By: Dr. George James
Some say that money is the root of all evil while others believe the love of money is the source of all evil. In loving committed relationships, money can become the evil that breaks the couple up. In a healthy relationship, it is important for the couple to talk about money, discuss spending habits, figure out how to pay bills together and develop a budget to help with future goals.
This is not an innate process, like any other aspect of a romantic relationship. Both members of the relationship will have different perspectives on the role of money in their relationship.
- One person wants to save, the other wants to spend.
- One wants a budget and the other wants to be care free.
- One is considered cheap/frugal while the other has expensive taste.
- One person has a Roth IRA and savings while the other person has mounting credit card debt.
The financial imprint from our family, friends and society can manifest itself not only in clear obvious ways but in deeper subconscious ways as well.
The disparities aren’t as polarizing as this seems, but there are differences that each couple should pay attention to in order to reduce money battles and tension in the relationship. As the tension builds over the course of the relationship, the couple starts to experience power struggles. “I make the money, so I make the decisions,” or “I take care of the kids, so I make decisions,” or “I worked hard this week, and I deserve to treat myself.”
Most of our perspectives on money come from what we witnessed throughout our lives. How our family, and sometimes friends, used or misused money can shape our thoughts and actions. The financial imprint from our family, friends and society can manifest itself not only in clear obvious ways but in deeper subconscious ways as well. These conscious and subconscious experiences with money can create a divide between you and your partner without the proper tools.
5 Financial Tips to Keep Money from Ruining Your Relationship
- Talk it Out – Talk sooner rather than later about your views, values and perspectives about money.
- Listen Before You Dismiss – Before you dismiss or reject what your partner has to say, try to listen to her/him. Think about what might have influenced their perspective. Ask questions to get a clearer picture.
- Plan for the Future – Work on a plan for your money. For most people that means developing a budget. This could also include working with a financial planner.
- Make the Commitment – Commit to whatever plan you both come up with. If not, you will only sabotage your end goal.
- Have Fun – Leave room to have fun. Set money aside to go on dates, vacations, activities, shopping and other fun things.
In Shopping, the fourth episode, of the new web series Funny Married Stuff we highlight the dynamic mentioned above as a couple uses a humorous approach to discuss who spends the most, how they will work to save towards a goal and how their love & support for each other outweighs their different perspectives on money.
Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation as the couple in the episode or you relate to the example above. Here are some steps you can take to discuss money, it’s role in your relationship, your financial goals, how to overcome power struggles, and how to show each other love and support instead of resentment when money comes up.
Dr. George James, LMFT speaks, counsels, consults, coaches and teaches people how to overcome difficult relationships problems and build successful happy connections. James has been a reoccurring expert on many radio, TV and online programs. He is also a reoccurring relationship contributor to Ebony magazine. James is a staff therapist and an AAMFT-approved supervisor at Council For Relationships. Find out more about Dr. George James at GeorgeTalks.com.