person, leaving money matters to the other half. In one traditional paradigm, women did exactly that, allowing men to manage the books at home. Recent research suggests sentiments are shifting; more and more women prefer to manage their money independently.
Not surprisingly, young women from the 16-34 age bracket are more likely than older women to keep their finances separate from their partners. Among the possible explanations for the phenomenon:
- Women are getting married later in life than they once did.
- Higher divorce rates may influence women to remain more autonomous – even in committed relationships.
- Working women are drawing higher salaries than they did in the past, making it more appealing to manage their own wealth.
Whether you’re a traditionalist, content to delegate household financial responsibilities, or a progressive earner, preferring to tend to your own finances; communication is essential, protecting your relationship from financial distress.
Make a Date
There’s never really a “good” time to talk about money, so you may have to just jump in and hash things out. Unfortunately, hectic lifestyles and demanding schedules can interfere with money talks. If you’re having a hard time broaching the subject, setting a date for financial discourse may be more effective than waiting around for a face-to-face discussion to occur organically.
Once you’ve broken the ice, consider scheduling regular time with your partner, taking financial inventory and addressing whatever issues arise between meetings. If you need a loan until payday or you’re exploring financing for a major purchase, you can use the time together to research lending options with your partner. And if you’ve made missteps managing money, your regularly scheduled financial meet-up provides a good opportunity to reveal where you went wrong.
Spell It Out
You can’t overstate the value of open and honest financial communication between partners, but there’s more to financial harmony than simply clearing the air. In addition to candid conversations about money, couples should also take action, outlining each person’s responsibility in the financial partnership. Articulating expectations in this way avoids ambiguity, which can sour the relationship, as well as its financial health.
Share Financial Goals
Even if your finances are kept separate, you and your partner share a financial path. Rather than drawing a line in the sand, try creating mutual financial goals. The exercise helps forge a united financial front, strengthening the bonds that bind your finances. Establishing joint financial goals also reinforces accountability between partners, as each member of the team contributes to a shared financial vision.
Your success managing finance issues with your partner impacts other aspects of your relationship. Healthy finances support overall household harmony, so money matters can literally make or break your union. Frank, open communication and mutual financial objectives can help you stay strong, working out the financial issues couples face.