Most of us have heard or experienced that fights about money is one of the biggest difficulties facing couples. In this newsletter I will outline some important rules for handling money in your relationship. Often times the arguments are not about money but about power. He/She who makes the money has the power. This idea can lead to many an argument in marriages getting couples into deep power struggles.
The first rule is to approach the issue of money as a team. Your communication with each other about how to to handle money issues is of utmost importance. Each discussion should be handled with mutual respect. Each of us has different ideas about how money should be handled, and we all value money differently. Dicuss with each other your values and ideas about money. For example, some might view money as secondary to happiness while some might view it as a means to be happy. It is not to be argued who is right or wrong, it is a difference that is to be managed. Another big difference among couples is one is an impulsive spender while the other is a frugal saver, I will discuss how to manage these differences below.
The next major rule is equality. No matter who makes the money, you both should have an equal say in how money is spent. A marriage is, among other things, a partnership. You will alienate your partner and damage the relationship if you do not follow this rule. Some experts recommend having separate bank accounts. I have no problem with this. It is a good idea to build your own credit and have your own savings account, but if you are hiding money from your partner, you have greater problems than what is being discussed here and you may want to seek counseling.
I advise couples to agree on a spending limit, for example $50. Anything over that amont needs to be discussed with each other before purchasing. This is a great way to curb impulsiveness. It is not about asking your partner for permission, it is about collaberating together as partners for your financial future. For example, you wouldn’t make a big business decision without first discussing it with your business partner. So why would you do it in your marriage?
The last main point in dealing with financial issues is to assess each others strengths and weakness. Use strengths to balance each other as a team and be aware of weaknesses to hold each other accountable. For example; the couple I described above, one being frugal and the other an impulsive spend-thrift. The frugal one will make sure money is saved and bills are paid while the impulsive one will make sure that we as a couple are enjoying life in the present keeping the spontaneity and fun in the relationship. Both are equally important, so it is through recognizing these strengths that you can balance each other. But as stated above, you can only balance each other if you each have an equal voice. One of you might be better at balancing the budget while the other might have greater understanding of investments. Use each others strengths to the advantage of your relationship.
The umbrella to which all these rules fall under is trust. In order to be able to successfully negotiate money issues in your relationship, you must trust one another. Again, if this is a probem in your relationship, you may want to seek further assistance in learning how to trust and communicate effectively with one another.