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Sharing the responsibilities

In today’s economically driven world, money is becoming an increasingly important issue in human relationships. Relationships are much more complex than a bank statement; however, money is a main source of anxiety for many couples.

There is little doubt that money issues affect many marriages and are a major cause of marital breakdown. In 1995, there were 10,400 divorces in B.C. alone. Family counsellors and employee assistance professionals agree that 40% of the time, money issues are the most significant factor in why marriages fail. In 1998, the Vanier Institute provided statistical evidence that all families were losing, not gaining financial freedom in the 1990s. They reported that 54% of all Canadians were finding it harder to make ends meet.

Further research in 1999 has confirmed that money issues create anger in families. Sixty-seven percent of the arguments between spouses concern money issues, creating an environment of hostility between partners and their families. 80% of all families worry about money issues on a regular day-to-day basis, which adds to the anxiety of daily life. An unbelievable 100% of the people surveyed agreed that it is actually possible to have a good income and still experience poverty.

Money tips for relationships

Whether you are thinking of making a major purchase together, or you are trying to work through some financial difficulties as a couple, give some thought as to who handles all of the money. Often in a relationship, one partner solely controls the finances, while the other partner remains uninvolved. Sit down and think about how the money is handled in your relationship and by whom. Perhaps both of you are responsible for the work of the budget – this is the preferred option. Only you can be responsible and in control of your financial freedom, so it is vital that you do not depend on anyone else to handle your finances. Here are some steps in helping to build a smart and strong financial life together:

  • Maintain three bank accounts titled ‘his’, ‘hers’ and a joint account called ‘the house’.
  • Set up internet banking, so the household account can be tracked by either party. This is one way both of you will know that the bills have been paid.
  • Sit down together and create a budget. You can download Solutions’ custom design budget sheetRealize that it is important to understand each other’s needs and wants.
  • Go over all the facts and figures. Do not hide any financial secrets from each other.
  • Learn how to compromise.
  • Do not blame each other for any past financial problems. Take this as an opportunity to start a fresh financial outlook.
  • Do not bring up how your parents or friends handle their money. Remember, that this is about you and your partners financial health, not anyone else’s.
  • Discuss all major purchases with each other before going through with it, and take into consideration how your partner feels. Realize that after you have bought the item, the discussion concerning the purchase will no longer be calm, but irrational and fuelled with anger.
  • Divide the household costs into an order of importance. Make sure that both of you both to feel comfortable with the order, since neither of you should feel that you are shouldering the financial burden.
  • Make sure each of you maintains your own credit and your own credit rating. This is one way to ensure that if one of you gets into financial difficulty, the other will not be dragged in too.
  • Set financial goals together, and agree on the priority of those goals.
  • Remember that refusing to take part in or failing to assist your partner in financial matters is just as destructive to the relationship as insisting on compete control over the finances.
  • Using money to control your spouse is emotional blackmail. Using money as a source of power is likely to lead to retaliation either financially or in some other aspect of your relationship.
  • Have a plan in case there is ever an unexpected inheritance or large sum of money given to your family. Research has shown that if one partner receives a large sum of money and makes decisions about its use without consulting the other partner, it can seriously damage and harm the relationship.
  • If you have children, involve them in your financial discussions as much as possible.
  • If you are experiencing financial problems, tell your children in a way that they will understand, but not be burdened or worried. Chances are that they already know from the tone or topics in family discussions. Children can sense anxiety in the family environment, and they will be more afraid if you do not take the time to inform them of what is wrong.
  • If you think that your spending is out of control or you need help to design a budget, seek help from a professional. Do not procrastinate, since the problem will only become worse over time if you do not receive help.

Communication in a relationship

If you are just beginning a new relationship or if you are looking for ways to improve your current one, follow these financial tips. Since money issues are one of the major factors in marital breakdown, it is important that you take the time to discuss these tips with your partner. Open the lines of communication with your partner; make sure that you understand each other’s needs and wants, and learn to compromise to meet these. Communication is one element in a relationship that can be controlled by both partners, so make sure that you are readily available and willing to discuss money and how it affects your relationship. Realize that money should not be the basis of your commitment to each other; understand that financial issues should not be a barrier between you and your partner, but an open door ready to be explored.

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