“You are screwing with my life!” is not the best way to start any conversation, let alone one about money with your partner.
Unfortunately, that is how a lot of conversations between partners end up, if one is feeling frustrated and angry at the lack of communication about money in the relationship.
“I thought I was doing the right thing by supporting my wife and family so she didn’t have to go to work” is what one husband said after his marriage of 25 years ended.
It turns out, that wasn’t what his wife wanted. She wanted to be more self-sufficient and financially independent within the relationship, but neither of them knew how to talk about what they wanted or what the other thought, until it was too late.
“I had no idea what was going on with our finances. I thought we were doing OK, there were no boundaries around my spending, he never told me if I was spending too much.” This from a wife whose husband ended the relationship and through the process of splitting their assets, finds out things weren’t as rosy as she thought.
Money arguments are debilitating!
Stress and arguing over money in the relationship is a bad sign, but it worsens if you never discuss it at all. Sadly, many of us have inherited money habits or behaviours that weaken our own financial security and our closest relationships.
And still this happens in a lot of relationships because many of us were raised in homes where money was a taboo subject.
Various surveys tell us that between 50-85% of couples separate as a result of the stress and fighting created by money. So, if you’re not talking about it, there’s a good chance that one of you is stressed about the family finance.
For the record, the two top financial reasons couples separated are, overspending (spending more than you earn) and financial infidelity (secret spending).
Stories like these are commonplace in the work we do with clients who are going through a separation. The key theme: lack of communication and assuming everything is OK.
How can you be financially independent and be in a relationship?
Fundamentally, both of you do need some independence (big subject here and now is not the place to expand on this further). Once this is agreed, it will be easier to determine how each of you can have some financial independence within the relationship.
An important starting point is to know your numbers and then start talking about them.
“Wow, this is so empowering, I am really starting to understand what is going on.” This from a wife wanting to take more responsibility for the household finances. She was tired of arguing about money and being told she is spending too much, when she didn’t know the numbers.
So, if you don’t want someone else screwing with your life, it is time to step up and take responsibility, have the tough conversations before it gets to the point where you are packing your bags and leaving.
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