“You need to tackle financial issues with your significant other before a crisis occurs”
By: Allan R Kirby
“Money is a bigger source of tension than sex for 68% of Americans: source Learnvest"
Like all good writers I decided to do a little digging on finances and relationships. To my
surprise, I found several articles that highlighted the reason why you should avoid discussing
financial issues while in a relationship. I am not one who aggressively pushes my own
opinions but this is something I totally disagree with. It is really bad advice! Working out
problems is critical to maintaining a healthy relationship for most people. Unfortunately, my
personal experience and recent studies show that couples are avoiding the issues of finance.
In fact, a survey from Learnvest says, “Nearly half of Americans (48%) don’t know the
balances of their significant other’s investment accounts and nearly a third of Americans
(32%) don’t know their partner’s salary (32%) or the balances of their partner’s bank accounts
(31%)”. It is never easy to discuss, but the key to success is not avoidance, it is
communication and working through issues. I am not saying this will be easy, nevertheless,
issues, such as those related to finances, need to be tackled because:
1. The issue(s) will not go away.
2. You can never hide financial problems forever.
3. You may end up needing to tackle the issues at the worst possible time.
There is never a good time
A household centers around spending related to items such as food, clothing, medical,
education, sports and entertainment. If money is mismanaged or ignored, couples will begin
to stress and if it is never addressed, the result could be a break up. Unfortunately this occurs
all too often. The reality is that money issues are one of the leading causes of marriage break
ups. Learnvest highlights this in their survey, which indicates that one in four Americans have
broken up with their significant other due to money issues, and a further 58% percent of
Americans would prefer to be single than deal with money issues in a relationship. These are
not good statistics and clearly show that couples are going into relationships ill-equipped to
deal with a fundamentally important issue. To be fair, most of us were not properly taught
finances in great detail during our formative years while at school. We were ultimately left to
our own devices to figure it out or if we were lucky, with the help of our parents. I am sure
statistics would be different if we had greater focus on money in our education system.
Unfortunately, this is likely not going to change and we will continue to figure it out the hard
“Less than half of Americans (44%) say they are comfortable sharing their personal finance issues with their partner, source Learnvest"
Let`s be clear, I am not a therapist and everyone needs to find an approach that they feel
most comfortable with. This could be simply sitting down and talking together or it could be
seeking advice from a third party such as a financial advisor, money coach and possibly even
a therapist. Regardless of who you talk to and the approach you take, communication is key
to success, not avoidance. What my experience has shown is that at some point in time
financial issues will need to be addressed, unfortunately it will likely happen at the worst possible time, normally due to a crisis such as sudden employment, health problems, or
family issues. The bundled up frustrations coupled with the stress of the problems could end
up being too much for couples to deal with.
“Communication is key to success"
Talk about it
As I mentioned before, it is never going to be easy to discuss finances with a partner no
matter how well intended we try and make it. Having said that, unless there is communication, problems will not get resolved and they will only get worse. Never judge someone, be open and admit mistakes. Both parties need to be involved and if someone is not willing to open up about the issues, they will simply not get better. What I have found over the years is that although there are many causes of financial problems, there are two factors that seem to come up often.
• Salary differences with couples.
• Spending (One or both are spenders).
Whether this is the case or not, you need to identify the core issues and find a path to resolve those issues. Again, my experience has shown me that the lack of communication is a key problem along with the unwillingness to change or address the issue.
Seek advice from a third party
Sometimes the best way is to have a third party get involved. This could be a financial advisor at a credit union or bank or a money coach that can sit down with you and come up with a way to deal with finances. Working with money coaches for example is a great way to have someone help you develop a plan and follow up to ensure that you both are progressing. Even if you do not want to use a money coach or advisor long term, just sitting down with an expert can be a great starting point. From there you can work together developing your own plan.
“Ultimately it’s up to you to work with your significant other to work together and find a solution"
I wish I could say there is a simple solution when it comes to discussing finances. The best I
can do is raise the issue. The reality is that ultimately it is you and your spouse that need to
find out how to discuss and drive the changes required to ensure you are both successful with your finances. Remember that discussing finances with your significant other during a crisis is never easy and it can lead to long term issues from which you may not recover.
Communication is the key to help you succeed and working with a third party might help you
both see the issues and develop a plan to resolve them while also improving your relationship.