Making the Best with What You’ve Got

Finance PhotoOne of the top 3 reasons for friction in any relationship is financial issues.  Nearly 7 out of 10 couples report that money is a catalyst for disagreements between them. What do you do to prevent this and how do you get out of the middle of a difficult discussion about it?

In the early stages of a love relationship, many people are uncomfortable talking about financial matters.  They may be embarrassed by a past or present financial situation. They may have had an unpleasant experience with another partner and financial matters. Or they may be one of the majority of people who grew up in a household where money was something you didn’t discuss.

Like it or not, the key to getting around financial issues is to talk about it openly in the beginning of a new relationship.  Maybe not on the first couple of dates! When you both agree that this is turning into something that will continue, then the topic should be brought up.

It will be important for both of you to understand how each manages their money. Everyone is different and knowing how each of you views money can ease the tension.

There are people who horde money, rarely making luxury purchases or treating themselves. And there are others that spend every nickel they get. Who pays for what on a date? If you go to a concert or on a road trip together, how are the expenses shared? There are people who always want to be treated and others who always want to pay.

Age and experience with money in previous relationships will determine somewhat how this one relationship will go.  Discussing good, and not so good, experiences with money in the past can give people a clue as to how the person will manage their money should a similar situation arise.

These are all things that should be discussed early on, before something happens and you both sit down for a “money talk”.

If you’re in the middle of it, and are getting ready to have a “money talk”, then there are a few things to keep in mind.

Is this really about money? Sometimes, most often from our parents, we develop a sense of control, safety and self esteem around money. “I’m successful if I have a big bank account” and “Money is the root of all evil” are two separate yet powerful beliefs that can come from our upbringing. The conversation can quickly turn from money to how safe each of you feels with each other.

Pick a quiet time to talk about the money issue with each other. Money is an emotionally charged subject for many people. Don’t force a conversation after opening up the credit card statement and being shocked.  You’ll be more productive when you both are in your best behavior!

While you may not agree with how your partner views money, respect that it is how they have come to view money, for whatever reason.  Be curious but not judgmental. After all, they may not quite agree with your view! Once you both have had a chance to share your opinions, then you can go to work!

How do you both want to view money in your current relationship? You get to make the rules together. You can set some boundaries and guidelines and just try them out. Whatever doesn’t work, change it and try again. You don’t have to be stuck with old beliefs that frustrate you.   Set up some new rules for you and your partner to follow. After all, it’s your life to create!

Respect each others’ differences. Define some new rules about how you both will relate to money. And remember to talk about money early and whenever there is a conflict.  Don’t keep it a secret!

Money can be an insignificant or highly important part of your relationship. Don’t let it ruin things by letting issues accumulate. Be open and honest about money with each other, and it will never become an issue!

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