It is hard to gauge exactly how much of a factor arguing about money contributes to relationship breakdown, but along with sex, it is pretty high on the list. Lack of trust and communication are at the heart of both issues.
As a money mentor, I frequently meet couples that just don’t talk about money. I was catching up with a girlfriend over a coffee and happened to mention this to her and she was quite surprised. “Bill and I talk about money all the time.”
There was a few seconds silence (while taking a bite of her scone) then she said, “no you’re right, we don’t talk about money, we yell at each other about money.”
Why is this? Well sometimes the arguments are really about money, but money arguments can also mask other issues within the relationship. This is because we attach emotions and meanings to money that really has nothing to do with 1+1=2.
So if you are yelling at each other about money, listen very carefully for any underlying issues.
There are many assumptions around our roles in the relationship that quite often can remain buried until something happens. Whether you’ve lost your job, or won the lottery, it will all come bubbling up to the surface. It may seem the argument is about money but it may well be about who ‘wears the pants’ in the relationship, trust or lack of it and all the other emotions that are part of being in a relationship.
We also bring our own personal beliefs about money into our relationships. Maybe you are a spender and believe that debt is fine and it doesn’t matter if you don’t pay the credit card bill off each month. After all money is there to be enjoyed! On the other hand, your partner may be thrifty and believe that money is to be saved and not frittered away on ‘stuff’. If you don’t have the money in the bank, you don’t spend.
“How do you resolve these differences so you can live in harmony (like our two pets above)?”
A bit of common sense, really; talk about it!! If you haven’t discussed these two completely different views about money and found some middle ground that you can both work with, you will most likely have conflict.
The best way to stop fighting about money take the time to have the ‘money conversation’. Decide who is going to run the household finances. How are you going to structure your income (joint or separate bank accounts)? What are your financial goals and how are you going to achieve them?
By the way, the money fights between my girlfriend and her partner had nothing to do with money, she wanted more attention from him.
Another by-the-way: this Relationship we talk about here doesn’t have to be your life Partner, it can also be your business partner. If you haven’t had the ‘money conversation’ here, the consequences can be financially crippling.