It may be easier if your styles of handling money are similar, but here, as with other characteristics, opposites attract. Ideally, couples should have a serious talk about their individual financial preferences before differences erupt. But in the era of romantic love (from the late nineteenth century on), we have felt that it somehow tarnished the purity of love to discuss it in the same context as money. As a result, the importance of money is generally ignored during courtship, yet it becomes a primary focus of contention during marriage.
In my years of counseling practice, the complaints I hear from married clients have changed little. A typical scenario might be: “My wife is an emotional spender. She’s not realistic about money.” “Money with him is a power struggle. My husband doesn’t hear me when I ask for things. He doesn’t know what it takes to run a family.” Some other classic mismatch combinations are: a serious money saver paired with a person who is admittedly ‘born to shop,’ a high roller/risk taker paired with a safety seeker afraid to take risks, and a materialistic status seeker paired with a bohemian. While these and other combinations all come with their own challenges and issues built in, there is hope.
WORKING THROUGH YOUR FINANCIAL DIFFERENCES
Be involved and invest in your relationship. It is one of your greatest assets in life. Understand your differences and plan around them. Take equal responsibility for managing your money so both of you are informed. For example, if one person routinely pays the bills, the other should file the paid invoices.
Respect each other’s differences instead of judging them. Look for patterns and issues that continually crop up and then look at what attitudes and feelings about money and what emotions are creating those behavioral patterns. Next, discuss ways to avoid falling into those patterns in the future. You might want to schedule a monthly “money talk” as a forum for these discussions. Remember that good financial communication works both ways – listening as well as talking. The price of not communicating is to proceed to the point where differences appear irreconcilable.
Watch for telltale signs of financial compatibility while courting. Deal with these issues when they present themselves. Don’t think it will get better when you are married or living together.
If you don’t deal with issues up front, your differences may get blown out of proportion. The key is to try to understand your partner’s feelings about money before lashing out in response. One of the most reliable ways to work with your partner is to take Moneymax®. It’s positive, eliminates emotions getting in the way, it’s fast and easy, non-threatening and objective. It shows potential problem areas to be discussed and considered, and reveals ways to manage money more harmoniously as a couple and ultimately in a way that will satisfy the needs of both partners.
In every couple, no matter what your income level is, there are daily decisions to be made about the allocation of money. Among low-income families, money is a constant source of irritation because of its short supply, but it may also be a chief irritant among the more affluent. A shortage of money is not usually the real problem in a money fight. The problem may be differences in attitudes, preexisting grievances, or any number of factors. According to the Family Service Association, of marriages ostensibly threatened by money arguments, only 6 percent of the couples were actually short of money. The most ferocious marital money conflicts occur when there are irreconcilable differences in money personalities, such as when a saver marries a spender.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Even if you haven’t met your ideal financial match, you can learn to diffuse the money conflicts in your relationship by discovering, understanding and working with your financial personalities. So turn your much ado about money into much ado about nothing.