Money is inextricably intertwined with long-term relationships. Marriage is an economic contract, just as much as an acknowledgment of love. And the number one issue that causes strife with couples is conflict around finances. The experience people have managing their money range wildly, based on how they were raised, their level of education, and their varying ability to generate wealth. What are some of the most common financial conflicts that couples face, and how can a couple work together to resolve these difficult money conflicts in a way that saves strife and heartbreak, and keep the relationship intact?
Unemployment. In today’s challenging economy, many couples are facing a situation where one or both are experiences a loss of income or being underemployed. What to do if you find yourself, or your significant other, in this situation? It all stems from being prepared. Make sure you and your partner set aside the time to understand your monthly expenses and plan for those rainy days, so you are ready to adjust your lifestyle as needed before unemployment can damage your self-esteem and cause emotional strife.
Children. Children can be the greatest blessing in your relationship but are also a significant financial burden. Children represent life, but also decades of responsibility for food, education, clothing, vacations, extra-curricular activities, and emergency expenses. Again, it comes down to the preparation and proper budget understanding, but if you take the time to instill in your children a clear understanding of financial management, they’ll be in a better position to take the financial strain off of you when the time comes.
Taxes. They’re impossible to get around (without a lengthy legal battle or prison stay), but also increasingly difficult to manage. Honesty between partners in the clearest path towards managing this yearly expense. Try to avoid hiding income or expenses from your partner, and you’ll both avoid the nasty surprises April can bring.
Large purchases. A new automobile. That house you’ve always wanted. That big can’t-miss investment. When exploring these opportunities with your partner, explore the emotional impact alongside the practical plans. What do these purchases mean to you? Are you both on board with the long-term, legal connection this brings to the relationship? If you’re not ready to make a 30-year commitment to your significant other, perhaps you should wait before jointly signing a 30-year mortgage.
Vacations and luxury expenditures. Your idea of how best to spend extra income may vary from that of your partner. For one, adding to savings may be an exciting option, while the other finds no excitement short of the cruise to Cancun they’ve been envisioning. There are also several different levels of vacation that could suffice. Perhaps a coach airline would be just fine. Maybe the hotel upgrade is unnecessary. Decide how you both feel about these expenditures before you book, and you’ll enjoy that vacation much more.
Navigating the worlds of finances and love are difficult on their own, and especially so when joined within a committed relationship. Don’t be afraid to seek out help. You could even study up on the subject by exploring a degree in conflict resolution. But whichever path you take, preparation and open communication are an integral part of avoiding and resolving money conflicts within your relationship.