Money can’t buy love, of that we are collectively sure. But does lack of money hinder love? Most people reading this are currently shaking their heads and thinking: “no, because I am not greedy”, or “well, maybe it hinders love for some but not in my case since money doesn’t factor into my choice of romantic partner”. It turns out that, even for non-greedy people or people who don’t care about financial matters, money plays a big part in their relationships.
Money Affects Us All
I think we can all agree that money, more specifically the lack of money, just seems to make every aspect of one’s life just that much more difficult. It seems to creep into every aspect of your life: affecting your job performance, your social life (or lack of one), and even your self-worth! But it just doesn’t stop there, it turns out that it has a severe impact on your love life as well.
Several independent research studies all across the country have been conducted and they all have one thing in common, that financial difficulties have a clear negative effect on marriages. Couples under extreme financial stress have lower levels of satisfaction in their relationships. And worse yet, a recent study published by the National Council on Family Relations found that arguments about finances are the number one predictor of divorce. That is a hugely impactful statement!
Couples under a financial strain tend to be more emotionally volatile. Some people become more irritable and testy, others become more withdrawn and keep more to themselves. Often, finger pointing on who is to blame for the financial difficulties lead to arguments and hurt feelings. Needless to say, it is a difficult situation from all angles.
So, what can be done about this?
Obviously making more money is one solution, but it is definitely not that simple. And even if you do have a sudden cash windfall, that will not solve the underlying issues. It all boils down to communication. No longer fighting about money is not feasible, but learning to have those financial discussions in a more productive way is something that comes with practice. Learning how to compromise and communicate effectively can help couples work together towards a common goal. Here are a few things to keep in mind the next time a money fight arises.
• Is Money the Real Issue Here?
Often, an argument might be about money on the surface but fighting is rarely about an object or a thing. A fight is most always about emotions. Feelings are engaged. So, when a fight arises about money, stop and take a minute to figure out what feelings have been triggered? Do you feel like your control was taken away? Or perhaps you feel like you were treated unfairly because your spouse didn’t consult you before spending? Whatever the real issue is, discuss how you feel about the situation outside of the actual money problem. It is much easier to fix a problem when you look at what actually needs fixing.
• Talk More, Fight Less:
Most couples wait until an issue about money has come up before they talk about the problem. And then, since they are in crisis mode, the talk is more of a fight than an open discussion. Set aside time with your spouse to talk about money matters on a regular basis: once a week, every two weeks, or even every day. The more you can discuss openly with your partner, the more you will find yourselves on the exact same financial page.
• Understand The Other Side:
Without getting into stereotypes, studies have actually found that men and women treat money differently. Women tend to need more security and like to save and have money for emergencies. While, on the other side, men are more risk takers and are able to spend for potential greater return. Understanding that both ways of treating money are equally valuable is key to finding compromise.
• Find Some Ground Rules:
One of the keys to finding that perfect middle ground is establishing some common ground rules. Calling them “rules” sometimes rubs people the wrong way. Call them guidelines, call them “keys to a successful marriage”, call them whatever you wish. The important thing is that you establish them together and that you both agree to them. One common example that is helpful in some situations is a guideline such as: each of you has a certain amount of “free” money per paycheck. That amount that each of you can spend on frivolous things, like eating out or luxury items, without consulting the other.
No matter which of these above-mentioned points work for you, the important thing is to be working towards something together. The minute both sides of the couple beginning to work financially in the same direction, you will be surprised how easy finances start to become.