How to talk to your partner about money

Finances in Relationships | Mind Up Psychology

Does the topic of money cause tension and friction in your relationship?

You’re not alone.

Did you know that money and financial security (or insecurity) is one of the leading causes of arguments for couples and families?

Opening up the conversation or commenting on spending habits or financial goals can feel like a tug of war or a sinking ship.

For some, the conversations about money can lead to separation and divorce.

Here are 3 common problems couples have identified when talking about money

We are not financially compatible

One person may like to enjoy the good things in life, while the other would rather save for the future. They are both frustrated at each other as one feels judged for spending and the other is fearful of financial insecurity. This happens due to the different attitudes the two have about money. If they continue simply arguing about who was right, whoever loses the argument will continue to feel resentful and trapped in the way money is spent.

I don’t feel my partner is contributing enough

Some couples feel frustrated at their partner for not contributing enough to the joint account while they appear to be happy to spend. Perhaps you are resentful that you are now needing to spend money on things you never used to because of your partner. This can create strife over time. There are many reasons why one person may be contributing less. They may not be in a profession that earns as much money but enjoys their job. They may choose to work part-time to have more time for study, or caring for their children or other family members. They may be contributing in other ways that don’t translate into dollars.

We can’t agree on big financial decisions

You might agree on spending on most things, but have big disagreements about major financial decisions, such as buying a property, when and where to buy, whether or not to send the kids to private school, and etc.

There are few simple tips to help you talk about your finances, but there are times when financial problems are more serious.

How to talk to your spouse about money without fighting

Better Ways to Talk about Money

Have the talk early on, be open and transparent. I know many people feel uncomfortable talking about money, but it is a very important conversation as financial decisions impact the whole family. Hear each other out, be open to learning from each other. In order to resolve any conflict, you need all parties to have plenty of opportunities to argue their case. Some active listening skills can be useful here. Active listening is giving your full attention to the speaker, and reflecting back to them what you have heard so that they feel truly heard. Instead of waiting your turn to talk and argue your case, give them plenty of time to say what they need to say. Don’t interrupt them or think about how you will respond. 

Set financial goals together

You might disagree on many things, but set some fun goals together. Perhaps open a separate savings account and commit to saving for a common goal. Be specific about the goal and how you will work towards it. You will grow closer and stronger as a couple working towards a common goal.

Be fair to stay at home partners and primary carers

When thinking about equal contribution, don’t think only in terms of nominal value. The value of twenty dollars is not the same to somebody who makes $100 thousand versus somebody who is making $40 thousand dollars a year. We all have different gifts and talents and bring different things into the relationship that cannot be calculated into money. Some people will choose to stay home to keep the home nice, cook nutritious meals for the family and look after young ones. A stay-at-home mum is usually doing enough work of 2-3 full-time jobs. In a family unit, the breadwinner is not the master of all the money as that could create a power imbalance that leads to financial abuse.

Financial abuse is a form of domestic violence that takes the form of one person restricting the other from being involved with everyday household expenses, how they spend their own money, not giving access to funds, or taking out debt in your name without consent. 

Not being able to agree on important financial decisions can be very challenging to relationships. If you are having trouble discussing these issues, have a trusted person to mediate for you or seek professional support to help you discuss these very important issues.