We’ve grown up singing too many love songs and watching chick flicks that we think love is the ONLY thing that matters in a relationship.
That’s not true.
It’s completely unrealistic to think that way.
Love costs money. It’s impossible to ignore the financial aspects of relationships.
Keep reading to help you get a clearer picture of how money and your relationship are linked.
Related Guide: How to Fix 13 Typical Marriage Problems
How is Money linked to Marital Satisfaction?
Studies prove that economic hardships are detrimental to relationships because they cause for financial disagreements.1
But why is that the case?
Financial hardships lead to extreme stress.2
If you wake up every morning and have to figure out how you’re going to fill up the fridge, then you’re going to have to deal with feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and frustration.
Your relationship won't stand a chance to get to the top of your priorities.
Having a significant difference in salaries can throw off balance in your closeness.
One of the strains caused by varying income levels in relationships is guilt.
Low-earning people in relationships may be embarrassed or feel like they aren’t pulling their weight in the relationship.
The same is true for those who earn more in relationships and may downplay salary increases or career advancement.
People who experience this can hamper their ability to feel pride and happiness.
Having different income levels quickly lead to unequal power and status.
The lower-earning person may feel like they cannot assert their independence and contribute to the relationship.
Or feel like they are at the mercy of their higher-earning spouse.
Money is often used as a symbol of love or security in relationships.
It becomes a symbol of trust when you share money with your partner.
The way money is shared by couples has changed throughout generations.
Our parent's generation mainly were single-income households.
This dynamic has changed: most of us have a dual-income household.
However, those who earn more tend to feel that they’re the ones who are making sacrifices to “take care” of their partner.
In such cases, the higher-earning ones may feel like they are paying for love, and this can make them experience resentment in the long run.
Many people regard money as a taboo topic in relationships.
It’s easy to assume that what’s yours is mine and vice versa.
You will be disappointed if you expect your partner to share your views on spending.
We all have different views on money.
One person in the relationship may be a penny pincher while the other spends without restraint.
This often leads to financial infidelity:
When one partner intentionally spends more money than they should and hide it from their significant other.
No matter what they spend their money on, they live with guilt and regret.
Especially if they have difficulty discussing their spending habits with their partner.
Communicating about money
Money is a top divorce predictor.3
Related: How to Avoid Divorce - 20 Ways to Revive a Struggling Marriage
Shockingly, 43% of Americans don’t know how much money their partner makes.4
Refusing to talk about money results in minor conflicts leading to massive arguments.
Fights about money do not necessarily stem from money.
They are usually caused by self-esteem and control problems that manifest through financial conflicts.
Communicating about money becomes even more important in financial planning, particularly when saving for retirement and investments.
Talking about money is still crucial even if your financial status is comfortable.
Knowing your partner's values, goals, and expectations will help you maximize your finances.
Here are eight tips to help you build a financially happy marriage.
8 Essential Tips For A Financially Happy Marriage
1. Be both transparent with your spending
You’re married. You (should) feel safe sharing your most intimate thoughts and establishing mutual goals.
The same is true when it comes to money.
It builds trust and makes it easier for you to understand one another when sharing your spending habits.
Being more transparent about spending can also help you cut costs.
Knowing how your partner spends and saves will help you be more conscious about your financial habits and prevent overspending.
So how exactly can you do this?
Does it mean you need to tell your partner every time you buy coffee at Starbucks?
Simply ensure that both of you know how much you're spending daily and your big expenses.
2. Create a joint banking account
There’s no point in being in a relationship where you can’t trust your partner.
You would be better off putting money in a joint bank account (instead of hiding your finances from each other).
This practical move provides many benefits, such as ease of bill payments and transparency.
Moreover, it gives you a sense of togetherness.
It doesn't necessarily mean putting all your money in a joint bank account.
Only 39% of couples fully merge their income for sharing with joint bank accounts, credit cards, and bills.5
Put a portion of your income in a joint bank account.
That’s enough to maintain a sense of independence.
Are you hesitating? Why?
Is it because you don’t want to trust your partner with the money?
Or you don’t want to lose control of your finances?
If the answer is yes to any of these, you should discuss your financial worries to avoid fights.
3. Make a budget and stick to it
21% of American adults do not have emergency savings, which may be caused by a lack of knowledge on budgeting.6
Budgeting is the last thing you want to think about or do. (YOLO)
Maybe it’s time you and your partner learn to love it.
As much as you can’t predict what expenses you’re going to have in the coming months or years, you can make reasonable plans through budgeting.
It requires you to jot down your income and list your monthly and annual expenses.
During this stage, you must also decide how much of your financial lives you want to combine.
One of the major pros of budgeting together is:
It will help you gain more control of your collective spending.
It will also push you to open up to each other about your financial struggles.
Set long and short-term goals for throwing your money toward an investment, retirement, or buying a home.
Related: 92 Marriage Statistics in the US & Worldwide
4. Do an annual review of your finances
This will ensure you stay on track.
The importance and practicality of this tip cannot be stressed enough: particularly if you are expecting children or planning to spend big on vacation.
It may sound daunting, but it will help you identify financial threats and opportunities in advance.
Assess whether you’ve achieved your goals as a couple and whether those goals are still relevant.
You decided to save for a home, but you may have changed your mind about where you want to settle over the years.
At this point, switch to a new goal you agree on.
5. Be open about your lifestyle and financial choices
Whether you’re rich or poor, you’ll always have the issue of money.
The way we feel about money is influenced by our experiences and upbringing.7
Hence, everyone has different spending habits.
Understand that this is okay, and it only means you should respect your partner’s spending habits and choices, even if they may not be aligned with yours.
When one partner is holding back from spending money on things their partner thinks are unnecessary, they may only end up feeling frustrated.
In this case, both people in the relationship will have to agree on a lifestyle that works for them.
You and your partner must set rules and stick to them.
Perhaps you may decide that you can’t spend more than $100 on clothing, but you can spend as much as you want on food.
You can also create a rule to deal with big purchases.
Two-thirds of consumers have an agreement to speak with their partner before spending more than a set amount.8
6. Keep ego out of the way when it comes to each other’s salary
Seventy percent of husbands earn more than their wives.9
Whether your spouse makes more, less, or the same amount of money as you, learn to be humble and respectful.
The amount of money you make does not define your value as a human being.
Leave your ego out of the picture and make financial decisions as a team.
When you’re able to do this, your relationship will be built on mutual respect.
As long as you and your partner are on the same page with where you want to go financially, you can stick with your strategies and goals.
7. Make investments together
Sometimes couples argue over which investment strategy is better.
The risk tolerance is simply different.
However, investing together as a couple is just as important as investing separately:
You’ll be able to contribute toward a specific goal and redirect your assets to achieve what you want.
Making investments together can also build your financial knowledge and help you see them through a different lens.
Do your research together so you can understand the risks and benefits.
If you’re unsure which investment strategies to follow, get help from a financial planner.
Over 30% of consumers have paid for a financial advisor.10
8. Plan for your retirement together
Set aside money early in your relationship, even if it's just a little.
It will be easier to achieve your goals if you are on the same page.
The best way to plan for retirement is to fully understand your current financial situation.
Determine how much money you need for retirement to maintain your lifestyle.
Assess how much you need to take out of your annual income to cover this expense.
Another thing you can do is to encourage your partner to save for retirement through employer-sponsored retirement plans.
This strategy is followed by 77% of Americans.11
When you reach your golden years, you can celebrate your success together.