How financial problems can torpedo your relationship

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Hide a credit card account from your spouse. Spending that extra $ 300 on a tablet doing this will blow up your household budget for the month. Forgetting to post the car payment on time and then hiding that fact from your spouse.

These are all financial missteps that could ruin your relationship. Money problems are one of the main causes of stress in couples. When partners don’t honestly discuss their finances or hide financial issues from themselves, they put their relationships at risk.

The good news? Couples can avoid this tension by having regular financial meetings, creating a family budget together, and promising never to hide any money secrets.

“Relationships are all about trust and communication, and if one partner spends the other’s bank or lies about finances, it causes a real break in the relationship,” said Samantha Daniels, Founder of The Dating Lounge, an invitation-only dating app, and owner of the Samantha’s Table matchmaking service. “Living a secret life is never a good thing and, at the end of the day, you usually get caught anyway. It is much healthier for the relationship to be upfront about what is going on with your finances.

Financial stress

A survey released last year by SunTrust Bank shows just how stressful finances can be on a relationship. According to the survey, 35% of respondents experiencing stress in their relationships said that money was the main cause. Respondents aged 44 to 54 were even more likely to cite money as the main cause of relationship stress, with 44% of them stating that finances were the biggest stressor in their relationships.

There’s a reason for this: When couples aren’t honest about how much money they’re spending, they’re lying to their spouse, and a relationship without honesty is always going to crack. When couples overspend regardless of their household budget, it shows disrespect towards their partners, another issue that will break a relationship.

According to Rosemary Frank, Certified Advanced Divorce Financial Advisor and Financial Analyst, “Hiding money, secret expenses, and secret accounts is actually a lack of trust and / or respect for the other person. Frank said: “Money is the tool with which partners punish and / or control. It’s not really about money, but the motivations behind how money is used and abused in a relationship.

Rob Pascale, co-author of “Making Marriage Work,” explains that money problems can damage a relationship even when there are no secret expenses or hidden credit card accounts. Suppose a couple buys a house that they really cannot afford. Each month, they will have a hard time making their mortgage payments.

This kind of long-term financial stress can color everything else in a relationship. The couple could feel guilty every time they go out to eat, ruining what should be a nice evening. Maybe their anniversary is coming and the couple don’t have enough money to celebrate.

“When we have a prolonged debt that goes on for years, we constantly feel the pressure to make payments,” said Pascale. “This means we’re likely to experience ongoing emotional stress, and prolonged stress can lead to conflict, even among the most resilient couples. “

Then there are the unilateral debts. For example, a husband can buy a boat even if his wife has no interest in fishing or boating. The wife might then not want to have to give up a nicer car or a vacation because the couple now have to worry about payments for a boat the wife didn’t even want.

“This kind of debt can say a lot about a marriage,” said Pascale. “When a partner takes a couple into debt to meet their needs alone, there is a question as to that person’s commitment to their partner. Couples who end up divorcing due to financial issues tend to spend more on individual items rather than things that benefit both partners. “

How to avoid money problems that ruin relationships

Jamie Hopkins, associate professor of taxation at the American College of Financial Services and co-director of the New York Life Center For Retirement Income, explains that couples can take steps to increase the chances that money problems will not torpedo their relationships.

First and foremost, couples really need to talk about money. This is something that many couples rarely do. Couples should talk about their financial habits long before they get married, Hopkins said.

“It means being honest about their financial situation, how much they spend, how much they save, what their financial experiences have been in the past,” Hopkins said. “You cannot develop a secure financial position for both couples without communication.”

Couples should plan for regular financial conversations throughout their lives, Hopkins said. That way, they can tackle possible financial challenges before they become even more serious problems. Creating a family budget is also a key. Once couples have this budget in place, they can analyze how well they are achieving their financial goals each month.

Couples shouldn’t be hiding financial secrets either, Hopkins said. This means that you don’t have to open a credit card account that you hide from your spouse or partner. It also means that you should not buy something and then try to hide that purchase.

“This type of financial infidelity can be very damaging to a relationship,” Hopkins said. “Lying about finances can erode trust in a relationship.”

Finally, it’s important for couples to talk about their past financial experiences. If you’ve always had credit card debt, share this information with your partner. If your parents were constantly struggling to pay the bills, this could explain why you’re so reluctant to spend money on entertainment or eating out. Sharing past financial experiences can help couples understand their partner’s perspective on everything from saving to using credit cards.

“If your partner can better understand where you’re coming from, they can better understand where your financial future will take you,” Hopkins said.

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