Part 1, Part 2
How do you manage your finances as a couple? Do the two of you argue about money? I have found that if a couple argue about money, they often have issues around sex and control. So, who tends to make all the decisions in your relationship, who is in charge or in control? And are your values and beliefs around money so different that you are considering breaking up?
I hope to help you gain some clarity so that you can perhaps have more fruitful conversation about your financial affairs with your partner or spouse.
I have found that the most seemingly 'together' couples can still find it difficult to communicate with each other about money. They may have no trouble talking about any other subject, but avoid talking about their finances until there is some sort of a financial crisis.
Not talking about the state of your finances may not seem much of problem if...
However, all that can change - there may be a slow increase in irritations about your expenditures or there is a sudden change in your circumstances. Either way you are now dealing with money issues in your relationship.
When there is a shift in your circumstances that has an impact on your financial stability. It can suddenly throw up a whole new set of relationship challenges which you may not have been prepared for.
Here are some examples of the kind of changes you may well face during the life-time of your relationship or marriage that have an impact on your household budget:
These kind of circumstances can lead to a complete shift in the dynamics of a couple relationship. For example a partner who loses income can suddenly feel very vulnerable. I have seen the most assertive and eloquent individuals in distress because they had no idea on how to talk to their partner or spouse about their fears.
Your household budget and in particular debt can be a huge source of marital strife. Of course it doesn't matter if you are married or not - if the two of you are in a committed relationship and one of you has a debt that can no longer be serviced, it is likely to cause the both of you considerable stress.
A personal debt may be manageable as long as there is enough money in the kitty whilst both of you contribute to the general household pot in an agreed way. However, if your circumstances change and/or you are secretive about your personal financial affairs, there is potential for the two of you to fall out over money.
Therefore there is every reason to learn to talk about money early in your relationship and be able to discuss all aspects of your financial affairs.
If you can have these conversations about your financial affairs regularly, in a non-judgmental and calm manner, you are very likely to be able to come to a suitable arrangement when you hit a rough patch. It is therefore best to start talking early - when all is well - just to get into the habit and to get to know and understand each other's attitude towards money.
If you are in debt now and you are no longer managing to keep up with your payments, please do not stick your head in the sand. I so want you to deal with the problem as soon as you can. I would hate the idea that your financial problems and the stress that comes with it is going add an unnecessary burden to your relationship.
I really hope that the two of you can work together on sorting it all out. Blaming each other isn't going to resolve the problem, will only lead to defensiveness and secrecy, and wastes your precious energy.
So, where do you start? See part 2: How to talk about money and financial infidelity
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