Healthy Ways To Handle Money Issues In Your Relationship

Updated August 15, 2023by Regain Editorial Team
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Does Money Lead To Conflicts In Your Relationship?

Money can create numerous problems in a relationship, whether you’re dating or married. Differences in opinion about financial matters can lead to conflicts and deep fractures in the bond between partners if they are left unaddressed. Read on to explore healthy ways to discuss money in a relationship, the financial issues you should consider when joining your life with someone else’s, and how therapy can support you both by teaching practical ways to express your needs and reshape harmful behavior. 

How Do Money Issues Affect Relationships?

If one partner likes to spend lavishly while the other prefers to save, they may face conflicts in the future. When one person in a long-term relationship is responsible with their finances, they may be distressed to learn their partner has significant debt and unsustainable spending habits. When couples don’t discuss money matters in a relationship, they may encounter unpleasant surprises and face psychological impacts in the future. An inability to share and solve money difficulties may indicate underlying troubles in the bond between partners. 

According to a 2022 survey:

  • 65% of American adults said money is a source of stress. 
  • Money is a significant source of conflict in 55% of American households. 
  • 87% of the adults responding to the survey said inflation was a major stressor. 

Stress in America, American Psychological Association

Emotional Strain

It may cause emotional strain to the intimacy and connection you share if you express concerns about your partner’s financial habits and they refuse to listen or agree to make changes and continue the same tendencies. As with many aspects of a healthy relationship, communication is a crucial factor. 

Irresponsibility Could Lead To Unpaid Bills

If you count on your partner to pay a bill and they spend the money on something else, you may be left sitting in the dark with an unpaid electric bill or facing an empty cupboard with no budget for groceries. This behavior may lead to trust issues if your partner proves unreliable multiple times. 

Living Beyond Your Means

Some people want to appear as if they are more financially well off than they are, leading them to live beyond their means. If a fiscally-responsible person gets into a relationship with someone who always needs to have nice, new things, it would be reasonable to expect problems in the future once they join their finances without a plan in place. 

Unwise Financial Decisions

Many people find someone and fall in love without ever thinking about discussing their financial pasts before becoming engaged. It can be a shock to learn your partner has a mountain of debt after unwise financial decisions when they were younger. Existing debt can affect both partners in a marriage, and you should be prepared to honestly discuss what you bring—positively and negatively—to the union.  

Tips For Addressing Money Issues While Dating

  • Someone who makes significantly more than their partner may be concerned their wealth is the primary draw and want to conceal how much money they have, but no one should lie about it. While this can be acceptable early in a relationship while still learning who a person is, the longer the deception continues, the harder it will be to explain. By the time you know you want to date them exclusively, you should feel comfortable divulging approximately how much you make. 

Getty

  • Don’t date someone for their money or the things they can provide for you. Beyond the negative connotations, it can lead to an imbalance of financial power in the future and leave you entirely dependent on them. 
  • Don’t plan dates that are beyond your means. Going out for a fast food dinner and a moonlit walk can be as romantic as a three-course meal if the connection and communication exist. 
  • Some people feel strongly about who should pay for a date. While opinions differ, you should plan to pay for yourself and anyone you invite on a date. If they want to help pay, you can talk about it. If you feel strongly about it, offer to let them cover the next date.

Aspects Of Planning Long-Term Financial Matters Together

If you’ve been with your partner for a while and the two of you are talking about engagement, marriage, or otherwise joining your lives together for the long term, consider these aspects of merging your finances with your partner and your ongoing mutual financial management

Discuss Your Financial Plans

If you have specific financial plans and goals, you should share those with your partner. You won’t be working toward your achievements alone anymore, so understanding what you both want in the future can be vital to your relationship’s success. 

Share Your Career Plans

Career ambitions and plans can greatly affect your partner’s life. For example, doctors and lawyers can expect to put in years of long weeks with grueling hours and relatively low pay compared to what they’ll earn later in their careers. Discuss your long-term ambitions and ensure those goals align to save yourselves significant trouble later. 

Make Plans For Saving And Spending

For many couples, habits for saving and spending can be a source of contention. Work together to find a healthy balance that meets both your needs while providing enough leeway in either direction that neither of you feels confined or ignored. Compromise and communication will help you navigate the path ahead together. 

Don’t Hide Debts From Your Partner

While you may be ashamed of your personal debt, hiding it from your partner will only lead to conflict and possibly trust issues. If you plan to marry someone, they deserve to know the truth about your debt, whether it’s credit cards, student loans, or something else. Your financial history will affect them too, and the sooner they know about problems, the sooner you can develop solutions together. 

Develop A Realistic Vacation Fund

Vacations are an important part of life for many people, allowing them to recharge their mental and emotional batteries and return to their everyday lives revitalized. However, many budgets don't allow for lavish getaways—or any getaways. Discuss your expectations and plans for a vacation fund and how you propose to save the necessary money for the trip.  

Monitor Your Credit Score

Your credit scores will substantially influence the amount and quality of the loans you qualify for, so monitoring your scores and managing your debt can be crucial to your financial success. If you eventually plan to purchase a new car or a home together, your effort will be harmed by low credit scores, negative or insufficient credit history, and the percentage of credit you use. 

“First, credit scores are positively correlated with the likelihood of forming a committed relationship and its subsequent stability. Second, partners positively sort into committed relationships along the credit score dimension even after controlling for other similarities between partners. Third, a positive correlation notwithstanding, within-couple differences in credit scores are apparent at the start of relationships.” — Credit Scores and Committed Relationships

Getty/AnnaStills
Does Money Lead To Conflicts In Your Relationship?

Discuss House Buying Options And Goals

Talking about the type of house you’d like to buy together in the future—and how far away that future might be—can help you establish healthy goals and milestones to work toward together.   

Balance Living Expenses

If you are moving in with your partner, discussing how to balance living expenses can be a good idea. Is your partner expecting a 50/50 split, or will you each cover specific bills? Talk to your partner and budget all your combined expenses and income so you both feel the final outcome is fair and balanced. 

Manage Joint Accounts

Joining your bank accounts isn’t always the best choice for every relationship, particularly if you aren’t married yet. However, as the relationship gets more serious, you should consider what merging your financial futures looks like and how you both feel about shared access to combined funds

Plan For Children And Their Futures

You should discuss whether you want children together if you're getting married. If you both want to have children, you may want to decide how you'll prepare for their futures. Raising children can be an expensive but rewarding experience, and you should consider how you will provide for any potential children. 

How Therapy Can Help You Navigate Money Issues As A Couple

Many couples have trouble navigating financial issues together. Consider working with a licensed couples therapist online through a virtual therapy platform focused on relationship problems like Regain. Therapy can teach you healthy ways to communicate with each other, understand and validate your partner’s feelings, and develop productive, practical conflict resolution methods to work through troubles together. 

The past few years have ignited massive interest in remote therapy options, and researchers at the American Psychological Association conducted studies showing no substantial difference in online and face-to-face therapy outcomes. The research also showed that couples therapy reduced symptoms related to depression, stress, and anxiety, and increased relationship satisfaction, providing comparable results online and in person

Takeaway 

Learning how to deal with money issues in a relationship can cause problems with your partner, but it also provides an opportunity to learn how to work through problems together. The information in this article offers insight into the issues money can cause in a relationship, aspects of long-term financial merging with your partner, and how therapy can support couples to navigate money-related obstacles in healthy, productive ways.

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