This article originally appeared on Money254. Money254 helps consumers and business owners to search, compare and apply for financial products in Kenya.
Although money cannot buy love, it can ruin your relationship. Disagreements about how to spend, save, or invest can cause stress or even lead to the breakdown of a relationship.
But it's about more than how much money you have. Your money habits and attitudes also matter.
In this article, we'll explore eight habits that can fuel money conflicts in relationships and how to prevent them from damaging your relationship.
From being honest about your finances to avoiding power plays, we'll cover actionable steps that you can take to improve your financial communication and strengthen your bond.
Whether you are newlyweds or have been together for years, these habits can help you build a more secure and fulfilling relationship. So let's dive in!
1. Blaming or pointing fingers
Blaming or pointing fingers during money conversations can create a negative atmosphere, making it challenging to solve your financial problems. Besides, it can make your partner feel defensive and judged.
Instead of placing blame, take responsibility for your actions and focus on solutions. Do not blame your partner.
A useful strategy is to frame the conversation as a joint effort to find solutions. It can help both partners feel like they are working towards a common goal and encourage them to be more open and receptive to each other's ideas.
Another strategy is establishing clear communication guidelines and ground rules for discussing money. This way, you can avoid discussing money in a heated or emotional moment.
For instance, you can set aside a specific time and place to hold the talks and actively listen to each other.
2. Keeping money secrets
Financial infidelity is a common issue in many relationships, and it can be just as damaging as any other form of infidelity.
When one partner lies or hides financial information from the other, it creates a breach of trust and can lead to resentment.
Men and women hide different types of financial information from their partners. Men may be more likely to hide losses in investments, high levels of debt or gambling habits, as these can be seen as signs of weakness or irresponsibility.
On the other hand, women may be more likely to hide personal purchases or money given to their family or to save up for a big purchase without discussing it with their partner.
Regardless of the specifics, the underlying issue is more honesty and transparency in the relationship.
This means discussing financial goals, creating a budget together, and being transparent about income, debt, and investments.
3. Power plays
Power plays refer to a dynamic in a relationship where one partner attempts to assert dominance over the other. This can be through financial control, emotional manipulation, or withholding affection.
Power plays can fuel conflict in a relationship, especially when there are differences in income or social status.
For example, if one partner is the sole breadwinner, they may feel a sense of superiority and use their financial resources to control the relationship.
Similarly, if one partner comes from a family with money and the other does not, this power imbalance may lead to resentment and conflict.
To avoid power plays in a relationship, both partners should have an equal say in decision-making. Neither should feel pressured or coerced into doing something they are uncomfortable with.
Additionally, consider addressing any underlying issues through therapy or counselling.
4. Ignoring the problem
When you ignore money problems, they can quickly become more serious and lead to larger debts, missed payments, and financial strain. This, in turn, can lead to stress and tension within a relationship. Worse, it can even lead to the breakdown of your relationship.
To address money issues before they ruin your relationship, discuss your finances regularly and be willing to listen to each other's concerns and ideas.
Some suggestions for addressing money issues in a relationship include:
- Establish open communication: Talk to your partner about your financial concerns and goals. Make sure to listen to their input and consider their perspective.
- Create a budget: Work together to create a budget that works for both of you.
- Set financial goals: Decide on goals you want to achieve, such as saving for a down payment on a house, paying off debt, or building an emergency fund.
- Be accountable: Hold each other responsible for sticking to the budget and achieving your financial goals.
- Seek professional help: If you're struggling with debt or other financial issues, consider seeking professional help from a financial advisor.
5. Comparing your partner to others
Comparison is the thief of joy. When you constantly compare your partner's spending habits, income, or financial achievements to others, you can lose sight of the positive aspects of your relationship and financial situation.
Here’s how to avoid the negative impact of comparison.
- Focus on your relationship and financial goals. First, discuss your priorities and values, and work together to create a financial plan that aligns with your goals.
- Celebrate your accomplishments, and focus on what you can do to improve your situation.
- Limit exposure to social media and other sources of comparison.
6. Making financial decisions without consulting your partner
Not consulting your partner on large purchases, loans, or investments can cause conflicts as it may violate the trust and transparency required in a healthy relationship. Your decision can also impact the other, causing resentment, stress, and financial strain.
To avoid conflicts, financially plan together. Planning together ensures that you consider each partner's input.
If you have different financial goals, values, and priorities, find a compromise that works for both of you.
Lastly, when disagreements arise, take time to understand each other's perspectives and work together to find a solution.
7. Not respecting each other's money personality
Money personality refers to your inherent spending, saving, and investing tendencies. Our personalities vary widely and are shaped by upbringing, experiences, and cultural influences.
Some people are natural savers, while some are big spenders.
Spenders prioritise spending money on experiences, goods, or services that bring them pleasure or satisfaction. They may enjoy impulse purchases, splurge on luxury items, or be generous with their money.
However, they may struggle with saving money or managing their finances in the long term, leading to financial instability.
Savers, on the other hand, prioritise saving money for future goals, emergencies, or retirement. They may budget, seek out deals, or live a frugal lifestyle to achieve financial stability.
That said, savers may struggle with enjoying the present moment or feel guilty about spending money on themselves.
These different money personalities can lead to misunderstandings or conflicts in relationships. For example, a spender may feel restricted or judged by a saver's emphasis on frugality.
Similarly, a saver may feel anxious or frustrated by a spender's tendency to overspend or disregard financial goals.
The good news is you can understand each other’s money personalities through money conversations.
Here are three tips for navigating these conversations:
- Be transparent and honest
- Compromise and find common ground
- Focus on shared goals
8. Not setting a budget
If you don’t know how much money is available, you can easily overspend on non-essential items or underestimate expenses. This can lead to debt, financial stress, and conflict within a relationship.
The solution is to create a budget together. Here’s how:
- Identify all sources of income. Start by adding up all of your sources of income, including your side hustles.
- List your expenses: This includes fixed expenses like rent or mortgage payments, as well as variable costs like groceries, utilities, and entertainment.
- Set a spending limit. Allocate a specific amount of money to each category based on priority and necessity.
- Track your spending: This ensures you stay within your budget. You can track your spending through a spreadsheet, a budgeting app, or pen and paper.
- Regularly review and adjust the budget as circumstances change. This ensures that spending is aligned with financial goals and prevents overspending.
Money is one of the most common sources of conflict in relationships, and it can quickly spiral out of control if left unchecked. The eight habits discussed in this blog post can fuel money conflicts between couples. Fortunately, there are practical steps you can take to prevent them from damaging your relationship.
By setting clear financial goals, communicating openly and honestly about money, and establishing shared responsibility and accountability for your finances, you can avoid many pitfalls that lead to money conflicts in relationships.
Learning to compromise and finding creative solutions to financial challenges can help you and your partner work together to achieve your goals.
So start implementing these habits today, and watch as your relationship thrives and your finances soar.