Welcome to week two of my latest five-week blog series. This week, I am addressing another huge issue many couples struggle with: money.
Financial hardship is most likely going to cause some disruption in your relationship at some point. One of you may lose a job, unforeseen expenses come out of nowhere, and BOOM! You're fighting. Money, budgeting, and handling finances can be quite stressful on a relationship. It's one of the major reasons why married people divorce. One 2009 study from Utah State University found that "couples who disagree about money less than once per month run a 30 to 40 percent increase in the risk of divorce. This rate increases steeply when the partners fight several times per month, once a week, several times a week, to almost daily, when the risk increases to 125 percent to 160 percent." *
So what can be done about handling money squabbles? Those issues will not go away on their own, so ignoring them does no good. Here are some ideas to get you started in discussing (rather than fighting over) this monumental concern:
Do not talk about money when you're already tired. By not being fully engaged, you or your partner will be more likely to end up fighting rather than calmly talking. This means not starting a conversation when you're getting ready for bed. Though it may be on your mind, it can wait until tomorrow when you're both better rested.
Set a regular time (weekly, monthly, whatever works for you) to discuss your budget. Cover areas such as savings, known upcoming expenses, where you might want to cut back, or where you can have more flexibility. These discussions might even lead to planning for fun things you can do together like date nights and vacations.
Prioritize! Though you and your partner may not see eye to eye on where you spend all of your money, get together and prioritize your most important financial responsibilities. Some of these may include mortgage payments, bills, loans, food, etc. When you know you have enough to cover these expenses, the other things could come easier.
Realize you and your partner might have different ideas about money, what it means to you, and how to spend and/or save. This often causes conflict and when you can come to a place where you understand why the other person does not have the same viewpoint, empathy can emerge and you begin to understand each other better. There is a very helpful free online tool I recommend from Kristen Judd, an agent at Five Rings Financial and Owner/CEO at Money Secrets in Colorado that you and your partner can use to determine what type of "money personality" you each have. This short quiz shows you a snapshot about your habits when it comes to money:
I hope some of these pointers help you decrease your chances of conflict when discussing money. As always, if you find yourself gridlocked over issues such as these, it is best to find a reliable third party person (such as a couples therapist) to help guide you to have more effective communication.
Next week's topic: "and baby makes three"
* Source information from http://www.divorcesource.com/ds/main/u-s-divorce-rates-and-statistics-1037.shtml