Couples are 10 times more likely to break up if they think their partner has poor money habits. This finding in a recent survey by Policy Genius probably echoes the harsh reality that money issues are a driving force in 55.6% of divorces.
It’s crucial to play open cards with your partner if you want to keep your relationship ship-shape. Even if your finances are totally separate, it is best to be on the same page and have shared goals you are working towards. Money can’t buy happiness but being open about it can ‘earn’ you a healthier partnership.
In fact, couples who are open to talking about their finances often find it easier to reach long-term goals such as saving for a home or holiday. Be clear on what you are saving for – a rainy day, education, a holiday, house deposit, etc. and agree and/ or get help on how much you will need to put aside. Then decide how each of you can contribute towards your savings goals.
Despite the intimacy couples have on other levels, they are often very awkward and uncomfortable when it comes to discussing what they each earn – plus their debts and assets – and how they plan to go forward together financially.
Below, are some tips from Life and Relationships coach Leah Sefor on what couples should discuss during intimate conversations to unpack their financial priorities, goals, expenses, and spending.
Uncover your money story with your partner
Sharing your money story can be extremely insightful. It can lead to an understanding of entrenched childhood belief systems around money and could change the way you react to each other around undesirable money behaviours.
Healthy relationships are about supporting your partner with their life visions. Prioritise making clear financial plans and a budget together so both your goals can be met. Discuss income and expenses and come up with a plan you are both comfortable with for how you will manage finances together. This helps with money talk.
Come clean about debt
You have to let your partner know what your debt situation looks like early into a long-term relationship because it is going to impact them down the road. It is important to understand that there is often embarrassment and shame around opening up about debt, especially to your significant other. So, getting angry with the person who has the debt is not conducive to creating a safe space for honest conversations to happen. Be constructive in these discussions, not destructive with finger pointing and attacks.
Know your worth
The most common money issue that often occurs in relationships is when one partner earns more and is the primary breadwinner and the other either earns significantly less or is unemployed. The most important perspective to shift with this is to know that your worth in a relationship is not determined by how much money you earn. Money is only one way of contributing value to a relationship. Partners who do not work still bring a huge amount of value and worth into the relationship by managing the home, the household shopping, the kids, the social arrangements and organising your lives.
Appoint a family CFO
Whoever is better at handling money should be the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the relationship. This isn’t a competition! We are all good at different things. There is a difference between controlling the money and managing the money. The CFO’s job is to manage the money, not control it by excluding their partner from decisions or becoming a dictator.
Your lifestyle aspirations and the dreams you have as a couple will be best achieved when you are aligned on where you are heading financially. When you are transparent with your partner about what you are working towards, working together to achieve those goals will be even more rewarding.