Money has and does come between even the happiest of couples. While one half may consider the almighty dollar to be the symbol of a safe and predictable future, the other will see it as a ticket to immediate happiness, to be exchanged for pleasure, status or luxury. In the face of otherwise blissful compatibility, a financial chasm can seem unconquerable, but is it really? Well, it depends on whether you can build a bridge.
Establishing our values
The easiest way to avoid surprises down the track is to declare what’s important to us up front. If saving for the future is more important to you than having high end possessions, then announce this position early on in the relationship. Conversely, if you live hand to mouth and are forever chasing a credit card debt, tell your partner plainly that you don’t have a financial plan. This way you’ve eliminated the element of surprise. The good news is that we can all move towards a healthier attitude to money – sometimes all we need is a reason. If we want the same things in the long run, we have at least established a motivation for change.
Stay on track, stay together
We need to remember that relationships suffer when values diverge, so a part of any talk around finances is to state clearly where you want to be, and how you’re going to get there. Assuming you both want the same things, working conjointly towards a goal places responsibility with both of you. A healthy long-term relationship requires more than two individuals working independently to achieve a shared goal: it needs a partnership. As soon as you assign blame or allow resentment to build over money, you are sowing the seeds of disharmony. If you skip over this entire unpleasant process and instead go straight for a solution, you’ll have saved time, emotional energy, and maybe even your relationship.
Everyone needs a budget
Anybody who says they don’t need to budget is in dire need of a budget. And the quicker you sit down with pen and paper the better and nut out a plan, the less likely you are to argue about money down the track. A plan where both of you are in agreement over your earning and saving potential will be mutually empowering and potentially exciting when you think about what you can achieve. Honesty is crucial here – this is not the time to hide income or debt. Lay it all out on the table and resolve to come up with a plan to pay off debt, allocate discretionary spending and work towards a savings goal.
Miserly can just mean miserable
We can’t do all of our living for the future or we’ll form the distinct impression that it may never arrive. Penny-pinching is often seen as an admirable trait, but refusing to part with cash can also be a denial of the small pleasures that often break from the monotony of daily living. A nice meal, a thoughtful gift, a night out with friends – this is the stuff we look back on, and you can’t buy these memories in your later years. Then there’s the issue of false economy. Oftentimes, buying cheap means replacing more often, and this is true of clothes, furniture and even vehicles.
Remember why you’re together
Money may govern how we live, but it doesn’t govern how we love. Life would be measurably more boring if we were entirely rational creatures, and we would surely be without romance. It is this fact that we must try to remember when we feel anger over money, or when that anger is directed at us. If you can negotiate other aspects of your relationship without too much fuss, there’s no reason why this hurdle can’t be jumped also, unless one of you insists on being right. The overarching theme is that you insist on being together, and with this as the ultimate goal, money is no object.