There are many potential reasons that couples fight about money. Knowing what some of the most common reasons are can help you minimize money fights with your partner.
Some people communicate better with words, while others prefer to use their bodies and facial expressions. Some people have a more direct way of communicating than others do. It's important for you to understand your partner's communication style so you can work together effectively on financial issues.
When you don't take the time to understand your partner's communication style it can create tension, defensiveness, and disagreements about things that otherwise wouldn't be an issue.
Communication is one of the bedrock issues that people need to improve in couples counseling. When communication is improved, relationships are improved.
In my upcoming course, The Couples Guide to Financial Intimacy, I'll be teaching couples all about communication.
Money beliefs are formed due to your foundational experiences growing up.
People who grew up in different cultures or countries tend to be very different when it comes to how they handle finances. This can impact your approach to money and what your expectations with your partner and money are. This can include things like who is in charge of finances, what's worth spending money on, and savings habits.
Some people have had very different financial experiences growing up than others. Some grew up with parents who were always broke or never saved anything at all. Others came from families where there was plenty of money available.
The result? People often carry those past experiences into adulthood. If you grew up poor, then your idea of how much money should be spent might be quite limited. On the flip side, if you grew up wealthy, then you probably expect more out of life financially.
Financial Experience and Education
If one partner has been educated about financial issues, then he/she should be able to help guide the other through any problems. However, this doesn't always happen. Sometimes people don't know have a high degree of financial literacy and aren't interested in educating themselves.
This lack of knowledge could result in fights because there isn't an understanding of where each party stands. One person thinks something needs to change, but the other disagree due to their different level of experience with and knowledge about money.
This can also lead to money fights when one partner doesn't feel as confident with money matters because they don't have the financial education of the other partner. This might result in one partner having control of the finances and the other partner feeling helpless or powerless.
Spender vs. Saver
This one is pretty obvious: Spenders tend to be people who love spending money, while Savers tend to be those who prefer saving money.
There are many ways this plays out in relationships. For example, maybe one partner loves going shopping and wants to buy everything he sees, while his/her partner prefers buying quality items instead of cheap ones. Or perhaps one partner likes eating out every night, while another doesn't care as long as there's food on the table.
When one partner is a saver and the other is a spender it can cause a lot of conflict due to each partner not understanding the other. This can lead to a lack of financial empathy and understanding by both parties.
When you have different long-term goals and financial expectations it can impact how you approach money and your relationship.
Different long-term goals can cause all sorts of money problems and headaches if they aren't communicated about effectively early on in the relationship.
Maybe one of you wants to buy a house, while the other doesn't see having a house as necessary right now or in the future—maybe ever.
This can be especially so if one person is set on buying a home within five years, but their partner is unable or unwilling to do that. The person who wants a home so badly could start resenting their partner for not being a part of his/her dream.
Who Takes Charge Of The Money
In many relationships, it's common for one partner to take charge of the finances and takes care of things like paying bills, doing the taxes, etc.
However, there are some couples where either person can take charge of money matters. This works well when both people have a similar view on financial management because it cuts down on fights about money.
However, as alluded to earlier, if one partner is a spender and the other a saver, or if there's a difference in education or experience with money matters, then it can create tension when one person has to take charge of the finances because they might not agree with how their partner is handling things.
There can also be fights about who gets to make money decisions and whose opinion matters more when making big purchases.
Ultimately, the question of who is "in charge" of the money comes down to who controls the money. When one partner has complete control it can create an imbalance in a relationship that leads to tension and fighting.
How Much Money You Each Earn
This might seem a little obvious, but there are many relationships where one partner works and the other doesn't.
There can be arguments about who makes more money.
Maybe one person makes $80k/year, while their partner only earns $20k/year. The person who makes more money might feel entitled to spending money without having their partner's input, especially if they have a higher-paying job.
The one who doesn't work or earns less can resent that his/her opinions are being overlooked because their partner controls the money and decides where it goes.
There could also be issues about who pays for what in a relationship when only one person works or each partner makes a very different income.
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