When it comes to relationships, nothing comes close to money in terms of its ability to raise the tension to 'end-of-the-world' levels.
An ever-present elephant in the room for most, money, debt, and finances present a triple threat in terms of top issues that plague many relationships.
Be it a couple that has just decided to move in together, or newlyweds looking to start a family, it's very important to have an honest talk about money.
Choosing to leave it unchecked and unaddressed, in many cases, could lead to breakups and divorces.
We hate to admit it, but money and relationships are woven together in an inseparable knot.
In a recent global survey carried out by Ally Bank, 36% of couples pegged money as the biggest source of stress and conflict in their relationship.
Psychological, behavioral and neuroscience research indicates that how stable and secure you feel in your interpersonal relationships often mirrors how secure you feel about your finances.
Countless surveys have shown that most of the conflicts experienced in relationships boil down to needs vs. wants, spending priorities, and making purchases without involving one's partner.
You'd be surprised to find out just how many relationships have crumbled as a result of impulse purchases...the PS5 has led many partners to nights on the sofa.
Well, according to various psychologists, arguments that stem from finances are about more than just the money.
Examined critically, these kinds of arguments are based on personal beliefs, values, and goals in life.
Each one of us develops a set of money beliefs based on past experiences, as well as our own upbringing.
For example, your partner may hold this belief that money should be used for status (a need to live the so-called soft life), while you believe that money should be used to create security. Inevitably, this leads to conflict.
Studies have also shown that power differences in relationships are often linked to money.
Whether these power differences are real or perceived makes little difference, as they often result in heated arguments.
One of the most common scenarios is when one partner is earning significantly more than the other.
This can result in the partner bringing in less money feeling powerless, and out of the loop due to a sense of lack of control and inadequacy. Resentment and conflict often follows.
Many people consider money a “taboo” topic, however, in order to maintain a healthy relationship, openly talking about it is the only way.
To break the ice, you could make it a date (maybe every last Saturday of the month) and start with a few fun questions. The ultimate goal is just to start and maintain an open line of communication when it comes to finances.
During this 'money date', you could review your bills, budgets, and the progress made on any debts and goals, noting what went well and what needs to be adjusted.
Perspective is key because as mentioned earlier, past experiences have a heavy influence on one's mindset and beliefs about money.
You should make it a habit to talk about what impact your past has on your current situation. The key thing is to try to understand how your partner’s history affects their views.
Before you discuss a day-to-day budget or long-term goals, you could first identify your big, overarching money values.
It is important to note that when it comes to money, you might not always agree with your partner.
As a matter of fact, you may find it hard to grasp why your significant other chooses to prioritize a PlayStation ahead of savings. That is totally okay.
The key thing is to keep the line of communication open and honest, find common ground as well as compromise where necessary.
There will always be differences in how you use and think about money, but if you’re open and honest about it, finding common ground is much easier.
Most people shy away from planning for doomsday scenarios, however, doing so ensures that you are both aligned in terms of your future.
As an example, you could prioritize writing a will (for married couples), authorising financial and health care powers of attorney, ensuring that your account beneficiaries are up to date, and creating an account for your children's education.
This could also involve engaging the services of a financial advisor who can help in things like managing loans.
A third party could also prove to be an asset if you can't decide on which financial service provider best suits your income.
This is not meant to create a sort of power hierarchy but rather set up an efficient system within the relationship.
With so many money matters involved within any household, having one person taking the lead would create a sense of accountability.
This could greatly reduce the chance of a 'babe, gas imeisha!’' type of argument as each one knows their specific roles.
Ultimately, trust and honesty are an integral part of a healthy, happy relationship. Transparency when it comes to finances goes a long way in avoiding unnecessary conflicts.
Communication is everything when it comes to money and relationships.
The sooner you get comfortable talking openly about finances with your partner, the easier it will be to make a solid, financial life together.