How Finances can Stress a Relationship and What You Can Do About It

money relationship couplesThe role money plays in a relationship is so important that often times couples overlook having the discussion about money. I mean, how do you know when the right time to discuss money is? Do you tell him on the first date that you declared bankruptcy last year, or do you wait until there is a commitment to discuss money? And even then how much should you talk about? Should you tell him how much money you make the day after you decide to be monogamous?

It can be difficult to choose the right time, especially since money is such a hard topic to discuss. Its how some people define themselves, so it can be quite uncomfortable for someone who doesn’t think they make enough to share that part of their life with someone.

Whenever you decide to have the money talk with your significant other is up to you, but it is vital that the discussion happens. In my opinion you should know what your partner’s beacon score is before you marry that person. I am not saying not to marry them if they have a 520 beacon score, but you sure shouldn’t be surprised that they have a low beacon after marriage. It’s better to ask yourself if you could be with someone who cannot manage their money well, prior to marriage. Maybe he or she has too much debt for you to handle. Whatever your significant others financial situation is, you should be aware and know if it’s something you can deal with before making such a lifelong commitment.

The money talk is extremely important because things can change very quickly when financial struggles begin. The pressure of a job loss or debts piling up can have a powerful impact on a relationship.

How Financial Difficulties Can Affect Couples

Couples experiencing financial issues often discover they have lost their ability to deal with all sorts of other problems the way they used to. Some of the changes that can occur as a result of financial issues are:

  • Depression – Depression often happens when one partner lost their job and is out of work for a lengthy period of time. It is extremely important for the partner who lost their job to not tap out of the relationship because of depression.
  • Stress – Sometimes the partner who still works starts feeling overwhelmed and stressed because of the responsibility of having to pay all of the bills. This is where communication is very important.
  • No Fun – Often times when there are financial problems, couples stop having fun. The stresses of their finances consume the relationship and it seems that life just stops.  Just a friendly reminder that having fun doesn’t always require money.
  • New Priorities – The flip side to not having fun is having too much fun to avoid the issue at hand. This will only lead to more unhappiness.
  • Frustration – Have you ever met someone who doesn’t handle their money well and wonders why they don’t have what their neighbor has? Well living above your means will always cause frustration.
  • Lack Of Intimacy – You and your partner may find yourselves avoiding intimacy simply because you are under so much pressure.

How to Ease the Pressure of Finances

Whatever the reason for financial problems in a relationship, it’s important that couples work it out and fight fair. Money should never stand in the way of two people who love each other under any circumstance. Here are some steps that you can take to help ease the pressure of finances.

  • Stop trying to live up to other people’s expectations and please don’t try to live up to the Joneses or the Smiths, or the Kardashians.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you just don’t know what you are doing, ask for help. Just remember to ask someone who is managing their own finances well. If they can’t manage their own finances well, they sure as hell won’t be able to tell you what to do.
  • Sometimes it may just be that you don’t make enough money. If that’s case just find anything to do. Work at McDonalds if you have to. While you’re flipping burgers, just keep thinking that this is temporary and use every spare moment to find that next job.
  • Support your partner if they’ve lost their job and assist them in finding something. Putting them down for not working won’t work. Encourage them!
  • Discuss finances together. When both people are contributing to what’s going to happen with your money it makes for a happier financial life.
  • Find ways to enjoy each other’s company without having to spend huge amounts of money.

What Do You Do To Avoid Financial Stress?

“How Finances can Stress a Relationship and What You Can Do About It” was included in the following carnivals:

Carnival of MoneyPros at The Happy Homeowner
Yakezie Carnival at My University Money
Carn. of Financial Camaraderie at My University Money
Carnival of Retirement at Freeat33
Y and T’s Weekend Ramblings at Young and
Finance Carn. for Young Adults at Brick By Brick Investing

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  1. says

    When one of the couple is down on finances, it is crucial for the other to be VERY supportive, especially emotionally. This helps the other immensely in recovering his/her self confidence and getting back on track. Failure to do so may result in the disintegration of the relationship.

