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4 Arguments Couples Have Over Money and How to Avoid Them

Shift your money conversations from destructive to constructive by merging goals and expectations

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It’s true that most couples will disagree or argue over various things, but there’s one topic that tops the list when it comes to causing a lot of damage to a relationship: 

Money.

It’s one of the leading causes of divorce among married couples, and a topic many couples avoid discussing altogether. Naturally, the more positive communication a couple has about their finances the healthier their relationship will be. A 2017 study by Ramsey Solutions, a leading company in financial education, revealed that 54% of survey respondents who indicated they had a great marriage talked daily or weekly about their finances.

Think back to the last conversation you had with your significant other about finances. How did it go? Was it a positive discussion, or a stressful one?

Here are 4 common reasons couples argue about money, and some tips on how to avoid them:

Different Expectations

Couples who come together to share life often have similar goals. If not, that alone can be a source of a lot of stress and discontent. Hopefully, you got to know each other well enough beforehand to know if your life goals are aligned. But just because you have similar goals doesn’t mean you share the same expectations on how to achieve them. It’s common for individuals in a relationship to assume that, because they have the same goals as their partner, they’ll both agree on how to go about reaching them. This is a dangerous assumption.

How to avoid: Communication. This will be a recurring theme in this article, but it cannot be overemphasized. Whether you’re just starting a life together, or have been together for years, set aside a specific time to discuss your expectations and ideas on how you plan to reach your goals. By creating a plan together now, you’ll save yourselves a ton of stress later.

Debt

It’s not surprising that among all the arguments a couple may have over money, debt is

is near the top of the list. The more debt you take on, the more stress you bring into your relationship. Debt can come in two different ways: 

  1. Mutually acquired debt, which is debt that you both enter into together.
  2. Debt you bring into the relationship. This could be student loans, medical bills, car loans and so on.

How to avoid: For mutually acquired debt, it comes back to communication. Before making any significant purchase, discuss it at length. Do the math, and make sure you can afford to take on the debt. This way you won’t also take on stress. Remember, stress strains all relationships. 

If either of you are bringing personal debt into the relationship, you have to be 100% transparent about it in the beginning. Partnering with someone for life, only to later discover they have financial skeletons in the closet, can steer your relationships toward the rocks. Avoid potential catastrophe by being open and honest from the beginning. If you’ve already been together for a while but haven’t come clean about your debt, the sooner you do the better. Transparency now, or trouble later.

Power Play

It’s rare for couples to make the same amount of money. The bigger the difference in income, the greater potential for one of you to feel you have more leverage in the relationship. Oftentimes, the one who makes the most money tries to dictate spending priorities. While there may be a certain logic behind that line of thinking, it’s imperative that you both operate as a team.

How to avoid: Remember why you got together in the first place. Is it worth it to allow money to divide you? Also take into account what each of you bring to the relationship. Even if one of you makes more money, it could be that your partner may do more home repairs (thus saving you money,) cares for your children, or provides emotional support. There are many ways to bring value to a relationship, and money is only one.

No Financial Plan

I suppose no article about money would be complete without mentioning a budget. There’s a reason you hear it so much though, and that’s because it’s incredibly important. No matter what your goals are, if you have no plan you have chaos. With no clear direction, how can you get to where you want to go?  A budget is a plan. It’s a plan that will ensure you both operate on the same page and map your behaviors toward your shared goals.

How to avoid: If you’re thinking I’m about to bring up the importance of communication again, you’re right! One of the best ways to avoid future arguments about money is to sit down together and create a plan that you both will stick with. 

This is basic money management, and the couple that manages together stays together.

Money isn’t the only thing that will keep you happy, but poor money management and communication can lead to a breakdown in your relationship. You love each other, right?

So, the work you put into this will be worth it.

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