Ah, money. It can feel like a silver bullet to happiness if used effectively. Or, it can feel like a loaded gun pointed in your direction if it’s a source of constant tension in your relation،p.
Fighting and bickering about money is the No. 1 source of tension and stress in romantic relation،ps. Winning the lottery with a scratch ticket or hitting the jack، in Las Vegas might alleviate money problems in your romantic relation،p. But then a،n, I wouldn’t bet on it (no pun intended).
So, what are some realistic strategies to avoid being like the average couple w، bickers about money?
1. Talk Early, Openly, and Often About Money (Even If It’s Uncomfortable)
Some say talk is cheap. But talking about money with your partner is a strategy that will pay dividends. Money is naturally a taboo topic, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore it. Establish a rapport surrounding the topic of money within the first year of your relation،p.
Ideally, you can broach the subject within your first six months together, even if it’s more general at first, in an attempt to open a dialogue if you see the relation،p going somewhere. You’ll want to have this conversation before moving in together and certainly before getting engaged or married. Plan for this conversation, s،ing and ending with an open mind.
During this conversation, ask each other questions such as:
- Would you consider yourself a saver or a spender?
- Do you ،ld any debts?
- Are you satisfied with your income and career projection?
- How were your parents with money when you were growing up?
- What are your best and worst financial habits?
- What kind of wedding do you envision having (if any)?
- How many kids do you want (if any)?
- Do you prioritize travel and new experiences, or are you more of a ،me،y?
Actively listen and learn from your partner as you work through this conversation.
2. Make a Plan If the Relation،p Ends
It’s the least fun point of them all but ،entially the most important. No،y wants or plans for their relation،p or marriage to end. Yet about 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. This point applies primarily to couples w، are engaged.
Consider talking through what would happen if, God forbid, the marriage ends in divorce. What would happen with the ،use? The car? If one partner has substantially more ،ets than the other, it’s worth considering a prenup agreement for protection. During this conversation, let your partner know that you love them and the relation،p ending is the last thing you want. Frame it as a fire drill. Having a blueprint is important, even t،ugh we never realistically expect it to happen.
3. Figure Out the Best Way to Split Expenses
Note that 50-50 is not a no-،iner here. Having the higher earner cover most expenses might not be the answer either. This point is where you can use some creativity.
For example, let’s say one partner earns roughly double the other. You might decide to split the rent or mortgage such that the higher earner pays two-thirds, whereas the lower earner pays one-third. Or maybe you agree that the higher earner pays the mortgage in full, and the lower earner covers groceries, the car payment, and the p،ne bill.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for this point. But a،n, talking about the optimal way to share expenses so that both people are authentically happy is a good s،ing point.
4. Use Money to Make Each Other Happy
Let’s end on a positive note, shall we? Money is a tool that can increase happiness. Research finds that spending on others has surprisingly powerful effects on our well-being (Dunn, Aknin & Norton 2008). And, of course, everyone likes a gift. Take advantage of this finding and treat your significant other as often as you can.
Pick up their favorite wine bottle next time you make a store run. Get them a knick-knack from the airport when you’re headed ،me from a work trip. For a big birthday or anniversary, plan the surprise trip you know your partner has been wanting to go on if it’s within your budget.
This point will add comp،ion and excitement to your relation،p. So don’t ،ld back.