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Minimize Financial Stress in Your Relationship

How to help smooth out the financial conflict romantic relationships can bring.

Woman and man sitting on a sofa looking at a computer.

Money can be a top stressor in many relationships, but you don’t have to let it ruin your happiness. “Your different money styles can be harmonized through discussion and creating an organized plan to handle your money,” says Terry Savage, coauthor of The New Love Deal: Everything You Must Know Before Marrying, Moving In, or Moving On. “Or they can be the basis for every fight you’ll ever have for the rest of your relationship.”

When couples had financial arguments at least once a week, marriages were 30 percent more likely to end in divorce. Here are five strategies to minimize financial stressors after you’ve found your mate:

Q: What happens if spending priorities between you and your partner feel mismatched?

A: It can create feelings of resentment, which is why it’s crucial to understand each other’s objectives.

Solution: Recognize your daily spending style. Do you succumb to smaller impulse buys while your partner spends only on big-ticket items? Often, daily spending priorities don’t align day to day. Even something as simple as one person bringing lunch to save money while the other buys lunch at work to save time can create feelings of resentment. Understanding each other’s goals (e.g., time spent versus money saved) makes it easier to move forward. Also, decide on your personal approach — separate versus joint accounts, for example, as well as individual responsibilities to your household’s short- and long-term financial health.

Q: Why is it important to discuss long-term goals with your partner?

A: Being transparent about future spending helps keep your current budget in check.

Solution: Define long-term goals. Whether you’re looking to buy a house with a yard or saving up for a sabbatical trip around the world, discussing your major spending intentions with your partner is key. Once you’ve defined your financial dreams, work backward from there to better align your spending — and saving — styles.

Q: Does discussing your spending fears with your partner benefit the relationship?

A: Yes. Being honest about your financial fears helps cut down on long-term stress.

Solution: Fess up to spending fears. Financial fears, such as feeling burdened with a second mortgage or not being able to pay off school loans, can dictate your approach to how you spend. Often, these fears can stress out one partner without worrying the other — and add additional pressure on the relationship. It pays to open up. Although divulging your worries may be initially difficult, it can keep the relationship healthy in the long run, Savage says.

Q: What’s one way to stick to a monthly budget?

A: Write it down. Having your spending goals in writing makes it easier to stay within your budget each month.

Solution: Compromise on a monthly budget. When working out your monthly budget, be sure it includes both parties’ needs and goals. And don’t forget to write them down, says Savage. Agreements in writing — a budget along with a simple list of who pays which bills — allows both partners to feel invested in the relationship and cuts down on arguing in the months ahead.

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