As much as a couple in starry-eyed love may want to shout to each other and the world that money doesn’t matter, the truth is that finances become an issue, at some point or another, in all long-term relationships. Knowing this from the onset of a serious relationship will allow you to keep this particular issue under control before it grows into a big, ugly monster.
Setting up shared priorities, or even parallel sets of priorities, as far as spending goes, allows you to see where you’ll both be spreading your funds. Neglecting to spend the time and effort required to make financial priorities clear to both sides is providing an opening for squabbles.
Once the ball of resent between partners has started rolling, it is a very difficult thing to stop. As an example:
Lisa and Rick have been together for two years. For the first year, everything was just great, but then cracks began forming in their relationship. Now, at two years, these cracks are slowly on their way to turning into ravines. They both have good jobs and their income is adequate to cover both day-to-day expenses, plus some savings. Lisa and Rick never actually sat down to put all their financial issues on the table. It was never clear what exactly their incomes were, where and how much debt was owed, what the expenses were and what future monetary plans may be.
After a while, Rick started wondering exactly what kind of debt Lisa was dragging around. Lisa had always been careful with money because she’d been through her home being foreclosed upon as a child due to her parents’ reckless spending habits. Rick had no clue about that, as Lisa had never shared it. He though she was just being cheap about everything. Where was she hiding that money? Wasn’t he high enough on her priority list to go out to nice restaurants sometimes? Take a vacation here and there? He was resenting her priorities while she began to feel anger toward what she considered his carefree spending habits. Frustration in this area led to hurt in other areas and the relationship began to unravel.
As with other areas of long-term relationships, hurt, anger and resent can develop quickly as a result of communication neglect. These feelings can start out as a small snowball, but pushed down the side of a mountain, they can morph into an avalanche.
So get it out there. Your past, present and hopes for the future – for both your sakes! Discuss your money history and philosophy together.
Your financial conflict and your opposing money types are a result of themes and mores learned from your family, religion and culture. If you and your partner want to resolve financial conflict, you must first understand your respective relationships with money.