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We've all heard the phrase "money talks," but when it comes to handling finances with your significant other, sometimes money fights. For many couples, talking finances is more like arguing over who spent what — an endless cycle of the blame game that not only adds to the financial strain, but leaves your relationship vulnerable in the process. If you find yourself in a reoccurring argument over your finances, you're not alone. We talked to finance guru Jeff Motske, author of The Couples Guide To Financial Compatibility, to reveal the most common reasons why couples fight about money, and how they're having an impact on your relationship.
I'm a Saver, You're a Spender
He likes to dine out, go to the movies, and grab drinks with friends, while you would rather stay home and save money. Your spending habits should be clearly established when handling your finances together.
Blowing the Top Off a Secret
He holds his own credit card and has amassed considerable debt. You discover a secret bank account with substantial funds. When these truths are revealed, trust is undermined and damages the relationship. Because we aren't accustomed to revealing everything about our finances, it's easy to get tangled in financial interests that leave our spouses in the dark.
He's racking up parking tickets and not paying them; you're late in paying the credit card bills and getting dinged with penalties. Both parties are behaving immaturely and when added up, the consequences can be costly.
I Splurge, You Can't
Problems occur when you believe you have the right to splurge, yet won't tolerate it when your partner does the same. Typically, the breadwinner feels entitled to splurge without talking it over with their spouse. Should the partner attempt to do the same, a power struggle often ensues, revealing deeper trust issues in the relationship.
You Don't Make Enough Money
Resentment can build when someone feels that their partner isn't "pulling their own weight" or making enough money in the relationship. For engaged couples, having the money talk and being completely honest about your finances is essential to creating healthy expectations for the future.
Establishing Winners and Losers
One of the biggest traps couples fall into is making unilateral financial decisions. This makes each decision a zero sum game with one winner and one loser in the argument. And with each new decision, the old scoreboard looms in the background, which is only a recipe for disaster.
Not Discussing the "What Ifs"
Over a lifetime, couples may face tough questions like whether to start a new business venture or whether to move the family cross-country for a job. Being open to those "what if" discussions can help you prepare both financially and emotionally for those big life-changing moments.