Money is a major cause of conflict in relationships but it's one that can be planned for and even avoided with a little communication.
Our relationship with money is sensitive and, depending on how each of us sees the world, it can symbolize different things. For some, it represents how much you love the other person -- think of a wife disappointed in the carnations her husband gave her wishing instead for a bouquet of roses.
There are also financial rivalries, the way kids fight over toys. One person can get annoyed because the other has more than he or she does. The annoyed person feels shortchanged and the other feels the like their partner is a spoilsport for taking away pleasure. It's a many-layered issue that really boils down to self-esteem, need for security and each person's vision of how their lifestyle with their partner should operate.
Toronto psychotherapist Stephen van Beek joined Steven and Chris to talk about all the reasons people fight over money and how to resolve those arguments.
He said there are four things couples fight about when it comes to money:
1. "You've got more than me."
2. "You never give me anything."
3. "What do you do with all your money?"
4. The anti-feminist fight (When a woman expects a man to pick up the tab every time.)
It's important to figure out what's motivating your disagreement about money and start talking about it as soon as you realize there's a problem.
He also gave us five ways to resolve the issue:
1. Address the money issue openly: If you are in a long-term relationship, talk with each other about how you want to spend your money. Personal styles differ. Do you want to budget everything or just the basics? Will you share of expenses equally or proportional to your incomes? Decide on joint or separate bank accounts and shared or private credit cards. You might also consider whether each person should have some "monthly mad money" that they don't have to account for.
2. Admit your negative feelings about money: Manage your own feelings of envy and resentment but don't criticize your partner for how they use their own spending money. For example, if Bob buys a fishing rod for $1,500, and Betsy likes to buy boots and shoes, each should support the other in their own harmless pleasures.
3. Don't blame others for their successes or failures: When you feel resentful that the other person makes more money than you, acknowledge this feeling to yourself. Why should that other person have to defend themselves for making more money?
4. Consider how wealthy your relationship is: You may have money issues, but that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice what really matters to you: the relationship.
5. Don't hide your debts: Hiding information from others equates to blinding yourself to your own lack of control and can destroy trust in a partnership.
The Bottom Line:
Be real about how much money you have and communicate openly with your partner about how it should be spent. Decide on a budget and think about future goals. If you can compromise and be flexible, this should be the kind of argument you BOTH win in the end.