CONSIDER THIS: Only about 43 percent of couples in America talk finances with their significant other before marriage, according to the American Express Spending and Saving Tracker. In fact, about 91 percent of American couples actively look for reasons to avoid talking to each other about money.
While they may not be talking about it, couples are certainly stressing about money. That same American Express poll found that nearly 30 percent of couples said finances caused the most stress in their relationship.
A study conducted by the University of Denver’s Department of Psychology found financial problems were the fifth-most cited reason for divorce—ahead of substance abuse and domestic violence. Both sides of about half the divorced couples agreed financial problems were a major reason they divorced, according to the study.
There are ways, however, to avoid the stress, arguments, and even divorce court. Here are some tips for discussing finances with your significant other:
Don’t wait until it’s already an issue. Talk about all things money as early as possible – preferably before you combine finances. That way, ugly revelations about debt or purchasing habits won’t put undue stress on your relationship.
Never lie or hide anything. Really open up about your complete financial life with your partner. Don’t conveniently forget to mention that staggering student debt you’re working through or your guilty pleasure coffee runs.
Figure out how your strengths and weaknesses can complement each other. Nobody has perfect control over every aspect of their money. Find out which one of you is better at reigning in spending. Maybe the other can better keep track of impending bills.
Talk about the way your finances could look in the future. You’re likely not going to have the same job forever. Maybe you dream of flipping houses or becoming a stay-at-home parent. Talk to your partner about your goals for the future and how they might affect your combined finances.
Get some help. Many financial institutions, including credit unions, can provide expert advice for couples whether they’re just starting out or need to get on better financial footing.