Did you know that stress over finances is one of the leading causes for spiking levels of anxiety and depression and other serious mental health issues? Inflation is wreaking havoc on our finances—and probably putting stress on your relationship. It’s one of the top issues couples argue about.
At CoupleWise we are a needs-based relationship building program. Meaning we focus on identifying and showing you how to meet the most important needs you and your partner have so you can both be happy.
And we’re pretty good at it. Using the research of our world-renowned relationship authorities— they’ve interviewed over 75,000 couples on every continent!—we identified the 24 relationship needs that are always present in the longest lasting, happy relationships.
Anyway, let’s follow the money: Money and your finances are not just personal, how you react to them alone and together is all about psychology and even family patterns. How you think about money is probably how your parents thought about money, but it’s also about feeling safe or capable, how you perceive respect at home or at work, how you feel trusted and appreciated, and on and on.
In short, money affects nearly everything in relationships. That’s one of the primary reasons you need to address it in yours—the earlier the better. Here’s how you do that, without fighting.
1. CONSIDER HOW YOU BOTH FEEL ABOUT MONEY
First, if you’ve never done it, it’s a good idea to take a step back and think about how you both view spending, saving, and handling your finances. Some people simply hate the task of sitting down with their bills. And most everyone has a different perspective on spending and saving styles.
One might be more of a spender. The other, a cautious saver. Maybe you feel safer when you save a certain percentage of your paycheck each month. Some people don’t want to think about money at all. Whatever the case, you’re in this together so start by getting a clear understanding of how you both feel about money and the issues surrounding it.
At CoupleWise we talk often about empathic listening—you should be using this process in all conversations. However, this is the time to really master it.
The (simplified) empathic listening process:
Completely stop doing whatever you’re doing. Give your partner your undivided attention.
Listen without thinking about your response.
Do not interrupt! Let your partner complete what they’re saying BEFORE you respond.
Take a deep breath—take a beat before you start talking.
Make sure you understand what they just said by stating back to them their position and ask if you understand them correctly.
Be respectful with your words. Do not put your partner down. Do not diminish their opinion or position. Your goal is to understand their position.
Here are some questions you can ask to get the conversation moving:
- Who makes the decisions when it comes to money? Are you both happy with that approach?
- Whose dreams are being fulfilled with your shared financial resources?
- Who makes the most money in the relationship? How do you both feel about that?
- What is your sense of financial responsibility to the relationship?
- Do either of you have a sense of financial insecurity? What steps can be taken to alleviate it?
- Do things feel one-sided to either of you?
- What is your preference on the way your finances should be managed?
Talking about money is usually a pretty uncomfortable but necessary step in your relationship. It’s critical to the foundational needs each of you has in order to build a happy, long-lasting relationship. So, please… don’t avoid it!
2. CREATE A ROADMAP ON HOW YOU’LL HANDLE MONEY
John Terry is one of our trusted advisors. He’s been a financial planner for over 30 years and he’s also a best-selling author and leadership expert.
“85% of Americans are one paycheck away from the “poor house” and of the marriages that end in divorce, money woes are cited by over 65% as one of the primary reasons. Perhaps we should ALL take a more serious look at the role of money in our lives.” John Terry, The Black Belt Leader
In case you’d like to do a deep dive into all aspects of finance, click here for a link to John Terry’s Money Mastery course (we make no money on referrals)
Or, you can do a search and find many free resources like this How To Create a Budget article.
- Many people feel that they should report every expense. Remove this pressure by creating scenarios that don’t require you reporting every penny you spend.
- Within your budget, create individual funds for each of you every month. That’s a set amount of money each of you can spend without having to check in all the time. Decide on a cutoff amount, and if an expense is above that amount, you’ll touch base. Otherwise, you can each do what you like with this money.
3. MAKE A PLAN FOR YOUR MONEY IN ADVANCE.
Making decisions for your money in advance will save you both time and grief as a couple. When you already know where your money is going and how you’re going to handle it, you can reduce arguments in the moment. Here are some ways you can get started:
- Set up a monthly budget
- Automate your savings deposits and bill payments
- Set aside spending money for each of you
- Plan how you want to handle money conflict next time it arises
When you have a strategy for handling high-stress issues in your marriage, you’re more likely to succeed together. Money is no exception to that rule.
SETTLE ON YOUR APROACH AND DEEPEN YOUR CONNECTION.
Do you know what you really need to be happy in (and out of) your relationship? Do you want to find out? Then you (and your partner) should complete our CLARIFY MY NEEDS assessment! Find out what the 24 needs you each have in your relationship are—like finances, communication, resolving conflict, sexual fulfillment, sharing common goals, and more—and how to meet them. It gives you a personalized road map to making your relationship everything it was meant to be. Learn more by clicking here.
Do you and your partner often argue about money? If you’ve resolved any of that conflict, leave a comment and let us all know how you did it.