If you and your partner can’t stop fighting over money, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey, 20% of Americans said that disagreements about finances often turn into full-blown arguments. This means couples fight more about money than they do about work, chores, or the kids.
Even more concerning is that arguments about money tend to be particularly disastrous to the relationship. In fact, a study by Jeffrey Dew of Utah State University found that married couples who argue about money once a week are twice as likely to divorce as those who disagreed less than once a month.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is there are things you and your partner can do to reduce fighting over money – no matter what your mindset and values are around money.
3 Ways To Stop Fighting Over Money With Your Partner
stop bullshitting yourselves about spending
If your partner finds out you owe $20K in student loans after you’ve been married three years, that’s a problem. It may be hard to talk about, but it’s crucial that both people are financially transparent.
Anytime you hide something from your partner, you make it that much harder to form real intimacy, trust, and connection. Secrecy is one of the first things to undermine a marriage, and when those secrets do finally come out, (and they will), the arguments and fights will follow.
budgeting isn’t just for your grandparents
Does establishing a budget with your partner sound like a fun project? Nope. However it’s critical that you both do it anyway. Think of it as an investment into your long-term stability of your marriage and sanity.
Creating a budget gives you factual information that cannot be disputed. Many financial arguments are based on assumptions and emotions. If you have a budget, you get to look at hard numbers and nothing else. If one of you doesn’t stick to the budget, there is no need for finger-pointing, because the numbers speak for themselves.
One important thing to note about creating budgets is to make sure you each have some wiggle room for smaller purchases you don’t want to defend. Create rules around spending. For example, no purchases over $100 without discussing first.
Last, be very clear about who is responsible for paying which bill. If you choose not to have joint accounts (not a good idea by the way) then not doing this is a sure way to create avoidable financial and marital problems.
stop trying to make your partner like you
Everyone has their own unique views on money, so it’s important that you and your partner understand each other spending style. Are you a spender or saver? Two savers together is a good thing. Two spenders together can be challenging. But even more challenging is when a spender and saver hook up – especially when there’s a lack of understanding of each others money values.
When this happens, the saver resents the spender on an almost daily basis for buying the unnecessary latte or the pretty new bra. Understanding each others spending styles won’t change them, but it will open the lines of communication and doors to understanding.
Life is short. Hopefully your marriage isn’t. But it will be if you spend it fighting over money. If you and your partner can’t find common ground when it comes to fighting over money (or anything else), then find an awesome therapist your like and trust to help navigate though.
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.