Do you hate the way your partner spends money? This is a common story that I have heard throughout my time as a developing couples therapist. Money is one of the most argued about topics in marriages. You see it in relationship articles, Cosmo magazines, and even from your neighbor who tells you she can’t believe her husband had to buy an even bigger television. If you’re one of the many couples who share an account and fight about money, here are 6 things you can do to help your relationship and cut down on the fighting.
6 Tips To Stop Arguing About Money
1) Be transparent. In financial arguments, there is often an underlying issue of trust. This is usually due to past mistakes, violations of trust by family or exes, or one person is in charge of the finances while the other is wondering what is happening financially. In a relationship where finances are shared, both partners typically want to have all of the information that is available. When couples are transparent with their bank statements and balances, trust can be (re)built and solutions can be developed.
2) Look at your income and look at your statement. Look at your income. Look specifically at how much net income you make and how much net income your partner makes. Are you spending more than you are making after all the bills are paid? Are you in better shape than you thought? Now that all the information is available, you can start considering the facts. Money is not the scary unknown thing that it used to be.
After looking over your income and figuring out how much money you have to spend, look over your statement. Look specifically at where your money is being spent. It can be tempting to start pointing fingers and blaming each another at this point, but don’t dive into that just yet. This is the time where you need to negotiate and begin making changes. Now you are starting to get on the track to arguing less about money.
3) Negotiate. Now that you’ve looked at the statements and seen where your money is going, you can probably both agree that money is being spent in the wrong areas. For example, is that weekly date night that comes out to an extra $200 a month really necessary? Is the car payment through the roof but you really just want something reliable? These are areas to consider negotiating about when looking at the big picture. Ways to negotiate these particular examples are eating in on some nights or consider getting a cheaper, but still reliable car.
But maybe that date night at that particular restaurant IS necessary and maybe he/she REALLY likes their car and you don’t want them to have to give it up. When you feel that you have gotten rid of the glaring missteps in spending and feel that the rest of the expenses may be necessary, it is time to consider how your current habits effect your goals as a couple.
4) Discuss financial goals. Discussing financial goals can help you two have a map for how to spend money. It can also give you insight into how current habits may be inhibiting your goals. If your goals as a couple are to own a house and have a family, how much is the hundreds of dollars being spent on date nights and car payments impacting your ability to accomplish those goals? If your goal is to go on a dream vacation this year but you are spending as much as you are making, look at what can be given up or negotiated to help you both accomplish your goal.
5) Come to an agreement. After finding out each other’s goals (as individuals and for the relationship), come to an agreement on what can stay the same and what needs to change for there to be mutual satisfaction in where money is being spent. This is usually easier said than done. However, this agreement is important to move forward and stay consistent with the new changes.
6) Make ongoing changes as they fit. It is rare that the changes that are decided on the first go-around are a perfect fit for your lifestyle. Expect having to make ongoing changes down the line to accommodate you and your partner’s needs. Maybe you were happier when you had those date nights and now you’re mad at Chris Cummins from The Marriage and Family Clinic because of his article! No need to worry. You can re-approach your plan and make changes so that you are satisfied with your spending habits and also in your relationship.
About the Author
Chris Cummins is an intern with The Marriage and Family Clinic. He focuses on working with substance abuse and couples in high conflict. Chris enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with his family.