Couples and Money


Couples and's a touchy subject.

Do you know any couples who don't fight about money? I don't either.

Fighting about money, as anyone who is married or living together knows, is pretty common. Disagreements about how to spend, save, and invest can really ruin a perfectly nice Saturday.

Here are some popular couples and money fight themes:

  • You're a saver and she's a spender (or vice versa)
  • One of you bought something expensive (I would define expensive as over $250) and didn't consult the other first.
  • One of you had lots of debt when you first got married.
  • You're interested in planning for retirement and she isn't worried about that. It's so far in the future after all, it'll all work out somehow. (or vice versa)
  • One of you is great at keeping track of expenses, using Quicken, saving receipts, etc. and the other isn't.

These are all important issues, but the main thing they all have in common is that they need to be TALKED ABOUT.

Sure, you may say you talk about money all the time. But is it constructive? Is anyone really listening to the other? Or are they mainly bitching sessions or overly reactive and emotional "discussions?"

Here is where GOOD COMMUNICATION comes in. This is when it's absolutely critical to know good rules of communication inside and out. Read this website's page on communication. Commit to learning how to communicate effectively with your partner. This is critical when it comes to couples and money.

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If you're having a talk about anything money related, be a good listener. Listening well means withholding judgment, advice, criticism, etc. until after your partner is finished talking, and after you've paraphrased what your partner just said, and after you've acknowledged your partner's feelings about the subject. Then and only then, should you open your mouth to respond or launch into your side of it.

It's helpful to think about how your own parents handled money and how their attitudes and behaviors might be affecting you now. We unconsciously take on attitudes and beliefs about money, from our parents and don't even realize we're bringing these to our marriage (or relationship.) Share your insights with your partner. Hiring a financial planner might be a good idea for some couples. Having an impartial third party give recommendations can help you see the bigger picture.

Even if a couple has wildly different ideas about how to handle money, you have to arrive at some common goals. While men tend to seek methods for making tons of cash, women often prefer a slow and methodical approach. If you've both done a good job of fully listening to and acknowledging the other's point of view, you should be able to come up with a plan that you both can agree on. But if one person thinks they are 100 % right and the other is 100% wrong, then forget it. There has to be respect for the other's opinion, no matter how different it is from yours. There has to be give and take or you'll be butting heads forever.

Money can be a devilish issue for couples. But if everyone is honest, open, willing to communicate constructively, and willing to work toward common goals, money doesn't have to stand in the way of a couple's happy union. I know this is a tall order for a lot of people but it is possible.

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