How To Find Common Ground When Your Partner Seems Irrational With Money

communication emotions financial empathy Jan 20, 2022

Do you feel that your partner's habits with money are irrational?

This is all too common in intimate relationships. Especially when two partners have different spending styles like when one is a spender and the other is a saver. 

Whether your partner is a spender or a saver, you may find that your partner's spending style is frustrating and difficult to cope with. 

In this blog, we'll discuss what you can do when you feel your partner's approach to money is irrational. 

Not Seeing Eye To Eye

Many couples do not see eye to eye when it comes to money. They may have been brought up in different types of environments and have different expectations when it comes to spending and savings. 

What's more, is that both members of the couple may in fact have deep beliefs about money that are motivating their behaviors. 

One member of the couple may have had experiences growing up that made them feel that they have to save money so that they're always safe. Whereas the other member of the couple may have had experiences growing up that make them believe that it's normal and healthy to spend a lot of money on things like home improvements or shopping. 

These differing beliefs can cause a disturbance in a relationship if they're not attended to. 

Savings As An Obsession

One type of behavior that's often overlooked is obsessive saving. Although savings is normally portrayed as virtuous it can become obsessive when the individual is continuing to save beyond what's necessary or out of fear. 

Sometimes, this is when a person is labeled as a "cheapskate" or a "tightwad" with money because they fail to see the importance of spending money on special occasions, gifts, and don't pitch in when they can afford to. 

In essence, this type of person can have difficulty with spending money. It can actually feel somewhat painful. Many of these people may feel as though spending money erodes their sense of security and safety, so they see a partner's requests to spend money on things like a vacation as not only frivolous but dangerous. 

No Eye On A Budget

Another type of behavior that can seem irrational is when one partner refuses to abide by a budget or join in working toward savings goals or debt repayment. 

The behaviors this type of person may demonstrate include: 

  • Shopping all the time
  • Not having any concept of how much you need to save for retirement
  • Refusal to let go of big projects like home improvements when they're not financially feasible
  • Not seeing the point of paying off debt
  • Hiding spending or investing

These types of behavior can erode trust when one partner feels that they're working toward the couple's future through their financial habits whereas the other partner seems to be frivolously spending. 

How To Overcome Feeling Your Partner Is Irrational

Plan A Time To Talk

Many people prefer to avoid financial discussions or brush their money issues under the rug. Unfortunately, this doesn't do a thing to help resolve the issue. Plus, it can actually end up creating more conflict, misunderstanding, and mistrust in the future. 

It's important to keep the lines of communication open in your relationship so that you can both discuss your fears, anxieties, and worries. This way you'll be able to foster financial empathy and understanding of one another. 

Don't Judge

When you prepare to talk to your partner it's important to go into the conversation from a non-judgmental place. Although it may not seem like it, everyone does what they do for a reason. So even if your partner's behaviors seem irrational, they very likely have a reason they're doing what they do. 

When you go into a conversation with your partner about their spending or savings habits from a non-judgmental place you make space for your partner to be seen and heard and to be able to express to you what's going on. 

If instead, you go into the discussion from a judgmental or critical place this will very likely just lead your partner to get defensive and shut down the lines of communication between you. 

Get Assistance Making Things Work

If you feel that you can't approach the conversation from a non-judgmental place or you don't feel like you have the communication skills necessary to navigate this discussion you can get support from a financial therapist or coach. 

In my upcoming course, The Couples Guide To Financial Intimacy, I'm teaching couples how to successfully communicate about difficult financial topics and to develop that deep level of understanding and empathy that gets you both back on the same team. 

One of the most common dilemmas in relationships when it comes to finances is the spender and saver phenomenon. In the course, we'll dive into how to see eye to eye even if you're both coming from different ends of the spectrum. We'll dive into your underlying beliefs, your past, your neurobiology, and everything that's caused you both to make the choices you do today. 

If you're ready to heal your relationship with your partner and your finances be sure to join us. 

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