There are many benefits to being in a relationship. You constantly have companionship, support and affection. Another pretty good bonus is that often being part of a couple can mean certain things only cost half the price they would usually, with rent, bills and the price of your car now shared with your significant other.
However, if your partner isn’t great with money or if it’s you that’s the root of the problem, then money can be the thorn in the side of your relationship, creating tension and stress. In fact, 62% of Brits named money worries as a threat to their relationship, with arguments about money one of the key predictors for divorce. The trick to avoiding this is learning how to discuss finances effectively with your partner so that you can work towards a brighter financial future together.
When you should do it
You can observe much of your partner’s attitudes towards spending money from how they react to normal expenses such as meals out or trips to the cinema etc. You can’t know for sure your partner’s attitudes to money until you know them pretty well, but do you want to stick it out only to be disappointed? As Dr Amy Wenzel says, ‘if you bring it up late in the relationship, you will know your partner better, which will allow you to choose a communication style that you know has been successful for addressing sensitive issues. You and your partner will likely have, by that time, established a relationship characterised by love and mutual respect, which will be assets in negotiating any differences of opinion that arise.’
On the other hand, if you bring it up early on in the relationship you will be more likely to determine whether you are compatible in this respect or not.
Preach honesty with your partner
This is your opportunity to lay your cards on the table and completely own up to any bad attitudes towards money you have or did have in the past. It’s important that your partner is made aware of these as soon as possible so that it doesn’t cause arguments in the future.
If, however, you’ve been covering up some problems with debt you have then you’re not alone. A study by Lansons found that 46% of Brits have unsecured debt. 17% of those both in a relationship and in debt have not told their partner. Make up for lost time and own up to your partner as this could be a source of tension in your relationship. By being completely honest, you can work together to resolve the problems with debt either of you may have.
Be clear about expenses
If you live with your partner, it’s expected that you’ll be splitting such things as rent, bills, and food. However, every relationship is different, and if you and your partner earn very different amounts of money, there are a few things you may have to compromise on. If, for example, you earn much more than your partner and would like to live somewhere more expensive you will need to discuss whether it’s fair for the rent to be split equally or whether there is a fairer way to split the costs.
Another crucial thing you should decide about is whether you will continue to pay any money you owe off yourself or if this is something you will now both be tackling. This obviously applies to your partner’s situation as well. If you intend to spend your lives together, consolidating debts you have is a good thing to work towards. However, it may seem unfair that you or your partner should have to pay for a mistake you didn’t make, or perhaps you would prefer to be more independent in your approach to your individual finances.
Whatever you decide it’s important to discuss every aspect of your finances to make sure you’re on the same page. However at no point should this turn into an argument; if anything this should be treated as a no-conflict space in which you are both clear about what issues you have with money. If you’re stuck for what to ask then consider simply talking about your own approach to money. This can include what debts you may have and what goals you would like to move towards. It should help your partner to open up and talk about their own opinions and experience of dealing with finances. After you’ve finished speaking – with no arguing – celebrate! You’ve reached a relationship milestone and taken a crucial step towards a happy partnership.
How did you get on when you spoke to your partner about finances?