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 between you.

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 II

Jonathan Rich, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist, practicing in Irvine, California. This article was adapted from his new self-help book, The Coupleís Guide to Love and Money.

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