After marriage, it doesn't take long to realize that happily ever after only happens in fairytales. No marriage is perfect, and couples disagree a lot. Although there are endless reasons why people in a relationship may argue, one of the most common causes is money. In fact, almost a third of married couples admit to fighting about finances at least once a month.1 That is not a surprising statistic when you learn that a recent study found almost three-quarters of couples have differing money management styles.1
If your true love is someone with poor money management skills, it can become the source for reoccurring fights and frustrations, but it doesn't have to break you or the relationship down. You can help your partner become smarter when making decisions about money using these six steps.
1. Find the Right Time and Speak With Your Partner
Conversations about money can sometimes tend to spiral into arguments. To help minimize this, select a private place to talk to with your partner to avoid distractions and any potential embarrassments. Choose a time when both of you are in a good mood, and neither have pressing plans. You may want to schedule the time and date beforehand with your significant other to avoid anyone from feeling ambushed.
2. Make It All About Facts, Not Feelings
Too often, discussions about money devolve into a blame game where both people walk away at the end accomplishing little more than making each other upset. You can help prevent this from happening by having concrete evidence of your spouse's poor money management and presenting the evidence without being accusatory. So, instead of shouting, "Did you think I wouldn't notice you spent $400 on a new driver last month?" or even, "Hon, I thought we would discuss large purchases together first," try, "Here is the bill for the credit card, did you spend $400 on a club?"
3. Work as a Team
It is important to let your significant other know that while you are already romantic partners, you need to be financial partners, too. If you are used to handling the finances alone, start working together on a budget and paying your monthly bills. You may find it beneficial to arrange a weekly or monthly financial meeting where you can discuss your family's spending habits, current debts, and also make financial plans for the future. Once your spouse understands the big picture, he or she may realize how their spending is putting your financial future at risk.
4. Forget the Mistakes and Celebrate the Little Victories
Adopting new money habits is difficult, and you shouldn't expect your partner to be able to make big changes overnight. Even if your significant other is completely on board with the new financial plan, you need to accept that he or she will probably occasionally make purchases you don't like. Instead of getting angry, take the time to address the reasons she wasn't able to stay on budget. Whatever you do, don't forget to encourage your spouse by congratulating him or her when they are able to stay on track.
5. Get Professional Assistance
Sometimes it is too tricky or emotional for a couple to work through their financial differences on their own. That is when it is a smart idea to speak with a financial advisor. A financial advisor can provide sound independent advice about money management without getting emotionally involved which can help avoid feelings of resentment.
6. Protect Yourself and Your Assets
Although you hope that your spouse's spending habits will improve, sadly this is not always the case. If you have already sincerely tried to help your significant other make smarter decisions about money, but failed, you need to protect yourself and your financial future. If you plan to remain together, you may be forced to set up private bank accounts, remove your spouse's name from shared credit cards and take full responsibility of paying bills.
Use these steps to guide your significant other into a healthier relationship with money, and a more satisfying personal relationship with each other.
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