Surprising Ways Spouses and Partners View Money Differently
February is the month to celebrate Valentine’s Day, love and relationships. What could disturb our romantic feelings? Money is often a trigger for conflict in relationships. Some of us didn’t grow up learning about money in school or in our homes. This often leads to widely differing opinions on saving, spending, and planning. Therefore, learning how to communicate about money is essential for a healthy relationship with your partner.
Larry Burkett, a noted financial author, said, “Money is either the best or the worst means of communication in our marriages.” We have seen that arguments over money are a major cause of conflict in households and can often lead to a breakdown in relationships. So, if you had these conflicts, it’s normal! This is an opportunity to improve your relationship by working together, allowing both parties to feel understood and agree on financial goals. If money has been a source of argument in a relationship, it’s easy to completely ignore the topic all together. However, this does not help couples build financial peace and independence.
Let’s discuss how each spouse or partner may view money differently and some simple ways to build momentum with your finances. The goal is to strengthen your relationship.
Everyone sees money differently and that’s largely because we each deal with problems and opportunities from different perspectives – that’s a good thing! A partner may feel like they can take more risk with their investments and may not like saving for emergencies. They could use the money as a dashboard. When faced with financial difficulties, it often affects their self-esteem. The other partner may view money as a security issue and tend to be conservative in their investments. This person is often more cautious and wants to save for a rainy day. Relationship problems arise when one person is unaware of the other’s input or one person is unwilling to participate in financial transactions at all. These problems do not arise when the partners use their different perspectives to prepare an agreed plan that has the potential to be stronger and more effective than either person could achieve individually.
Marriage is a partnership. Both parties must be involved in the finances. As you work together on your plan, you will most likely see the power of being in agreement with each other when it comes to your financial goals. Conversations with your partner about money should start long before problems arise. When your checking account is overdrawn or when you have a financial emergency, it’s not the best time to start these conversations.
Instead, it can help to be proactive in planning a financial date with your partner. It may be helpful to start by reviewing your two money stories. A money story is the past experiences you have had with money and how those experiences have shaped you, whether good or bad. Our current behaviors, fears, and goals stem from this money mindset, which is often established at a young age.
Here are some questions to ask on your date: What is your earliest memory of money? What did you learn in your childhood about money? Are you afraid of running out of money? When we can share and discuss these experiences with our partner, it brings awareness, perspective, and often empathy for one another. These conversations about money should be an ongoing and open dialogue. Having regular financial dates with your partner can help establish a financial plan and create systems to harness the power of each other’s strengths. It can help you reach your financial goals together!
Don’t go it alone if you need help. In our industry, we find ourselves not only providing financial and investment advice, but also facilitating essential conversations between partners. A qualified financial advisor or coach can help facilitate conversations with your partner if there is an impasse moving forward. We’ve found that a third party can help you ask the right questions and build momentum on your way to your short- and long-term financial goals.
By having these essential conversations, all of your Februarys can now be about love and relationships. So put your financial date on the calendar now!
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