When we look at the marriage customs of our ancestors, marriage was often a business relationship that brought two families together. Now that love is the foundation of many 21st century relationships, why does MONEY seem to contribute so often to relationship conflict? Mine, Yours, Ours Sometimes, when each partner works and they can't agree on financial issues, they decide to split the bills down the middle or allocate them out in some other fair and equitable manner. Once the bills are covered, each partner can spend what they have left as they see fit.
It sounds like a reasonable plan, but the process often builds resentment over the individual purchases made. It also divides the spending power, eliminating much of the financial value of marriage.
How to Bridge the Gap: Develop a pre-approved purchase agreement (i.e. purchases below a certain amount are discretionary; purchases above $500 are to be discussed). Be a check and balance for each other.
Debt From school & car loans to credit cards and gambling habits, most people come to the relationship with financial baggage. If one partner has more debt than the other, or worse yet one partner is debt free, the sparks can start to fly when discussions about income, spending, and debt servicing come up. How to Bridge the Gap: make it a goal to live debt free; mutually develop a plan for paying down debt regardless of initial ownership. Once paid down, make it a goal to pay credit cards off monthly. For those who aren't married, knowing what you are about to get yourself into can help you decide how to deal with it. If you just can't come to an agreement, but your heart won't let you walk away, a prenuptial agreement may be an option.
Power Play Power conflicts often occur in the following scenarios:
- He works and she doesn't
- He's unemployed and she's working
- One partner earns more than the other
- One extended family has money and the other does not
When these situations are present, the money earner (or the one who makes the most money) may have a tendency to want to dictate the spending priorities. Although there may be some rationale behind is idea, it is still important that both partners cooperate as a team!
How to Bridge the Gap: The power play issue can get ugly quickly!! Few things build resentment faster than being made to feel inferior. If you've got the cash, you need to be sensitive about how you present spending decisions. If you don't have the money, you need to be prepared for the stress and tension that is almost inevitable, even in good relationships. The Bottom Line Like many relationship problems, lack of communication is often the underlying issue in money-management conflicts. Challenges aside, getting married can have serious financial advantages. It is a great way to double your income without doubling your expenses. If you can synchronize your goals, you and your partner can reach them much more quickly than working alone!