Roses Are Red, Don't Let Your Finances Make You Blue
by Meredith Morris
February 4, 2020 .3 min read
Chocolates, flowers, dinner, dessert and a nice glass of wine -- all staples of a great Valentine’s day. It’s a perfect time to reflect on your relationship, show your partner how much you care for them, and look towards the future. But, what about using this opportunity for openness with your partner to talk about money?
A recent survey found that 36% of couples say money causes the most stress in their relationship. What’s even more interesting is that younger couples (age 18-54) were almost twice as likely to cite money as their top stressor.
This Valentine’s day we challenge you to have an open conversation with your partner around money. Whether you’re in the early stages of love or have been together a long time, there is always an opportunity to have a deeper conversation around your finances.
How do you bring up the conversation in a new relationship?
I get this question so often, and it’s not exactly the easiest to answer. It takes some courage to bring up the subject of money, and that doesn’t mean that you have to jump in with,
“Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask you, how much money do you have anyway?”
Easing into it is always a good idea. Something like,
“We’re beginning to get to know each other, and the one thing so many people don’t talk about when they’re getting to know each other is money. Let’s talk a little bit about it and how we feel about it.”
This way, it’s not necessarily about numbers but more about emotions and feelings. It may also come up more naturally, like discussing how you grew up or learning a little bit more about their past. Often times these conversations are a great segway into asking how they feel about money.
Have you and your partner discussed how you grew up thinking about money?
How we experienced money growing up has a huge impact on us as adults. Some of us may have grown up comfortably, while others watched their parents struggle for every dollar made. Sometimes growing up without money can make us more of a spender when we have it, or it can scare us into saving every penny for the fear of it running out.
No matter how you grew up and view money, it’s important that you are open about this with your partner.
Do you know how your partner thinks about debt?
With the total U.S. consumer debt being at $13.86 trillion, it’s likely that either you or your partner are in some sort of debt. Whether it’s student loan debt, a mortgage, or credit card debt, you should both know where you stand before you combine your finance. What kind of debt are you ok with and what are you not?
Some signs that your partner is closed off, or hiding something around their financial situation are:
If they won't discuss how they got into debt,
If they won't talk about what their feelings are about having debt. Or how having this debt makes them feel?
If they won't discuss with you what their plans are in regards to how they are going to address it and pay it off.
Are there situations where having debt is reasonable? If so, how can you know when to be okay with it or not?
If the debt was acquired because of a specific event, like a medical or sudden job / relationship change then it could be considered a one time event and not a pattern.
If they can have a plan they are working towards eliminating the debt.
If they can demonstrate that they have indeed been paying it off.
If they are open, transparent and clear about the debt and their current relationship to money.
If they are willing to keep finances separate until the debt is paid off or you come up with a plan together to pay it off.
While this conversation is uncomfortable for anyone, it will put your mind at ease knowing that you are both being transparent about where you are with your money, what boundaries you have, and where you hope to be in the future.
What if you don’t bring up the conversation before making big steps in the relationship?
Often times we do not think deeply about our financial safety when we fall in love and marry. We think that the love we have for our partner will protect us from hardship or, at the very least through tough financial times. But it doesn’t always work out that way, does it?
Did you know that 1 in 5 women experience post-divorce poverty? These are all women who thought their partners would protect them as well. We cannot predict the future, and as much as we don’t want to think about it while we are happy and in love, it’s important that we protect ourselves and have these tough conversations while we still can.
Rich or poor, talking about money is never easy. Challenge yourself to be open and transparent with your partner and see how this conversation can take you to a new place in your relationship.
Meredith is a Philadelphia native with a bachelor’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Duquesne University and has worked in digital marketing for over seven years. She’s passionate about writing to women to help them feel more confident in their financial lives.