Partners sometimes speak different languages about money. Whether it’s due to gender, cultural differences, or paycheck inequality, divergent attitudes towards spending and saving can destroy a relationship. In fact, according to many experts, it’s the second leading cause for divorce in the United States (infidelity, however, still comes in first).
I practice divorce mediation Nevada, which is a community property state. Try explaining that to the wife who’s been secretly sending “her” money to family in Asia. Or to the husband who insists that the shares of stock he received as part of his retirement package belong to him and not to his wife. Personally, I learned a tough lesson about financial communication that led to the end of my first marriage. So, I’m going to serve as your money language interpreter, and offer a few tips for understanding “moneyspeak” in a way that might help you if you’re experiencing financial conflicts in your relationship.
First (and ugliest): CREATE A BUDGET. See where the money comes from and see where it goes. This isn’t about judging your partner; it’s about making a list. If you need help to get started, simply search “budget” on your computer or phone and find something that fits your needs.
Second: DON’T HIDE YOUR SPENDING HABITS. I used to keep a pair of scissors in my closet to cut off the price tags before my ex-husband got home. Not the best idea I’ve ever had… If your partner is a saver, your spending habits will be magnified and once you’re caught, that $100 pair of boots might cost you thousands in divorce court. (I hope not!)
Third: DISCUSS FINANCES TOGETHER. Your relationship is more than emotional. It’s also a business. So, schedule a monthly Board of Directors meeting to go over profit and loss. Talk about what worked, and about what needs improvement. Make a plan.
Fourth: CHECK YOUR EGO. If your partner is simply better at paying the bills, let her pay them. This isn’t about control, or power, or who has the greater paycheck. It’s about finances. Period. Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses is helpful in practically every situation, especially when it comes to money.
Fifth: HAVE SOME FUN. You both work hard. I am a firm believer in rewards — just try not to reward yourself unilaterally. If you go on an annual ski weekend with the guys, your partner should be able to have an equivalent reward. If you’re a shoe-and-purse-aholic, your mate ought to be able to add a couple of fancy new clubs to his golf bag.
See where I’m going with this? Financial decisions in a relationship work better if they’re unanimous. Money issues should be discussed openly, frequently, and without judgment. Make the effort to learn each other’s language about money and, more importantly, work towards an understanding.
Following any or all of these steps won’t guarantee continued harmony at home. Hopefully, though, you’ll cross financial conflict off your list.
If you need my help, please let me know.