Financial Intimacy: A Key Component Your Relationship May be Missing
Relationships fail for many reasons, but lack of financial intimacy can be the final nail in the coffin. Financial intimacy is where your love life and financial life meet. It’s the ability to have open and honest communication with your significant other about what you owe, where your money goes, and where you’d like it to go. We’ve all heard that finances are a huge source of conflict in relationships and a recent report offers more proof. More than one-third of student loan borrowers said their student loans were part of the reason they got a divorce. Of those divorcees, 13 percent felt their student loans were the main cause of divorce. That’s about one in eight! Clearly, “for richer or poorer” wasn’t written with student loans in mind.
Relationships Can Be Hard. Discussing Finances Can Be Harder
Finances are a difficult thing to talk about, even with the people we love the most. Some people even have trouble admitting their financial situation to themselves. For couples who haven’t yet combined their finances, or have just started, it can be especially daunting to discuss where their money goes. Many couples hide their purchases or debt from each other, often to avoid shame, financial restrictions, or arguments. The increasing reliance on credit cards and loans also contributes to the problem.
We’re Conditioned for Avoidance
Part of the reason that people have trouble with financial intimacy is that many of us were taught from a young age that it’s not polite to talk about money. Not only that, but some of us have also been conditioned by our parents to have a reactive stance on money, rather than a reflective one. “Money doesn’t grow on trees” and “Do you think I’m made of money?” may sound familiar. Money is also equated with success in America, so when we feel like we don’t have enough of it, that can cause feelings of shame, failure, and inadequacy. These factors combine to make for a very uncomfortable subject, especially with significant others.
Get Past the Money Taboo
The first step in financial intimacy is to overcome the money taboo. Recognize that money is going to continue to be an issue for the rest of your lives and the sooner you can both address it, the fewer problems you’ll have down the road. Most likely, your significant other feels the same as you — not excited to talk about it. But like most important subjects in life — children, career decisions, buying a home — it’s worth discussing with each other.
Recognize Your Relationship to Money
Financial intimacy can’t be easily achieved if you don’t understand your own relationship with money. What were your parents’ views on money? How did that shape your own? What pitfalls do you have with spending, saving, or addressing your finances? Why are you unwilling to talk about money with your partner? How would you like to see things change in both your own and your significant other’s relationship with money?
Talk, and Talk Regularly
Once you’ve reflected on the issues that may be affecting your finances, it’s time to discuss it with your partner. Start the conversation, and do it from a place of love and understanding. Start the conversation by saying you know that many relationships end because of finances, and you don’t want to be another statistic. Don’t blame or accuse. You may discover your significant other feels very similarly to you. Once you begin, have regular discussions. Focus on the positive: your hopes, dreams, and goals. Work together for a better financial future. Don’t be a statistic. Be an exception.
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