More often than not, couples 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 reigns supreme).
I practice divorce mediation Nevada, which is a community property state. Try explaining that to the wife who’s been secretly sending money to her family in Asia. Or to the husband who insisted that the shares of stock he received as part of his retirement package belonged to him and not to his wife. Personally, I’ve experienced my own money language barrier with an ex-husband. 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 resolve some of the 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” in any search engine, and find something that fits your needs.
Second: DON’T HIDE YOUR SPENDING HABITS. I used to keep a 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.
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 paycheck inequality. It’s about finances. Period.
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. 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.
Although I’m sure you’re a terrific person, I’d rather not have to meet you sometime in the future to talk about divorce mediation!