Money issues in relationships

Part 1, Part 2

Financial issues can be really tricky to discuss in a relationship. The reason is that it's tied up with our sense of security. So, you might find it helpful to read my page on Relationship Communication first.

It'll help if you're able to talk about difficult subjects in general, so that you can be a little more prepared for a tricky conversation about your finances.

Next you need to know - and be able to verbalise - what your specific concerns are exactly.  Statements like: "You're spending too much" or "I don't like your attitude" will only lead to your partner wanting to defend themselves. Before you know it, you'll be arguing about money yet again and nothing will get resolved.

So, what is it that you're worried about? Are you worried that your partner is...

... simply 'wasting' money
... overspending on the credit card
... generally 'frittering' money away

Or is there something else worrying you?

To help you out with this, let me give you some examples of what may be underlying your fears:

  • You're feeling insecure because you're not (or are no longer) financially independent
  • You're feeling insecure because of a major crisis in your relationship - such as your partner having an affair
  • Your job is no longer secure
  • You suspect or know that you're contributing more to the household bills than your partner
  • Your collective debts are getting out of control
  • You're no longer able to service your personal debts

When you can verbalise exactly what your concerns are about your finances, you can start to think about possible solutions...


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What exactly do you want to achieve?
- 4 strategies to help avoid arguments about money

Before having a conversation with your partner you need to think about what you consider to be the best solution. Bear in mind this needs to be one that leaves room to negotiate.  

At the same time, do remember that you can't change your partner, so try not to control him or her. Instead, present a sensible argument and let him/her mull it over and come up with some ideas of their own.

Here are a few examples of strategies that might help you both to manage your finances better:

  1. Have separate bank accounts as well as a joint account with direct debits for all the regular bills
  2. If you're a stay-at-home mum or dad, calculate your contribution to the general well-being of your family in terms of money and get a regular payment to reflect that
  3. If the two of you have been able to build up some savings, you may want to split that amount. You could make some of that available by way of individual saving accounts, rather than just one joint account
  4. Agree on the areas you both feel you can commit to spending less on. (One of the best and most fun Christmases I've had was when we agreed to spend no more than £10 on each other and buy as many presents as possible!)

Totally freaked out about your financial situation at the moment? Have a look at Marie Forleo's video - she has some great tips to help you feel calm and in control:

Credit card and dollars

7 kinds of financial infidelity

Does your partner know all there is to know about your personal finances? Or are you secretly squirrelling money away for a future 'project'? 

Are you totally open and honest with your partner? Or are you committing financial infidelity by...

  1. Secretly saving because you're planning to end the relationship? (There may be good reasons to do so of course, particularly if you're in an abusive relationship)
  2. Spending more money on yourself than you care to admit?
  3. Spending money on 'another' man or woman?
  4. Securing your future financially because you're concerned that your partner is spending too much?
  5. Creating a sense of safety because you worry that your partner may leave you?
  6. Being reluctant to admit how wealthy you really are - for whatever reason?
  7. Worrying about what your partner might do if he or she knew how much debt you've accrued?

Ideally you should be honest and upfront, so that the two of you can openly discuss your finances. Financial infidelity is devastating when it's discovered - your partner can rightfully think you've been leading a secret life.

You may get away with it for a while, but the chances are that he or she will find you out. At some point things will just not add up, with suspicions about either your behaviour or the finances themselves.

Your partner might become suspicious because of...

  • a chance comment from someone
  • a 'hidden' receipt a strange entry on a bank statement
  • a suspicious email or letter that doesn't make sense
  • an accumulation of 'stuff' that just doesn't add up

Your partner will most likely go on the hunt until they find sufficient evidence to confirm their suspicions. The discovery of your 'omissions' or outright lies will never come at a convenient moment!

Part 1, Part 2

Related Articles

How to Communicate Better as a Couple
Anger Management Counselling
How to Deal with Criticism
How to Say Sorry
How to Overcome Depression

Other Helpful Links

The Guardian - What's mine is mine
Free Printable Budget Worksheets

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Elly Prior

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