The "Money Talk" in Relationships
By: April Carson
Relationships are all about communication, but a lack of money talk can make things tough. Are you talking to your partner about money? If not, it may be time to sit down and have a frank discussion with your sweetheart about finances. Experts suggest that couples need to discuss their attitudes toward money early in a relationship.
"Talking about money is difficult for many people," says Lynette Khalfani-Cox, author of "Zero Debt: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom." "Money is often considered taboo because it's so personal and we get uncomfortable talking about what something costs or how much we earn." It may be easier to avoid money talk, but experts say it can also make a relationship tougher.
"We all have our own feelings around the way we use and handle money that stem from our upbringing," she says. "Some people grew up watching their parents fight over finances while other folks had very open talks about how they were using money." Those early conversations set the tone for how we handle money in our adult relationships.
It's important to get on the same page with your spouse about money. However, you can only do that if you have clear communication about all things finance-related: from long term goals and dreams down to small household expenses. Don't let this stress ruin what should be a happy time in life!
Getting on the same page as your spouse is so important. But it won't happen until both of you are open and honest about each other's financial history, future plans for employment or college education for children, how much debt either one of has accumulated (and why), etc.; basically everything related to finances must be discussed before marriage even begins . Otherwise there will always remain unanswered questions and concerns which could lead into unnecessary arguments later down the road.
The initial phase of a relationship is always the most intense and exhilarating period for a couple. So naturally, couples tend to get caught up in it all and may not even consider talking about money as an important aspect. But establishing financial goals early on will help you plan financially and save much more down the road. As simple as it sounds, it also seems to be the most neglected aspect of a relationship. And that is why we stress its importance - to enhance your money management skills so you can benefit as much as possible!
Bringing up the Money Topic:
So how do you approach this usually touchy topic (no, not THAT type) with your potential partner? What if he or she doesn't want to talk about it? Or worse, what if you have different views on money?
First of all, don't be embarrassed to open up. Remember when you started going out with your significant other, there was no such thing as 'intimacy'? You knew his or her deepest and darkest secrets in the first few weeks and pretty soon, things got physical. There was no need to be embarrassed then, so why should it be different when you talk about money?
Actually, the only difference this time is that the stakes are much much higher. You're dating to get married and have kids so your finances become one of the most important factors - perhaps THE most important! As I've said before, it doesn't matter if you're a millionaire or a pauper, you will still need to plan how your money should be spent and controlled.
So who starts the conversation?
Typically, when dating we don't ask questions like 'where do you work?' as that's like asking someone what they do for a living - yuck! But if you are a couple that is just getting to know each other then it's not going too far out of line.
If you're on a date, it may be best to start the conversation naturally. If your date is treating you to dinner or some other activity, bring up the subject of how much things cost and see how they react. Perhaps pay for your drinks if you feel obliged to do so—that could be another area where money disagreements break out. If you're already in a relationship, it's a good idea to start the conversation by clarifying your financial roles and responsibilities.
Starting the conversation about money, when you're not really sure how a partner feels about it, can be key in avoiding future arguments. As long as the conversation is done calmly and with an open mind chances are your partner will do the same.
Couples who have been dating for some time may not feel it necessary to talk about money as there's a good chance that both people share the same financial values. On the other hand, if you have recently started dating and your partner spends money as if he is single, it may be a good idea to start talking about money.
Money can say a lot about someone's values and that in itself is quite telling. If, for example they are stingy with their money when it comes to buying you dinner or going out with friends, imagine how they would be when it came to the future! You don't have to be rich; money is good for everyone but it shouldn't control a relationship.
Talking about money while you're in a relationship may be a great way to find out more about each other and see if you are on the right track or not. At least, it will cut down on arguments later and let you get straight into what really matters!