- Greg Cheney, PhD, LMFT
How to Resolve Money Disagreements in a Relationship
Money disagreements can arise in any relationship, but it's how you tackle them that counts. In this guide, we'll explore the common sources of money disagreements and teach you the skills to address them in a healthy, mature way in order to have a more harmonious relationship with your partner. Read on to discover how to navigate money disagreements before they become too heated!
Money is such a common topic that triggers hot discussions and conflict in relationships. How we spend money is directly connected to values and what is most important in our lives. Looking through a bank statement can reveal a lot about what our priorities are. Often, couples believe they are having a money-related disagreement. In reality, they are really having a disagreement about values and priorities. These disagreements can become escalated very quickly, which is confusing to many couples. Many may ask themselves, "Why are we so angry about this?" The answer is the disagreement is deeper than logistical problem solving. The disagreement is really about something much deeper. Many couples do not realize this.
What are some common money disagreements?
Disagreement: How much to save and how much to spend.
In most relationships one partner tends to be more of a saver and one partner tends to be more of a spender. Neither is wrong, and both strategies are beneficial. Every couple needs savings for unforeseen emergencies, or to save for a large purchase. Every couple also needs to spend money to enjoy life and each other. Couples struggling in this area can work to understand that both strategies are needed and useful. Then, work to compromise to find a comfortable balance between spending and saving where both partners are happy.
Disagreement: How detailed the budget needs to be.
In most relationships one partner tends to be very detail oriented and one partner tends to have a more big-picture approach to life. Approaching a budget can be difficult as each partner may view what is needed much differently. The resulting discussion can quickly turn into a heated disagreement as one partner tries to convince the other that more detail is needed. In turn, the other partner tries to convince the other that all of the detail is overdoing it. Couples struggling in this can lean into the fact that a combination of the two approaches to the budget can actually produce a more functional budget. When a budget has both details and a big picture approach the budget is stronger. Differences in approaching a budget create the opportunity for the couple to work as a team and produce a better budget together.
How to Find Common Ground When it Comes to Money
Start by understanding the facts of the problem.
The foundation of successful conflict resolution starts with understanding the facts. Before you can resolve money disagreements in a relationship, it's important to understand the underlying issues at play. Take some time to learn and understand you and your partner’s financial history, financial goals, current debts, habits and perspectives on spending and saving. Once you have a good sense of the facts, it's much easier to come up with practical solutions that address core problems.
Pinpoint what's causing the money disagreement.
Money disagreements rarely just happen without any warning signs. There's typically an underlying factor that needs to be identified first. Recognizing the cause of your money disagreement will help you come up with an appropriate resolution. Is it due to different financial philosophies, a lack of communication, mismanaged finances, or something else? Take some time to honestly reflect on your money habits and beliefs, and have a conversation with your partner about what you believe is causing the disagreement.
Openly communicate and listen to each other without judging or attacking.
One of the most important steps to resolving money disagreements is to have an honest conversation about it. Start by focusing on understanding each other's point of view and expressing your own thoughts. Make sure that you're both open, honest, and respectful when speaking to one another, without getting overly emotional or attacking each other. It can also be helpful to write down your thoughts ahead of time so that you don't forget anything. Your goal should be to come up with a solution that works best for both of you.
Respect that everyone has a different perspective to handle money matters.
Everyone's relationship with money is different and often particular to their own experience. One partner may be more of a spender while the other needs to save every penny. Respect that neither way is right or wrong, but work together to find a balance that works for both of you. Take the time to understand each other's perspectives and why you handle money matters in your own unique ways. With this deeper understanding, it will be easier for the two of you to work towards compromises that respect each other's point of view.
Create an actionable plan together and find a middle ground you both can agree on.
When feelings of frustration or resentment arise, it can be difficult to calmly discuss money matters without lashing out. That's why it's important to create an actionable plan together. Start by having a conversation to come up with steps that you both agree on that promote the financial security you both desire. Money disagreements can be tricky but don’t give up! Collaborate together and communicate with respect, understanding, and openness – this will help to ensure you are both seen and heard in the process.
Know when to seek out the help of a marriage counselor and couples therapist.
Navigating disagreements about money can get tricky, frustrating, and overwhelming. Once the suggestions above are not creating the outcome you are looking for it could be time to reach out for help. An experienced marriage counselor will assist you in uncovering the pattern that is keeping you and your partner from communicating well about money. Money may not be the only issue you both are struggling with. A marriage counselor will assist with developing conflict management skills. It is also important to explore what other underlying concerns may be escalating topics of discussion like money, parenting, in-laws, etc. The good news is a talented marriage counselor work with you to not only help with discussions about money, but also work toward a deeper connection in your relationship.
Services at Valiant Couples Therapy and Marriage Counseling
Our team in our Fuquay Varina counseling clinic specializes in couples & marriage counseling. Couples & marriage counseling is not the only service we offer. Valiant Couples Therapy and Marriage Counseling provides individual therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy, couples intensives, Christian marriage counseling, online therapy, and couples workshops.