How to Talk about Money in any Stage in a Relationship

financial infidelityThe following is a guest post from Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, author of the book, Financial Infidelity: Seven Steps to Conquering the #1 Relationship Wrecker. Dr. Weil has been an internationally acclaimed relationship therapist for thirty years. New York magazine named her one of the city’s top therapists and Psychology Today named her one of America’s best therapists.

It’s imperative to talk about money in some capacity – your opinions, views, habits, etc. early on in the relationship, hopefully before you even cement your relationship by having sex! That may seem extreme, but who wants to go down the road to sexual intimacy only to have it torn apart by a struggle in the realm of financial compatibility?

This is why I’ve created the “Smart Heart Dialogue? to help you share your financial history with someone you’re becoming intimate with. Many of these conversations can be triggered by a transition in a relationship – use that transition to be open and honest in finding out what you can about the other person’s view of money. Understand that a person’s money habits can be ingrained in them from a very young age, and therefore are usually held to pretty tightly, even if that person doesn’t realize it!

As you transition through a relationship there are a few scenarios that lend themselves to talking about money. Here are a few:

Q: If we move in together, do we split all the bills?

A: This can be a good time to talk about expectations for how to deal jointly with finances outside of a marriage. It’s not usually best to combine everything right off the bat, and a good way to deal with this question can be to suggest having a “fund? that you both do contribute to equally, that can be used for your fun activities – then, you can make joint decisions about that fund.

Q: I overspent while we were on vacation, can you lend me some money?

A: The person asking for a loan may not take money and budgeting as seriously as you do. Or maybe you overspent too. Whatever the case, you need to evaluate how you deal with money, leisure activities and “spur of the moment? purchases.

And if you’re in a committed relationship where you’ve had some of the more basic talks there are still ways that money conflict can manifest itself in ways you weren’t expecting!

Q: Do you have to review my credit card bill each month?

A: The person asking this question may feel like a child in the relationship – always being checked up on. If that’s the case, as a couple you need to work hard toward sharing the “power? of the checkbook. One person shouldn’t feel like they’re less-informed or less-involved in the process. This can lead to contempt and revenge spending.

Q: We can’t afford to go on vacation with your family (or our friends) again this year if they’re going to invite us as their guests, then make us pay for our share of everything.

A: You need to lay out expectations for big ticket items and expenses at the on-set. Together, decide what you can afford and if necessary inform the other party, and present it as a unified decision.

By being honest and respectful you can get through these dialogues and relationship transitions and grow with your relationship as it continues to change over time!

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