How to Resolve Money-Related Disputes in a Relationship
Did you know that the average couple spends 250 and 700 hours planning their wedding? This number is INSANE. Granted, I think my wife spent 2000 hours planning our wedding. For those of you who didn’t know, she is a wedding planner on the side. (Hello side hustle!) Did you also know that the average expense for a wedding is between $20,000 and $25,000? Now, I don’t have to tell you that is a lot of cheeseburgers!
For those of you who are not mathematically inclined. That is:
7163 Big Mac’s
3974 Five Guy Cheese Burgers (For you McDonald’s haters)
The funny thing is that people put all this time and effort into planning for this “Big Day,” and they forget about one of the most important aspects of their new union – FINANCIAL COMPATIBILITY!
Let’s face it, money could be a point of contention in any relationship, whether it’s with the love of your life, your parents, or your children. The sad part is that people have no problem spending money, and they can do that all day, but many people have a problem talking about money. Heck, most people are so uncomfortable talking about money that they go to great lengths to avoid the conversation, even with their significant other.
Now why is that?
How can you sleep in the same bed with and fight for someone with no problem, but when the topic of currency comes up you run away faster than a cheetah at top speed? Did you know that 50% of marriages end in divorce? Did you also know that money problems are a big reason why those marriages end?
The answer to the title of this blog post is right under your noses people. Since differing opinions on money can and will threaten the stability of a marriage or at least cause a ton of arguments between you and your snookums, learning to communicate with the person you whisper sweet nothings to, is a critical step in developing an effective financial plan and monetary relationship.
Money talks can occur between more people than just you and your spouse. Your parents and inlaws are involved too! Everyone gets old, and as they age you may have to take on more responsibility for their care. You will have to consider things like…
- Do you know what their current healthcare coverage is?
- Do they have enough money to retire?
- Do they want to live with you or live in a home?
- Where do they keep the important financial and legal documents?
Just writing those questions down made me break out in a sweat, but I would rather be prepared before the inevitable storm hits. Imagine trying to find these things out or plan for an health emergency with your mother or father, during the emergency. Can you say “stressed the hell out?”
Do you and your partner have different preferences when it comes to cola? Do you know people from different regions of the USA who have different dialects? Do you prefer using a MAC while your spouse would rather work on a PC? Since differences like these exist, is it so hard to grasp the possibility that the two people who exchanged vows have different money personalities?
Take us for example…
A great example is in my household. I’m very analytical, and I love to plan everything in advance. My wife, however, is impulsive and is about having “fun and enjoying life” as she likes to tell me. Some people see money as a means of control, some use it to express affection, and, heck, some even use it to boost their self-esteem or the self-esteem of others. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you this, but when couples have very different attitudes toward money, conflicts are bound to arise.
Another way to look at it is…
If you still don’t get it, look at it this way. Imagine you like America’s team, the Dallas Cowboys. You love their rich football tradition and their long line of just simply winning, and your spouse likes the Washington Redskins. You don’t know why he or she likes the Washington Redskins, but you still love him or her.
Now, imagine it’s football Sunday, and the Dallas Cowboys are playing the Washington Redskins, and you both are sitting in the living room in front of the big screen TV in your favorite player’s jersey. Do you think you and your spouse are on the same page in that scenario? Heck NO. You are going to be polar opposites for at least 60 minutes. Well, money is the same way.
Making yourself aware of the situation
The absolute best way to avoid a financial disaster in your marriage and to resolve money disputes is to be aware of your partner’s financial style. Most importantly you want to keep the lines of communication wide open, and you need to be willing to compromise. This isn’t a hard concept to put into practice if you view money personality types in a similar fashion as you view your partner’s phobias or food allergies.
For example, my wife suffers from cynophobia, which is the fear of dogs. As a child she was bitten by a pitbull, and she has yet to get over her fear of dogs, though she is getting better. I’ve known this since I met her, and I love dogs!
In fact, I’ve had dogs all my life, big dogs, but since I know my wife is petrified of dogs, I am on high alert and go to great lengths to protect her from any and every dog in the area.
Some of you maybe thinking umm, sir, don’t you have a dog. Why yes we do! One of the treatments for cynophobia is sensitivity training, which is a scientific term for you must be around a dog to get over your fears. So we got a dog. Not the dog I wanted (Rottweiler), the dog she wanted. We purchased a bichon poodle known to love people, have a great temperament and small enough for her to easily overpower.
Do you see how I compromised my love for dogs to protect the one I love? You must be willing to do that with how you handle money. It’s unlikely that you can change your partner’s view of money, or even change your own view of money. It’s just like the fact that I can’t magically help my wife get over her fear of dogs, but you can work out your differences! Communication is just the beginning, and it’s not something you do one time and forget. People change over time and you must have constant communication to ensure both parties are happy.
To gain a better understanding of your differences do a simple exercise. Work together to establish financial goals that takes into consideration each person’s needs, wants, and values. For example, I’m all about replacing the income from our jobs with the incomes from real estate properties. I’m the risk taker in the relationship, and I planned it out and even wrote down a 10 year plan to do it. My wife is a bit more cautious and wants to ensure we are saving a lot of money, at one point she wanted an amount of money in our emergency fund which would equal 5 years of expenses! This would put the hopes of my real estate dreams well off into the future. How did we come to an agreement? We collaborated and came up with a plan which would make both of us happy.
I suggest within the next 30 days, if you haven’t already, that you sit down with your spouse, your children, and your parents and start talking about finances, just get your feelings out there. Then start working on a plan that will make everyone happy.
Call to action!
How do you and your significant other handle money conflicts? What did you do to resolve the problem(s)?