Relationships aren’t just about romantic dinner dates, city breaks, and cozy Sunday afternoons on the couch. They’re also about practical matters, such as finances, which can actually influence your odds of staying together. According to researchers from Kansas State University, arguments about money are the biggest indicator of divorce in married couples, so even if thinking about finances might not be very fun, mustering the courage to address the subject head-on can help your relationship thrive.
Whether we do it unknowingly or because we still trust some myths about finances, many of us money mistakes in relationships. They might not seem problematic at first, but in the long run, they can slowly eat at your happiness and trust, making room for serious relationship troubles. Here are some of these mistakes and why they can sabotage your happy ever after.
1. Not discussing money (and money history)
This is, without a doubt, one of the longest-standing relationship money myths: that talking about money with your partner is rude, intrusive, or bad manners. It’s not. Discussing finances with your loved one is more than normal, it’s necessary. It’s a sign of realism, respect, maturity, and practicality. Unfortunately, most people grew up with the outdated idea that talking about money is a faux pas, which has led to couples being more comfortable discussing sex rather than money. This goes to show that money can be a deeply intimate topic that not many want to open up about.
According to PwC data, 65% of women and 52% of men rank money as their main cause of stress – and why would you want to hide your biggest cause of stress from your loved one?
Although you don’t have to discuss your each and every purchase with your partner, it’s important to share at least your general viewpoints on finances to avoid misunderstandings down the line. For example, if one of you grew up in a household where money was scarce, they might hesitate splurging on dates or anniversary gifts – not because they don’t think you’re worth it, but because they have a different system of values.
If, on the contrary, they’re a millionaire, they might feel very strongly about savings and investments, and that’s something you need to be on the same page with. Talking about money can be a bit uncomfortable at first, but being honest will help you avoid many misunderstandings. Don’t forget to be honest with yourself too. If you’re looking for a certain lifestyle or a partner who shares your finance beliefs, that’s alright. For example, millionaire dating sites make excellent communities for people with common financial interests, so you can look for a like minded partner there.
2. Not setting common money goals.
Love and money aren’t two parallel lines. Most of the time, they intersect, and a lot of the experiences you enjoy together as a couple are connected to your financial goals one way or another.
But did you know that even among couples who are otherwise compatible, money management can be a cause of disagreements? According to a study conducted by Ameriprise Financial, 73% of people have money management styles that are different from their partner’s, so maybe it’s not a good idea to assume that you think the same on all subjects.
If one of you wants to save money to go on a vacation while the other wants to save money to buy a car, it’s very possible to have an argument about it down the line, so try to work together, make compromises, and set achievable financial goals, at least in the short term. This way, you won’t be neglecting your needs, and you’ll be more motivated.
3. Putting all your money in a joint account
In a normal and healthy relationship, both partners contribute to relationship expenses. However, some go to an extreme that can cause more problems than it solves: putting all the money in a joint account, without preserving at least some level of financial autonomy.
The idea of saving some money in a joint account is actually good. Whether you want to get married, go on an exotic vacation, buy an apartment, or just have money for an emergency, a joint savings account is a great way for both of you to contribute.
But when you share all your money, you will start asking for permission to use your own hard-earned money and get into all sorts of arguments on what counts as an acceptable purchase and what can wait.
To avoid this situation, allocate a mutually agreed-upon sum for the joint account, and save some “me money” for yourself. This way, your paycheck will be just as rewarding, and when you feel the need to treat yourself, you won’t feel guilty that you’re taking away from family money.
4. Not making financial responsibilities clear.
For most couples, the first financial misunderstandings appear after moving in together. Before that, the biggest dilemmas are along the lines of who pays for dinner or how expensive the anniversary should be. But after you move in together and eventually get married, you’ll need to clearly define and split financial responsibilities.
Don’t expect to figure things out as you go along and understand one another without using words. Most of the time, it only ends in frustration. So, sit down with your loved one, make a realistic assessment of your financial capabilities, and decide who will pay for what, how you will invest, and how you will handle emergencies.
5. Income shaming
While you’re sharing financial responsibilities, be understanding, and don’t resort to income shaming. It’s quite rare for two people to make the same money, and if you’re the one who makes more, don’t hold this against your partner. They may be up for a promotion soon. Maybe the field in which they work doesn’t pay as well as yours, or maybe they have yet to gain more experience. Remember that you’re both trying to reach a common goal, it’s not a contest of who has the bigger paycheck.
At the end of the day, you don’t have to be a materialistic person to care about the impact that money can have on your relationship. On the contrary, discussing finances can boost communication between the two of you and make your relationship stronger.