SIX REASONS COUPLES FIGHT ABOUT MONEY
by Jonathan Rich, Ph.D.
Part III: Solutions
Working out the financial differences between you and your partner
is not easy. It takes the skill of an attorney, psychologist, and
salesperson rolled into one. But, if you and your partner understand
a few basic principles, and consistently incorporate these principles
into your discussions about money, you can reach a new level of joy
and intimacy in your relationship, and you can keep money from coming
Principle #1: Keep in mind that you and your partner function
as a team. Even if you win an argument, youíve still lost, because
youíve chipped away at your relationship. Treat your partner and
your partnerís ideas with love and respect.
Principle #2: Donít assume that your partnerís behavior with money
is a message about you or your relationship. If you like a luxurious
lifestyle, you may see your partnerís frugal ways as a sign that
she doesnít care about you. If you have always watched your money
closely, you may feel like your partnerís spendthrift ways show a
lack of caring about your future. Remember that your partnerís financial
style probably developed long before you were in a relationship together.
Your goal is to find a way to comfortably work together. If you try
to find hidden, and often inaccurate, meanings behind your partnerís
behavior, youíll react with needless anger. To your partner, this
anger will seem to come out of ďleft fieldĒ and can erode the good
feelings between you.
Principle #3: Decide your future financial path together. Decide
where you want to go together and how to get there. Some people would
prefer to live frugally now, so that later in life they can cut back
on work, travel, and relax. Others want a moderate lifestyle both
now and later. Some might want to take a lot of big risks and weather
the ups and downs to have a chance at fame and wealth. The path you
picture is probably drawn from what you grew up with and how youíve
seen other people live.
By sharing your vision of the future with your partner, you can
better understand his or her ideas about money, and can find a course
that is workable for both of you.
Principle #4: Do your part to solve the problem. You have much
more control over your own behavior that over anyone elseís, including
your partnerís. Beyond the relationship aspects of money, there are
also practicalities Ė thereís just no way around the fact that you
have to have more income than outgo. Be creative about career and
lifestyle changes that can help you to come out in the black every
month, and be willing to consider your partnerís ideas.
Working out money problems with your partner takes lots of practice
and can be difficult. Psychotherapists and financial counselors can
provide invaluable assistance if you feel you canít go it alone.
Part I | Part
Rich, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, practicing in
Irvine, California. This article was adapted from his new self-help
Coupleís Guide to Love and Money.