Talking about money is something that we don’t do enough. We clam up, we get embarrassed or defensive, and we often avoid the topic at all costs. Which is ridiculous— especially considering how important it is. Time and time again, studies show that money isn’t just the biggest cause of stress in a relationship— it’s actually the biggest cause of stress in the whole damn country. So it’s something that you and your partner should be able to talk about. Try not to get nervous and worry too much about it, the key is to wade in slowly and you should be fine. And things probably seem really clear to you about how money should be. But remember, not everyone has the same view of money and it doesn’t signify the same thing to everyone.
“Studies show that when it comes to money, men and women often have different views,” Psychology Today explains. “Women see it as a sign of security and stability. They like to save for emergencies and become worried when financial problems arise. Men take more risks with money and see money issues as a threat to their self esteem. Try to understand your partner’s perspective. Compromise is often essential. It is fine to disagree on some issues, but don’t let them get in the way of your overall goals as a couple.” There is definitely some truth in this, but that’s a really simplified version— it’s not always a gender divide and money issues can come up in homosexual relationships, too. Make sure to take your own partner’s personality into account.
But you do need to have the conversation— for yourself and for your relationship. Here’s what to keep in mind.
Bring It Up Early
You don’t need to reveal your bank account and salary on the first date, but you should start to feel out their attitudes toward money. Their atitude toward money is often representative of them as a person, so start getting an idea of that early. Are they reckless? Thrifty? Giving? These things might matter down the line.
Go In With Compassion
If your partner doesn’t have a lot of money, that’s often a source of shame— but having a lot of family money can be, too. Financial situations are often really effing complicated. You don’t know the complex background of their finances, so don’t judge a book by its cover. Wade in gently and explain that you’re just trying to make sure that you’re on the same page.
Work For A Compromise
If you feel like your partner is over— or under— spending, talk about your goals as a couple. Are you saving money to travel? Are you trying to get more quality time together and need date nights? Do you think the bills could be split more evenly? These are all issues that can have two different point of view, but where compromise is possible. So don’t panic and be clear about your point of view— and why it’s important to you. Then make room for your partner to share their point of view. Somewhere in the middle is a solution.
You can’t let awkwardness about money keep you from talking about it— it will cause so many problems down the line. So go in with empathy and start the conversation. Seriously, you need to nip it in the bud.