    Great Article btw!

  2. DIY Investor says

    I agree that the talk is important but would add that careful observation when you first meet people tells a lot about their attitude towards money. You can also assess if they are amenable to getting help should the need arise.
    One thing that most experienced couples would agree on I believe is that you aren’t going to change people.
    Interesting and important post.

  3. says

    Here’s what helps in our marriage.
    Make more money – since I make extra money blogging, etc., we earn more than we spend (moreso than my sole salary alone); hence I’m less inclined to fight with my wife about money.
    Do all the finances – I see everything. All income, all expenses. I know what we’re both spending money on so if something’s a problem, I can see it and call it out right off; many people just lack the visibility.
    Make tough decisions – there was a while where I was making enough that we weren’t really saying no to anything – social outings, vacations, gadgets, recurring subscriptions, etc. I put my foot down and she agreed, we need to make decisions and budget. can’t do it all! So, we cancelled newspapers, Sirius, the pest control guy and don’t go out every time friends ask us. Babysitters and dinners out get expensive!

  4. says

    Communication is key. When you wrote – “When both people are contributing to what’s going to happen with your money it makes for a happier financial life” – I think you nailed it. Couples cannot afford to have only one person responsible for doing the budget or paying the bills. Couples have to be a team and work together.

    The neat thing about this is that, while you may still have money stress, it brings you closer together as a couple. Working on the budget together was really tough for my wife and I, but it did more to bring us together and get us on the same page than anything else up to that point in our marriage.

  5. says

    I think it is important to think as a team, instead of looking at things in terms of “his money/her money”, separate accounts and bill paying, etc. When embracing finances as true partners, that’s a big step in the right direction. Also, being supportive and having the ability to compromise are two other important qualities.

    These steps, collectively, should be able to help people minimize or reduce stress. After all, it’s easier to handle things when working together as opposed to working independently and competing with one another.

  6. says

    Money and lifestyle challenges do make relationships much harder, and the worst circumstance happens when one person in the couple really hides their (usually bad) financial situation well. I hate to say it, but if you are the kind of person that manages their finances well and your partner isn’t transparent… sometimes you just gotta either commit to snooping a little or sacking your relationship. If they can’t be honest and transparent about something like money, then odds are that is the tip of the iceberg and it is time to move on… quickly.

  7. Pam@Pennysaverblog says

    My husband and I have everything joint, and we input all of our transactions into Quicken, so that either one of us can get a financial snapshot at any given time. With everything out in the open, it is much easier to talk about our current financial situation. We also discuss any large purchases before making them. Although we have definitely had situations that have been financially very stressful, we have found that as long as we are both on the same page we have been able to work through things and not argue very much.

  8. says

    Financial stress is a common of everyone. Stress can come in many forms. The one thing you can count on is that it will be in your life. Try to remember that everyone handles stress differently. I am also following “Discuss finances together” option; I think that’s best option for me.

  9. says

    Great points. I find that my husband and I have the hardest times when he wants to spend and I don’t see the need and would rather save it. I have learned to choose my battles. If it means an argument that will be blown out of proportion or a $30.00 purchase, I’d rather swallow the expense. It can’t happen all the time, but I am careful not to be saying we can’t afford that over and over again.

  10. Felix Lee says

    In our relationship with my partner, I try as much as possible not to have too much issues when it comes to financial matters. We do experience a bit misunderstanding on money matters, but we try to settle things right away. Money can easily be earned rather than have a broken relationship to mend.

  11. chelsea lewis says

    I really like this article. I agree that as responsible adults it should be a requirement that couples talk to each other about their money situation. Not only should they talk about financial matters in the past, but present and future. Before a couple gets married they need to have a discussion on how they think money should be handled and make sure that they agree with one another. Too many couples overlook other important reasons on why and how good marriages work beyond just loving each other.


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