Are these Money Issues Sabotaging Your Relationship?

We all have our own money personalities and preferences. Indeed, your financial values and habits might even clash on occasion with those of someone with whom you are having a relationship. These differences in money styles don’t have to ruin a relationship. With understanding and effort, it’s possible to work through them and have a successful relationship — and successful household finances.

Photo by Pixel Drip via Flickr.

Unfortunately, though, many of us don’t start out on the right foot with money in our relationships. Sometimes, we even make money decisions that actively sabotage what should be a very important relationship. Here are some of the issues that can sabotage your relationship – and put your finances at risk:

Financial Infidelity

Surveys repeatedly indicate that people lie to their partners about money. Self Magazine and Today.com conducted a recent poll that indicates that almost one-half of people lie to their significant others when it comes to money. That’s a big deal. Not only can lying about finances lead to troubles with money down the road, but it can also be an indication of other problems in a relationship.

This so-called financial infidelity points to non-financial problems in a relationship, including issues of trust and control. A relationship without trust, or a relationship in which there are control issues because one partner is hiding information from the other, is not a healthy relationships. Financial infidelity is often one of the symptoms of larger, and more devastating, problems in a marriage.

Lack of Shared Goals

Are you on the same page as your partner when it comes to money? Do you both have the same goals for retirement? Do you have the same feelings about debt? This is an important consideration. You need to be able to work together toward the same end. If you aren’t on the same page with money, it can lead to misunderstandings and mistakes.

One of my biggest mistakes was not communicating effectively with my husband about our next steps financially. We were both working toward different goals, and frustrated because neither of us felt we were getting anywhere. As a result, we were unhappy, and our finances were in disarray. Those lines of communication are vital if you want to progress.

On top of that, you need to have shared goals. Your relationship should be about working together to achieve the things you both want. If you are constantly at odds about what should happen next, and if you plan together for the future, you will have serious difficulties when it comes to money, and when it comes to a fulfilling life as a couple.

Debt – And No Plan to Pay It Down

One of the biggest stressors on a relationship is debt. When you have debt, you lack financial freedom. This spills over into other areas of your life as well. You don’t have the resources to do what you want because they are being diverted to interest payments. Additionally, it’s easy to feel out of control when you have little say in where your money is going. Debt reduces your ability to control your own finances.

All of this stress weighs on people. It’s easy to snap at your loved ones when you are anxious about debt. It’s even worse when you don’t have a plan to pay it off. If you are stuck in a position where you don’t know what will happen next, or how you will pay off your debt, it can strain your relationship, as well as your finances.

You can ease some of the pressure by creating a plan to pay off your debt. As a couple, make a shared goal to pay down your debt. Consider what you can do, together, to pay off your debts and improve your finances. You’ll feel better about your situation, and about your relationship. As you continue to make progress in paying down your debt, you are likely to repair your relationship and make progress in that area as well.

Money and Relationships

There’s a reason that so many people cite money as a reason for breakups. Money is an emotional issue, and how you feel about your finances can influence how you feel in your relationships. The way you and your partner handle money can provide insights into the way you interact with each other. It’s amazing how often the way you deal with money mirrors the way you deal with your significant other.

Additionally, your financial situation can be a factor in how you feel about your life, and your relationship. If you feel as though you can’t trust your partner with money, it’s likely you don’t trust your partner in other ways as well. Additionally, the stress and anxiety related to money takes its toll mentally and emotionally, and impacts how you behave toward your partner and others around you.

Pay attention to money, and realize that there are issues that can impact your relationship. Money problems rarely remain confined to the pocketbook.

About the Author

By , on Jun 14, 2012
Miranda Marquit
Miranda is a professional personal finance journalist. She is a contributor for several personal finance web sites. Her work has been mentioned in and linked to from, USA Today, The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. She also has her own personal finance blog: Planting Money Seeds.

Leave Your Comment (One Comment)

  1. Chris Lawson says:

    Great article!

    I have found that having a plan to eliminate debt is a critical step for relieving the financial stress of married couples and unmarried couples who are looking to get more serious.

    You hit the nail on the head when you mention the emotional component of money. I believe that money is a lot more about emotion than it is about math. When someone is focused on “debt” their focus is on a heavy, amorphous, burden that is always with them that they have no control over. Once a plan is in place that clearly outlines the scope of the problem, what steps need to be taken, and exactly when the debt will be paid off, focus is instantly shifted from something they can’t control “debt” and placed on something they can control, the plan. This shift in focus often provides immediate and significant relief.

    One final note: when the person with the debt has a clear plan with respect to handling the debt, it creates a much different conversation with their partner. The partner without debt now has a choice to help, not an obligation to help. This simple change in perspective makes all the difference in maintaining a harmonious relationship.

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