Couples who characterize their relationships as great talk about finances daily or weekly. Those that describe their relationship as just okay or in crisis talk about finances less frequently. When people discuss money in a relationship there is always bound to be some frustration and tension. The key is to be patient, hear the other person’s input and avoid the common pitfalls below.

Hiding money

In 2 out of 5 couples, one partner said they lied to the other about money. Keeping cash or a savings account hidden from your partner can be your downfall and can lead to the disintegration of a relationship once they find out. Trust is damaged. 75% of those surveyed said financial deception hurt their relationship.

Hiding debt

Not disclosing debt is worse than hiding money. In addition to the deception, if there is less money, and safety and long-term goals are compromised you may not be as secure as you once were. That can cause tremendous anger. 31% of people said keeping accounts and credit cards hidden is worse than an affair. Have an honest conversation and clear the air. This is the first step to trying to restore trust and recommit to shared financial goals.

Letting salary differences come between you

In many relationships, one partner makes more money than the other. It is unlikely that you both will earn the exact same amount. Unfortunately, some partners don’t view the pot as “our money” and can feel entitled to having the most say in financial decisions or use it as leverage intentionally or unintentionally. Things can be complicated further if one partner stays home with children and are made to feel like they shouldn’t have as much of a say in financial decisions. Often disputes over money are a battle for power This leads to more money and relationship troubles. Couples should avoid the “yours and mine” mentality and view earnings as “our money”. You’re on the same team – start acting like it!

Overspending and Underspending

These are really both sides of the same coin. On one hand, the spender may not show enough restraint when considering purchases and the under spender may likely be too tight with the purse strings.  Ironically, the amount of money people make doesn’t necessarily impact whether they’re a spender or a saver. It often arises out of different life experiences, backgrounds, and psyches. The under spender may have fears and anxieties about money and about risk due to their upbringing or from a past loss of a large amount of money. The over spender may have a detachment from risk and be more carefree and focused on the present. To them, buying things can be fun, and it helps them connect with other people linked into a psychological need to be accepted by peers.

Both behaviors are not ideal, and couples should work to compromise. Set a budget and discuss expectations together. Each person can agree to reduce or increase their spending by a mutually agreed upon percentage. This financial strategy can address unfulfilled and unsatisfied financial expectations. Then, each person needs to examine what money means to them and start a conversation about it.

In all these instances above, once we recognize tendencies that keep us stuck in negative money habits, we can learn how to discuss finances in a more productive way and start to have a life we can enjoy together as a team. Contact your Employee Assistance Program EAP for professional guidance. They will allow you all to come together, talk about it, and plan in a neutral and objective environment.