Money problems remain one of the most common things couples fight about. No matter what socioeconomic bracket they might fall into or how long they’ve been together, couples tend to get stressed about money – who’s spending what, where it’s being spent, who’s earning how much, and on and on…
And there’s one major reason why this happens – no budget!
You see, all of the trouble comes from uncertainty. Couples worry about each other’s spending because it might cause problems affording essentials. Couples get in arguments about luxury expenses because they might not be a “fair” way of sharing income.
When you have a plan, though, those problems tend to fade away. If you’ve both agreed to a budget – and you stick to it – there are no surprises when it comes time to pay the bills, you’ll both spend within your “allowance” for extras, and if there’s ever a disagreement about how money is being doled out, you can always refer back to the budget as your ultimate financial authority.
Let’s take a look at a real life example:
Drew and Laila came to me in some serious trouble. They were fighting constantly, and it quickly became apparent that most of their arguing happened over money issues. They were suffering from some terrible miscommunication.
Drew worked long hours, earning the majority of the family’s income. Laila resented the time he spent away from home, feeling that he was more dedicated to his career than the family. In Laila’s mind, Drew felt like he should have financial control because he earns more.
Drew, on the other hand, felt that Laila spent far too much money, and said that the only reason he works so much is to support her lifestyle! Her defense is that “he doesn’t know how much it costs to run a family, but maybe he would if he were around more…”
You can see how this type of disconnect could lead to arguments…
They are both making assumptions about the other’s intentions, and because they’re both coming into the discussion with resentment, it quickly turns to finger pointing and arguments. Instead of communicating, they’re blaming each other for the problem.
As we started to dig into their problems, it also became apparent that neither of them really had a very good view of their finances at all! They certainly weren’t working with a budget – and at the suggestion, they reverted back to blaming each other!
Drew said, “It’ll never work. We’ve had them before and she won’t follow them.”
Laila got defensive (as expected), saying, “He’ll just use the budget as another way to control me!”
But they obviously missed a big part of developing a functional budget – she’s talking about a budget HE created, and vice versa, he’s talking about her not following HIS version of a budget…
The part they missed is figuring out a financial plan TOGETHER. It might take a while (it certainly did for Drew and Laila), but collaborating to come up with a budget that works for both of you is key – a budget that’s going to account for your monthly essentials, and sets out some mutually agreed upon guidelines for extra spending.
Once you get a plan that you’ve both agreed to, you have to stick with it! If you have a disagreement or start fighting about someone’s spending, always refer back to the budget.
For Drew and Laila, it meant increased trust – Drew knew that Laila was spending within the parameters they agreed to, which made him feel more secure financially, which in turn allowed him to work fewer hours… Putting Laila at ease about his commitment to the family.
Once they were able to stop arguing about finances (and because Drew cut back on his hours working), the couple was able to spend more quality, happy time together – rekindling their relationship and reminding them why they fell in love in the first place.
Money remains a huge problem for many, many couples, but as you can see – it’s not the money, it’s the miscommunication! Take out the guesswork by committing to an agreed-upon budget, and watch how many areas of your relationship can be improved!