It might not come as a surprise to you that, according to a recent study by the legal firm Slater and Gordon, money worries are the biggest reason married couples split up.
In fact, the survey revealed that 23% of couples had argued with their partner about money in the last fortnight.
A lot of people find it uncomfortable discussing and being open about the financial aspects of their relationship and this can often heighten disagreements, resentment and discontentment.
However, there are strategies you can adopt to ensure you don’t fall into that rut and join the quarter of couples who argue about money regularly.
Read on for our top tips on how to prevent money being a problem in your relationship.
A lot of the negativity around money in relationships comes from a lack of understanding – not only of your partner’s financial behaviour but also the reasons behind your own.
For example, take a couple who have been happily married for decades, sharing everything they earn and spend.
However, resentment creeps in as, following an inheritance, one partner decides to keep money aside for their children to inherit – a behaviour they inherited from their own parents – leaving the other feeling left out and confused.
Following relationship counselling, they both came to realise that their communication should have been better to ensure that they understand each other.
What’s vital as part of your communication regarding money is to ensure it doesn’t get heated. Treat it like a business meeting – would you get angry, personal, and confrontational with your boss? Probably not, so adopt the same behaviour when discussing money with your partner.
If you struggle with this control, you may need a third person to mediate the discussions. A relationship counsellor would be the perfect person for this, as they’re able to draw from their bank of unbiased skills to draw out feelings and reasoning without highly emotive responses.
Understand your differences
Each of us is different. And this rings true with our attitudes and habits when it comes to spending and saving – it’s unlikely you and your partner have an identical approach to money, and that’s ok.
Do you find yourself saving regularly but your partner spends every last penny of their wages (or vice versa)? Completely normal.
Most of our behaviours have been ingrained over the years, and so it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to completely change it. However, it’s crucial that you and your partner have an honest conversation about your relationship with money and come to a compromise about how your going to handle the household finances in a way that suits both of your personalities.
What is important here is that you understand and accept your differences without judgement. Talk about how your financial behaviour has evolved over the years: did your parents deduct part of your wages from your first Saturday job to teach you the value of money? Did you previously fall into debt and are still paying the price?
These types of things will impact on how your spending habits evolve, so take it all into account. You might never have even considered your relationship to money before, so it’s important to keep an open mind.
Work as a team
We often find that one partner is a lot more active in managing the household cash flow than the other and that’s fine, as long as the other is not completely removed from responsibilities.
For example, consider a couple that consists of one partner who dedicates time to budget on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis, well into both of their futures, while the other simply spends what they’re given.
Firstly, that’s a lot of responsibility to put on one person’s shoulders, and a lot of pressure too – what if things go wrong? It all comes back to their actions, and that’s a lot to worry about.
It also becomes a mothering behaviour, with one partner technically looking after the other. This can quickly lead to resentment.
Instead, take part in regular discussions about money, talking through your financial situation and agreeing to short- and long-term financial goals.
Make a point of celebrating your successes, whether you’ve hit a savings target, reduced your spending this month, or organised your direct debits. It’s important to see that you’re succeeding as a team and you’re both in this together.
Get help if you need it
With money being the top cause of relationship problems, it’s no surprise that money troubles can affect our mental wellbeing.
Mind’s illustration of the detrimental cycle caused by money worries may well ring true with how you’re feeling:
Poor mental health relating to finances can appear in many forms:
- Anxiety and depression, with excessive worrying
- Avoidance behaviour, refusing to open bills or accept there are problems
- Withdrawing from friends, family, social activities and even work, leading to more worry relating to pay or job security
- Spending more to make yourself feel better, but ultimately making the situation worse
- Making impulsive decisions, especially during periods of low moods or mania
As concerning as this seems, it can be overcome by addressing the root cause – your financial worries and how you and your partner deal with them together.
Help can come in various shapes and sizes, from citizen’s advice, debt management solutions, and a relationship counsellor – whichever suits your situation, get help before it damages both your mental health and your finances permanently.
So, there you have it: four tips to overcome money worries in your relationship and navigate the biggest issue most couples face.
If you need help discussing finances openly in your relationship, or even individually if you’re worried about your own behaviour, we have a team of specialists waiting to help.
Contact us today or ring us on 0191 4661314 to find out how we can help.