Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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Love and Money - Comunication is Key

When couples get together, they're often attracted to their loved one's looks and personality. They have a spark, a knack for communicating with each other. They can laugh about the same things, and enjoy the same type of activities. They may anticipate a future together, sharing a home, having children, and growing old together. These happy couples often plan out their whole life together, but too many of them overlook one major issue that can often weaken or even destroy a relationship, money. Money concerns are often the source or a factor in major disagreements among couples.

It's important for couples to have the conversation about that often uncomfortable topic. Many consider the topic of money to be a taboo subject, and sometimes even more so when you are talking about it with the one you love. "If we truly love each other, then money shouldn't get in the way of our relationship." Many couples feel that trust is one of the most important aspects of a relationship, and often view that bringing up the subject of money might convey a lack of trust. Well, you may have agreed to stay together "for richer, or poorer." But who really wants the "poorer?" Money wouldn't be one of the major reasons for divorce if we really meant that part when we said our vows.

Money represents so much more than the numbers on your bank statement or the bucks in your pocket. Money may represent security, power, control, freedom, or your sense of self-worth. Your upbringing or past relationships can affect how you feel about money, how you spend it, and how you save it. When two people, from possibly two very different worlds, get together, it's vital that they find a common ground to build their life together. Even those from similar backgrounds will often find they have quite a different approach to how they handle their money, at least in some aspects.

The only way you'll gain a clear understanding about each of your goals and aspirations is if you talk about it. Becoming part of a couple doesn't mean you'll want to give up your personals dreams, and your partner won't want to give up their dreams, either. Many of those dreams will be directly related to having the money to make those dreams a reality. A clear understanding of the other's expectations will help both of you get to where you want to be, together.

Many couples find it difficult to see their relationship as a sort of business partnership. A business partnership? That takes all the romance out of it! Doesn't it? But that's exactly what it is, with love thrown into the mix. You have to be able to view the business side of a relationship; consider your financial resources, your expenditures, and your goals. Looking at your relationship from that angle may sound unromantic at first, but it helps to separate your emotions from your financial decisions. You may find that talking about money will be easier when you can look at money issues as money issues, and not as some sort of proof of your love for each other.

And, these days, money concerns are often even more complicated than they used to be. Generations of the past generally married younger, bought their first home together, stayed married for life more often, and usually only had children with each other. Gone are the days that couples married their high school sweetheart and built a life together. Many couples today marry after already having dealt with a divorce, having children, or building up assets of their own. These additional influences can make it even more vital to effectively communicate about concerns regarding money.

For example, couples recovering from divorce are often more cautious the next time around. They may have experienced first-hand how money issues can cause a relationship to sour. They may be hesitant to combine resources in their next relationship, may be more secretive about their personal financial situation, or may be more suspicious of their partner's financial activities. They may also be more likely to insist on a pre-nuptial agreement for their next marriage. Also, divorcees tend to put a much higher emphasis on financial compatibility in their next relationship, especially if money issues were a factor in their divorce. Understanding each other's fears and needs is a starting point to overcome past relationship issues about money.

Couples in which one or both already have children also presents additional money concerns. If you're a parent, you know how expensive it can be to raise kids. The children are your responsibility, financially and otherwise. A person with no children of their own may experience a kind of "sticker-shock" when they enter into a relationship with someone who has kids. It's important for both partners to understand the financial commitment to raising children, including any costs for child-support, health care, food, clothing, education, as well as entertainment, clubs, or sports you want your child to be involved in. Communicate the needs of the kids to each other, to prepare both of you for the expected cost of raising children.

Couples who marry later in life tend to have already built up some of their own assets, which may also complicate things. Some couples will have two of everything when they marry; two houses, two bank accounts, two investment accounts, two dogs. Well, the two dogs shouldn't be a problem, but the two houses may be a problem if you plan to live together. As far as the bank and investment accounts, well, that's for the two of you to decide. You may choose to combine them or keep them separate, but it's important that both have a common understanding about how to deal with personal assets that were acquired before the marriage.

Couples with different money management styles, spending habits, or saving habits may often find it difficult to reach a common ground. The one who puts an emphasis on their future security may feel resentment at the other for spending too frivolously. Or, the one who likes to "live it up" may feel like the other is too stingy or trying to control them. This can lead to arguments about things that have nothing to do with money, eventually becoming an attack on personal attributes, rather than resolving the money concerns that started the disagreement. Keep these types of discussions factual, and not emotional. You'll need to reach some sort of agreement that works for both of you. Compromise is needed; you must both be able to do what is financially important to each of you, even if it's to a lesser degree.

Concerns regarding money even come up for couples who are starting out fresh, with no previous marriages, no children, and few assets. There may be disagreement about who's income pays for what, how much spending money each person should have, whether to save for or use credit for purchases, and who has the final word on major financial decisions. Discuss these important concerns before they become a big issue. It will be easier for each of you to accept your financial role in the relationship when both of you have a clear understanding of what your partner expects.

Whatever your situation, communicate with your partner. Too many enter into a marriage or long-term relationship without a clear understanding of the financial needs of their partner, as well as their own financial needs. You can eliminate, or at least reduce, conflicts about your finances when the two of you can respect each other's goals, desires, and fears concerning money. Reducing that source of conflict will allow you to focus on the things that really brought you together. No matter what, you can always make more money, but it's not so easy to replace a lost love. Don't let your relationship suffer from money matters.
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Monday, 14 October 2019

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