Whether your significant other spends precious pennies on items you find frivolous or they won't let go of their purse strings death-grip long enough for you to grab enough cash for coffee, you might be tempted to take them to task. But our experts agree you should never discuss money when you're mad.
"Money is a hot-button issue because it reflects far more than just spending habits," says Elle Kaplan, finance expert and founder of LexION Capital. "Almost every relationship milestone is connected to money: buying a house, having a child, traveling, and the like are just as dependent on partners' monetary views as they are on any other shared belief and value."
Not only that, says Julie de Azevedo Hanks, Ph.D., LCSW and owner and director of Wasatch Family Therapy, but "money can be a difficult topic because it's often associated with power and freedom in the marital dynamic. If you discuss money only when you're angry," she explains, "money will become more emotionally loaded, making it even harder to talk about in the future."
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While there may never be a perfect time to talk about your purchases and financial philosophies, you can tackle these talks early to prevent future problems. "I always tell couples to stop waiting for the perfect moment and instead bring up these discussions as early as possible in the relationship," says Kaplan. "It's better to find out differing money views and possible disagreements at the start of a relationship, rather than years down the line in marriage."
If you're already married and find you're discussing money matters mad, Hanks suggests pushing the pause button on the conversation until you can come back calm, cool, and collected. Plus, says Kaplan, you don't have to let your financial differences drive you apart.
"You need to realize that working on finances together can bring along a whole new level of intimacy and closeness," she says. "If you approach these issues as a goal to work toward rather than a disagreement, it can completely strengthen a relationship. For instance, rather than blaming a partner for their debt, you can treat it as a goal to tackle together so you can purchase a house after marriage."