The Impact of Financial Stress: How To Talk About Money With Your Significant Other

Business growth consultant Daniel Groves shares communication tips to help you talk about money with your partner without causing an argument.

Finances can be a significant source of stress in any relationship. Whether it’s worrying about lack of money, disagreements about how to handle the finances, or different ideas around saving versus spending, talking about money with your significant other can be challenging. 

Why It’s Important to Talk About Money With Your Partner 

Before we get into it, you might be wondering why it’s important to discuss financial matters with your partner in the first place. After all, everyone handles money differently and many people enter a relationship with the intention of keeping their finances separate from their partner. 

Your decision around this is your own. However, we would encourage you to be open and honest about the state of your finances – whether you choose to share them or not – so that you and your partner are both on the same page. Talking openly about money with your partner will: 

  • Help avoid arguments or financial disagreements 
  • Promote openness and honesty in your relationship 
  • Help you both manage your finances better (individually or together) 
  • Allow you to better plan for the future 
  • Foster a closer connection between you both. 

How To Talk About Money 

Whether you have been together for a number of months or a number of decades, money issues can arise at any stage of a relationship. In fact, you will likely discover that the topic of finance is something you need to discuss semi-regularly as your lives and financial needs change over time. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can discuss this sensitive topic easily with your significant other. 

1. Make Your Intentions Clear 

Broaching the topic of money can be difficult. It is easy for conversations to become heated as either party can feel offended or frustrated by something that was said. This is why we think it’s best to start by making your intentions clear. 

Sit with your partner and calmly explain that you want to talk about the state of your finances. Rather than launching into the blame game (“you never pay your bills on time” or “you’re terrible at saving”), focus on the fact finances are something you both need to work on. If your partner feels judged or like the topic is being raised for their own benefit, this can lead to defensiveness and a very unproductive conversation. 

According to Courtneyrose Chung, a marriage and family therapist, talking about your financial intentions doesn’t have to be an intense conversation. It can also be fun! As she shares, “talking about money isn’t only about budgets, conversations about bills, and stressing about higher credit cards than you planned for. Money talks can also be about goals, dreams for your future, where and when you want to retire, and the types of trips you want to go on together.” 

2. Discuss Changes In Circumstances 

Throughout the course of your life, there may be times when you need to rely on your partner for help and support. And there may come a time when this support needs to be financial. This can be difficult for many people to accept and is often a challenge couples have to overcome. 

However, a big change in your circumstance – whether the loss of a job, a pregnancy, mounting debt, or a family crisis – is the ideal time to sit down with your partner and talk about money. You might consider revisiting your budget together and setting some mutual financial goals. 

Whether you need to cut back on spending, take up a part-time job, or request a loan from the bank, being open and honest with your partner about changes in your circumstances is the best place to start. 

3. Confront Your Suspicions 

Do you suspect that your partner has a secret gambling addiction or that they’re hiding debt from you? Confronting suspicions like these can be tricky. However, it is important to do so you can ensure your partner receives the support they need.

According to Olivia Marcellino, VP of Research at LuxuryRehabs.com, “Money, whether we like it or not, directly correlates to quality of life. Without it, we can’t buy food or warmth. Gambling is a dangerous game, one that gives us a big buzz when we’re up and an extreme low when we’re down. Due to the high of winning and guilt-driven effort to win back losses, addiction is highly likely.” 

If you’ve noticed your partner seems more withdrawn than usual, depressed, or secretive in their behaviour, this could be the result of hidden financial problems. Discovering your partner has been hiding their financial state or money habits from you can be upsetting. However, it’s important to prioritise being there for your partner so that you can discuss the best solution moving forward. 

4. Be Honest About Earnings 

According to research, in 34% of cohabiting couples (whether married or not), one or both partners don’t know how much money the other makes. Differences in earnings can impact financial stress in a relationship. Whether you earn more or less than your partner, this can cause issues if you do not discuss how to share financial costs fairly. 

When you both earn different amounts, it can be easy for assumptions to cause disagreements and misunderstandings. For example, you might assume your partner can afford to eat out a couple of times a month when in reality, they can’t. Being aware of earning differences and sharing your needs early helps avoid feelings of hurt and frustration that can cause damage to a relationship in the long term. 

5. Discuss Your Attitudes Towards Money 

Everyone has different attitudes towards money. You might be a saver – always saving your change and keeping an eye on your spending – while your partner might be a spender, preferring to live life now rather than saving for later. 

Whether your relationship is new or you’ve been together for a while, rest assured that having different attitudes towards money is normal. After all, you’re different people and your life experiences and financial background will be different as well. 

However, it’s important to discuss your attitudes towards money in order to avoid disagreements in the future. You should never just assume that your partner holds the same financial attitudes as you. This can lead to feelings of resentment and can be the cause of disagreements. However, when you know each other’s approach, you can work out a plan that you’re both comfortable with. 

Final Words 

Financial stress is something most couples experience at one point or another. It’s how you overcome it that really matters. We hope the communication strategies in this article will help you talk with your significant other about money so that you can both move forwards together.

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