Role of Money in Relationships

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13th February, 2023

It is Valentine Week and Love is in the air.

You must be wondering why we are talking about money in a week like this. Most people consider it rude to talk about money, but alas,

Money matters are one of the prime reasons for stress in relationships and, in marriage, a prime reason why couples drift apart.

Financial infidelity is a bigger cause for break ups than physical infidelity.

Many arguments stem from the feeling that either one spouse is spending too much or is trying to control the other’s spending.

Most couples spend more time discussing restaurant choices than money matters.

Seeking only positives and avoiding the tough decisions are signs of a toxic relationship. Seeing where you’re at on saving and spending should be a regular activity.

As an exercise, go over monthly bills with your spouse, meet your financial advisor jointly, review your portfolio at the end of the year, and discuss your achievement vis-a-vis your goals.

There is no one right way to handle cash. The trick is to find a way that works in your marriage. This comes by first acknowledging the role of money in any relationship.

Here are four things we have seen work for couples who are arguing and sparring over finances.

Firstly, having a heart-to-heart chat about money goes a long way. The more effectively you can communicate the plan for your future finances, the better it is.

Discuss and design effective ways to handle cash and spending together. Come clean with all things financial, instead of burying secrets.

Answer the following questions frankly and you will know where you stand in your financial fidelity with your partner.

• Do you make purchases and hide them from your partner?

• Do you pay cash so that the significant other won’t know what you spend money on?

• Do you have debt or bad investments that you are hiding?

• Do you share your credit score?

• Does your spouse know what to do and whom to contact in case of a financial emergency?

The second step is to find common goals. Open the lines of communication.

You’ll gain an understanding of each other’s values about money. Set up a regular meeting to talk about family finances.

• Have you shared your income details and made a budget?

• Have you discussed where you want to be financially in 5 years, 10 years, and 20 years?

• Have you planned for your retirement, where do you want to settle, how much money would you require per month at present cost?

• If you have children, have you discussed what are you willing to fund for them (education, marriages, homes)?

• What do you and your partner want for yourselves, your family, and your community?

• What is the financial impact of these goals?

• For example, if you desire to travel to Europe in three years, how will you save for this goal?

• Have you agreed upon a savings and investment strategy?

Next, do not force a financial conversation. It can be a very unpleasant thing to do when either is not in the mood. At the same time, if both are never in the mood then it gets postponed indefinitely. Avoid that too!

We know of couples who communicate about their finances via email or Whatsapp. It works best for them to each take the time to put their thoughts in writing, and then allow their partner to review and respond at a time that’s convenient.

Other folks like to sit down over dinner or chat while taking a walk. There’s no correct venue for these conversations, they just need to happen.

Finally, be generous. A gift or a favour goes a long way in keeping a relationship healthy.

Surprises are even better.

This Valentine week, fix a Financial Date, Discuss money matters with your partner / spouse, come clean about money and stay blessed forever.