Tesco Magazine has tackled the thorny issue of dealing with finances in relationships in its February 2016 ‘Love is …’ edition.
‘Spare your money blushes’ asks a number of experts for advice to help navigate some of the awkward conversations around money. BeLoveCurious Founder Helen Rice is asked how she helps couples to manage difficulties that arise when there is a significant imbalance in the amount of money available to each partner. This can arise through differences in salary, where one person stays home to look after the children while the other works, or when one has benefited financially from their family background or an inheritance for example. For many couples, the imbalance alone can be a source of tension and argument. However, the economic divide can also be about more than just the money – it can provide a basis for a real or perceived imbalance in each person’s status and value in the relationship too.
Helen’s approach is to work with the couple to find ways to minimise the day-to-day experience of any imbalance and to develop their understanding of each other so they can have those tricky discussions about money-matters without it escalating into a row.
Helen expands on some of the key points raised in the article with these 4 key ways to make money talk easy:
1 Share decision-making
Every couple is different in terms of what’s acceptable, but something everyone can do is agree to share all spending decisions that affect both parties – for example how much to spend on furniture for the home, or where to go and how much to spend on holiday. The process of give-and-take can be challenging of course, since either or both of you will have to give up something of your position, but relationships are all about negotiation and cooperation, so why should discussing money matters be any different?
2. Have some ‘fun money’
If one partner has a great deal more disposable income than the other, it may be useful to have a ‘fun money pot’ that’s used for treats together – both can put the same amount into this or perhaps the higher earner contributes more. The point is that both parties feel comfortable with their own and their partners contribution – and both of you get to enjoy the fruits of your joint effort together.
3. Suspend your judgement
Most conflict comes from thinking you’re right and your partner’s wrong. Yet these ideas of right and wrong are generally just ideas that have been instilled in us from an early age. As it’s likely that you both grew up in very different households with different attitudes and rules about money, being willing to discuss your stories about having/not having enough cash-to-splash and what it means to spend and save is the way to reach a better understanding of each other. Realising that your partner isn’t just being mean or spendthrift can help you offer a little more give and take and can pave the way to developing practical strategies that serve both your needs.
4. Be accepting
It may sound obvious, but just learning to accept that your partner earns more or less than you, and being happy that they are willing to let you contribute in the way that you do, is a significant step towards peace. No one is ultimately valued for their financial worth – especially in a loving relationship – so try to bring some focus onto what you are contributing and learn to value the collective effort of creating a life and a home together.