Why do couples have a difficult time discussing money?
Carlos Durana Ph.D., M.Ac. offers counseling and therapy in Reston, Virginia, Washington, DC, and Bethesda, Maryland.
You’ve probably experienced a time with your significant other when you want to talk about money and what it should be spent on or saved for but avoided the conversation because you didn’t want to strain the relationship. Money is always a hard topic to talk about, especially with your significant other. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, a third of adults reported that money is a primary source of conflict in their relationship and is more likely to remain problematic and unresolved (APA, 2019). Why is the topic so difficult to talk about, even in talk therapy?
Bad spending habits
One of the reasons it might be difficult to talk about money is because you or your significant other have bad spending habits. If you have a habit of spending more money than you should or spending it on things that are not essential or on-budget, you are likely to have a difficult discussion with your partner in the near future. Bad spending habits are hard to break and whether it’s you with the habit or your partner, it’s a pattern that needs to be ironed out.
Different expectations for where the money should go
Expectations are a huge reason why couples argue about money problems. If you expect a certain amount of money to be saved and your partner thinks it needs to be spent for different reasons, conflict is likely to happen. Putting your expectations out there at the beginning of the relationship regarding money can help save a lot of flaring tempers and can lead to keeping money goals in check.
The primary provider of the family feels that they have more rights to the money than their partner
It can be hard to set expectations or goals for how to handle money if you feel you have more of a right to it than your partner. If you are constantly telling your partner how it’s not “our” money, but “your” money because you are the primary income provider for the family then you are setting yourself up for failure. Start by realizing that you and your partner are working hard to have a life together whether that involves making the money or using it for the benefit of your family. Appreciate each other’s hard work and aim to build up their strengths and plan for weaknesses when it comes to saving or spending money.
The best way to deal with money problems is to talk about them
Communicating your expectations and frustrations with money with your partner is going to be the key to working out money problems. When discussing with each other, make sure to keep an open mind and be empathetic to your partner’s perspective so you both can work out solutions as a cohesive unit. If you think you may need extra support when confronting money problems consider couples talk therapy with A Caring Approach.