Getting real about money and love 💑 💸 💭
We’ve established that talking about money sucks. It feels awkward at the best of times, and downright humiliating at the worst. If you’ve ever had to admit to how much credit card debt you’re actually in, listing all your decadent purchases from Matches as a not-so-viable excuse, you’ll know what we’re talking about. But, if you’re serious about making it work with your significant other, I’m afraid that ‘the talk’ is pretty much inevitable. Research shows that financial stress is often the reason for divorce, although this trend is, thankfully, slowly shifting. While there’s no clear-cut advice we can give on making your relationship last ‘til death do you apart (sorry), we’ve got some tips on keeping your finances and your romance afloat.
- Rip off the bandage. While ‘tell me about your budgeting habits’ doesn’t quite qualify as first-date sweet talk, it helps to get talking about money sooner rather than later. You don’t want to be three years into a relationship until you discover that you are financially incompatible. Perhaps he prefers to spend the vast majority of his income on dining and drinking out, while your student debts makes you feel uncomfortable in doing so (and you’d much prefer the option of Netflix and chill). The early, blissful days of a blossoming romance are the perfect time to find out a little more about your other half’s money habits without it being too loaded with awkwardness.
- Don’t make it an interrogation. While it’s important find out as much as you can about your partner’s relationship with money early on, it’s also just as wise to approach it in an organic way. Rather than making it feel like a job interview, you should introduce the touchy subject in a non-confrontational but matter-of-fact kind of way. Nobody likes feeling like they’re grilled on their spending, and talking about money can feel like opening up a can of worms, so take care with your phrasing. For example, if you’re watching a movie where the protagonists touch upon the subject of money, you could make an off-hand comment and let the conversation flow from there.
- Revisit the basics. This isn’t a ‘one and done’ kind of conversation. Money will be a part of your lives for as long as you decide to spend your time together. So, it’s important to be mindful of the fact that various changes— from career moves, to mortgages and having kids —will impact your financial status. That’s why it’s vital to reflect on your progress, your goals and your financial strategy in tandem.
- Pay attention to how you spend your time. Alexandra Killewald led a study that looked into the correlation between issues surrounding money and the rates of divorce. While she found that money per se wasn’t the root cause for divorce amongst couples married since 1975, what did play a part was whether the husband was employed full-time: the risk of divorce for an otherwise typical couple in the next year was 2.5% when the husband was employed full-time, compared to 3.3% when he was not. Pay attention to your work patterns, and make sure you’re both on the same page when it comes to time spent at work.
- Don’t make assumptions. This relates to the point above, but it’s important to stress that the person you got to know on your first date is not necessarily the same person five years down the line. It’s human nature to change tact, and our approach to finances is no exception. You might be certain that your beau is an expert in stocks and shares investments, because it comes across like he has it together, but, seriously, he may not have a clue. So, don’t just assume — ask!
Credit image: Giphy.