5 Ways to Avoid Fighting About Money With Your Partner, Therapists Say
Bickering about nickels and dimes isn't worth it. Here's how to calmly talk about finances.
Money might be the most common of all the things we argue about with our partners. According to a 2021 Fidelity survey, 44 percent of people say they argue about money occasionally in their relationship, and one in five say it's their greatest relationship challenge. Another 24 percent of people say they are often frustrated with their partner's financial habits but keep quiet to keep the peace. If any of those stats remind you of your relationship, you're not doomed to money problems forever. Read on to hear from therapists about the best ways to avoid fighting about money with your partner.
Chat casually about money on date night.
Your money conversations don't have to be something you dread. Whether you've been together for a few weeks or a few years, you can have conversations about finances that deepen your bond.
"Couples should spend time over several date nights talking about money, how they feel about money, and how money was handled or talked about in their families growing up—couples should share how these lessons impacted them and the way they manage their own finances now," says Catherine Dukes, LCSW, sex therapist and couples therapist.
"Couples can benefit deeply by also having conversations about their strengths and weaknesses in managing money and what their goals are for improving themselves in these areas," Dukes adds. Only from there can you move on to more difficult topics, like budgeting, saving, and spending in the future.
Then get into the nitty gritty.
After you get some background information on your partner's feelings toward money, you can get into the dollars and cents.
"Couples should discuss their attitudes toward money and come up with a mutually agreeable plan for managing their finances," says Lillian Rishty, licensed clinical social worker. "This can include creating a budget, deciding who will pay which bills, and setting aside money for joint expenses and individual discretionary spending."
Host monthly check-ins.
Maintaining healthy finances isn't a one-and-done deal. Therapists also suggest hosting monthly check-ins to ensure you remain aligned.
"When couples check in, they should review their current financial status, discuss any large purchases or investments made since the last check-in, bills that need to be paid, and plan ahead for upcoming expenses," says Steve Carleton, LCSW, CACIII. "They should also review their budget to ensure they are staying within their spending limits and update their goals to align with any changes that occurred since their last check-in."
Do this around the same time each month to nip problems before they become major issues.
Never try to hide financial secrets from your partner, no matter how small. "Being honest with one another about money can help couples avoid fights because it helps them understand each other's financial goals, attitudes, and habits," says Carleton.
"When both partners are transparent and open about their finances, they can create a budget that works best for both of them, identify areas where they may need to compromise or make changes to reduce potential conflicts, and review their finances together to ensure they're on the same page," Carleton explains. It's also the only way you can maintain accuracy in your planning and decision-making.
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Remember you're a team.
Dealing with finances is a necessary component of a long-term partnership, and you should treat it as such.
"My best tip for avoiding fighting about finances is to not only have regular conversations about it but to walk into these conversations remembering that you and your partner are a team," says Katherine Chan, LMFT, psychotherapist. "Try not to make your partner the enemy by doling out accusations. Instead, join forces against a common challenge within your financial situation and commit to working together." Your chats will be much more enjoyable and productive.