Money Problems and Couples: How to Be a Better Partner
Having your money under control means greater personal security, a better chance at happiness, more options for the feature, more leisure time and a whole host of other life benefits. But when couples feel the pinch, sparks can fly. In fact, one recent study found that arguments about money are the single greatest predictor about whether married couples will one day divorce.
That's an interesting finding, seeing as the researchers found that it didn't matter if the couples were rich or poor, had debt or were debt-free. Fundamental disagreements about money transcend socioeconomic status, and when you and a partner don't see eye to eye, your relationship may pay the price. If you and your partner are on the rocks due to financial stress or if you want to avoid these problems in the future, here are some things to work on.
Don't Be So Materialistic
A BYU study found that people with the highest measure of "materialism," or the perceived importance of having lots of money and things, had the lowest measure of happiness. When one or both members of a romantic relationship scored high on the materialism index, the relationships seemed uniformly miserable. How do you be good with money without being materialistic? There's no easy answer. In the same way some people are intelligent without being arrogant, while other intelligent people are full of themselves, some people just seem to pull off the feat.
Practically speaking, investing money in meaningful shared experiences, maintaining a reasonable lifestyle regardless of income and becoming more charitable are all ways of staving off the creeping effects of materialism. It may require some attention and personal change, but anybody can learn to better prioritize money and things, in favor or human relationships and happiness.
Have the Same Money Goals
Partners who don't share money goals and spending strategies tend to have problems ... to put it mildly. Some research indicates that when one partner perceives the other partner's spending habits to be foolish, the couple is 45 percent more likely to break up. Going from financial harmony to cooperation is easier said than done. It may take a financial catastrophe, money education, or counseling. Both partners need to recognize the problem and work to correct it. It can be hard work, but establishing a workable budget and planning together for the future is integral to the stuff that makes lasting relationships.
In addition to shared goals, every couple should help manage money. One partner can cover daily inflow, while the other invests and makes sure the bills are paid. Whatever jobs you choose for yourselves, it's essential that both partners be involved daily. It's not enough to make a plan, then pass it on to one partner while the other partner ignores it completely.
Set the Problem Aside (for a Minute)
Money troubles have a way of sucking the air out of the room. If you and a partner are in debt, you likely don't enjoy fun times outside of the house, away from your problems, very often. If money trouble has taken its toll on your relationship, find a way to get a breath of fresh air. Go for a hike, spend time with close friends, have your parents watch the kids while you take a breather. Doing the work or rehabilitating your joint financial life is tough. This work can be as stressful as the money problems themselves. If you're doing the work of making your shared finances work better, take some time for yourselves. If your relationship can survive this time in life, it can get through anything. Give it all the help you can.
If money problems and miscommunication are weighing down your relationship, start investing in a better future. Money difficulty can be the most toxic element in an otherwise successful relationship. Fix these problems, and you and your partner with have a much greater chance at health and happiness.