by Gladys Diaz

fighting over money_FDP_ID-10076003

My partner doesn’t understand money and spends it recklessly. I’m afraid we’re going to end up in the poorhouse. We can’t even bring the subject up because it immediately leads to a fight.

Ask anyone what one of the top reasons for divorce is, and they will probably say, “Money.”  Contrary to public opinion – and even studies – I disagree.  I don’t believe that money is the main reason people get divorced.  It’s how people relate to one another when it comes to money that leads to the arguments, blame, and resentment that ultimately leads many couples to divorce one another.

So what are some of the factors that lead to having “money problems” inside of romantic relationships?

  • Keeping “money secrets.” One of the reasons people have trouble when it comes to money and relationships is that, many times, they don’t discuss money issues prior to joining their lives, and, consequently, their finances.  I’ve had clients who, because they are in a lot of debt feel as sense of shame around their situation, are afraid that it could cost them being in a relationship with someone they love.  Hence, they’ll avoid bringing up the topic of finances until after marriage.

Granted, when we are getting to know someone, we always try to present ourselves in the most positive light. But, once you begin getting closer and consider spending your life with someone, it’s important to be honest about those issues that can potentially impact the other person.  While it’s natural to be afraid when you’re unsure of how a person will react to learning something about you that’s not wonderful and exciting, it’s also important to have trust in a relationship and that begins with being truthful.

  • Being afraid to join finances. Another common money issue I’ve seen come is the unwillingness of one or both of the people to join finances when they join their lives – and I’m not even talking about those that start our their marriages with a prenuptial agreement that protects them just in case the marriage comes to an end (which is a whole other blog post!).  I’m referring to the fear of giving up “what’s mine” in order to begin to create “what’s ours.”

 

When I coach women in this area, I remind them that the real issue is not whether or not they actually join their finances with their husband, it’s dealing with the fear that has them belief that this is unsafe or that he will someone take advantage of or not provide for her needs. That is a much deeper issue than whether or not you go to the bank and open a joint checking or savings account.  And, while this is a topic that calls for more coaching than I can do via this blog post, I will say that, once the fears are addressed, the woman begins to experience freedom around finances and to enjoy a very deep level of intimacy with her husband.

 

  • The unwillingness to compromise. Before we get married, each of us has a certain way of doing things.  We have a system for paying our bills on time, managing our checkbook, and tracking our spending (or not).  When we get married, chances are that our new spouse also has his own way of doing these things and there’s a very good chance that it’s going to be different than our way.  Coming to the conversation ready to prove that you’re right and he’s wrong is only going to have both of your defenses up. Here’s where the willingness to compromise and consider that maybe – just maybe – there is another way to do things.  Being willing to accept that different doesn’t mean “wrong,” will go a long way toward avoiding those arguments you mentioned in your email.

 

Going back to your original question, you mention that your partner is spending money “recklessly.”  Can you see how there is already a judgment that how he spends and manages money is “wrong”?  For men, who have a natural desire to provide for and please women, this also sends the message that you don’t trust him to be responsible and care for you.

A better way to approach this may be just letting him know what you would like, instead of what you think he should do.  For instance, letting him know that you’d really like to buy a home, go on vacation, or put money aside for retirement or an emergency fund will probably land a little bit better than pointing out all the ways he’s being irresponsible or reckless with money.  Letting him know that you trust him could ignite his natural tendency to want to provide for and please you.  At the very least there won’t be any accusations for him to defend himself against, which means it’s likely the conversation won’t turn into an argument.

Money issues can bring out the best and worst in people.  However, the willingness to communicate, trust, and compromise are essential to creating both emotional and financial intimacy in a relationship!

 

Comments?  Questions? Let us know below!  We love hearing from you!

 

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