- Financial stresses
- House stress
- The in-laws
- Inability to have children
- Differences in parenting philosophies
- Unwillingness to have kids
- She’s let herself go
- Division of household responsibilities
- Sex frequency
Note: These were the top 10 problems listed by men. We were unable to find a similar list of women’s top 10 relationship issues but we believe they would be similar.
Notice what’s listed as #2?
Did you notice that #2 on the list is financial stresses? This underscores what we have long believed, which is that financial issues can be very problematic whether you’re married or in a relationship. In most cases, each person will have his or her feelings about money and how it should be spent and saved. One person may be the queen of frugal while the other is Mr. big spender. It’s not only important to learn how to compromise on big issues such as when to buy a car or which model to buy, it’s equally important to learn how to agree on the small stuff. If the two of you are unable to reach satisfactory compromises and are bickering or quarreling constantly about money, you could see the relationship fall apart or the marriage end in divorce.
The #1 money mistake
The biggest money mistake that many couples make is not being honest with one another. For example, if one of you feels badly about his or her finances, they may want to just hide the mess. This can be especially a problem if the other one of you is doing well financially. If you’re the one that has the money mess, you have to remember that whether it’s a marriage or relationship it needs to be a true partnership. If you won’t discuss your financial problems about your debts or spending, that’s actually the same as lying. You need to be willing to put every detail about your financial picture on the table. If the two of you don’t tackle them as a team, the problems are only going to get worse over time. It’s also important that the person who is not having financial problems not criticize the one who is. You should be willing to listen to your partner’s story and then discuss ideas as to how the you of you could turn the situation around
Mistake #2 – Letting emotions get out of control
There is no question about the fact that money matters can easily become emotional matters. Most of us work very hard for our money and can become frightened if we feel that our financial well-being is being jeopardized. And when emotions get hot, it’s easy to say things that we either didn’t mean or later wish we hadn’t said. One good piece of advice is to not ambush your partner by suddenly bringing up something negative about your finances. If you need to discuss money matters with your spouse or partner, agree as to some stress-free time when you could sit down and discuss things with cool heads. You might even treat this as a business meeting.
Mistake #3: Not sharing all the details
It’s a mistake not to discuss every detail of your finances. This would include your income, debts and spending. The best way to share all those details is to sit down and create a budget. The reason for this is because in order to make a budget, you need to first track all of your spending. Here’s where honesty really becomes important. If the two of you are going to create a joint budget, it’s critical that both of you know exactly where your money’s going. And the only way you can know that is for each of you to track your spending for probably 30 days, then sit down and divide your expenses into categories. Once you’ve done this, you can then have a discussion about how you’ll allocate your money in each of your categories in the future.
Mistake #4 – Failure to communicate
Even if you’ve never seen the classic Paul Newman movie Cool Hand Luke, you’ve probably at least heard the famous line used by Strother Martin, “what we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” This can also be a failure when it comes to finances. The biggest mistake that many couples make is to not discuss money until there are financial problems. This is the backwards way to do it. Communicating about money regularly when there are no problems is the best way to keep out of trouble.
Mistake #5: Failing to set financial goals
If the two of you can sit down and talk about money in a fairly cool and rational way that’s a good start to resolving financial issues. However, you need to set definite financial goals on which the both of you agree. And these need to be concrete, such as “we will pay $400 extra on that credit card debt each month.” It’s also good to have long-term goals and you must be able to agree on them as well. If the two of you list your financial goals and find that one of you wants to sail around the Caribbean for a year, while the other wants to save to make a down payment on a house, you have a serious problem that needs to be addressed.
If the two of you find that you can’t agree on how you will save and spend your money, you may need some independent counseling. You should be able to easily find a financial counselor in your area or you might try consumer credit counseling. The important thing is to get the aid of an unbiased third party who can help you eliminate your money mistakes and reach agreement on your goals.
Finally, here’s a fun video from Vanguard titled ‘First Comes Love, Then Comes Reality” about couples and their finances.