Most couples fight, but financial arguments often have a lasting effects on a relationship. Several studies have found a correlation between financial disagreements and divorce, and these arguments also affect relationships in other stages as well. According to research done by Kansas State University, arguments about money are the top predictor of divorce. This may be because it takes longer to recover from an argument about money than it does to recover from other arguments, and these arguments decrease relationship satisfaction, according to the research.
Since arguments about money can lead to divorce or the end of a relationship, it’s important to get financial problems in order so that you can avoid these fights. There are many financial problems that couples face, and some are really detrimental. Here are five financial problems that can eventually kill your relationship if you don’t deal with them.
1. Hiding debt or poor spending habits
If you truly want to trust someone, and have them trust you, then you need to be open and transparent with them about most things. If you are starting a new relationship, you don’t need to go into great detail about your debt or spending habits (and you might scare away your potential partner if you do). However, once you are in a committed relationship that you see lasting for a long time, it’s important to discuss where you are financially, particularly if you plan to move in together or eventually get married.
Not only can lying about your debt or spending habits — or simply failing to tell your partner about them — potentially cause a lack of trust, but if you wait too long, you may later find that you and your partner are on completely different paths as far as finances go. This can be devastating to a relationship. Money issues can cause feelings of shame, fear, and isolation, and those are sometimes hard to get past.
2. Harming your partner’s credit or savings
While most people who truly care about another person would never intentionally destroy the credit of their partner, this can happen if you let fail to pay bills or keep up your part of a financial agreement. Often couples purchase a home together, a car, or they make other purchases together under the assumption that both people will pay for the item. If you or your partner fails to pay your share and an account becomes delinquent, this can ruin your partner’s credit in addition to your relationship.
Another way to quickly kill a relationship is to eat away at your partner’s savings account or to take money without asking them first. While many people would lend money to a partner (or give it completely), if you regularly take advantage of your partner’s stronger savings habits, or they do the same to you, your relationship probably won’t last.
3. Not discussing purchases before you make them
Once you begin to share or pool your money together, it’s important that you lay out ground rules. You need to determine at what price point you are going to talk to each other about a purchase, and when it’s acceptable to just spend money as you see fit. It’s best to come up with these rules as early as possible, because otherwise you risk having a big argument if one person purchases something with joint money without asking.
The line becomes a little less clear if you are in a committed relationship, but you are not pooling your money. Still, if you have agreed to save for a vacation or a home together, but then you go out and buy a car, it’s likely that your partner will be upset. So even if you are still keeping your money separate, you should have a plan for just how separate that money really is. Otherwise, you risk someone feeling resentful or angry, which can start a fight, and eventually harm your relationship.
4. Not figuring out the details
Whether you are dating, married, or just starting to know each other, it’s important to figure out who will pay for things and when. Men are not necessarily in charge of every restaurant bill anymore. If possible, figure out who is paying ahead of time when you go on a date, or split the bill. If you are living with someone or married, sit down and figure out who is going to pay for which bills (if your money is still separate), or when bills will get paid and who is going to keep track of them (if you are married or have joint finances). Also figure out how much you want to save and what your future goals are together. If you regularly wing financial decisions, you may find that you fight more often, and that your relationship takes a hit.
5. Being too controlling
No one wants to be in a controlling relationship, and if you or your partner regularly shows financially controlling behaviors, this can be a red flag for the other person. Money decisions should be made together, and if you are your partner gets angry or upset when the other person tries to have a say in a discussion, this can come off as controlling. It can also damage a relationship if one person demands to keep track of all of the money and won’t let the other person make any decisions. Another financially controlling behavior is to criticize your partner’s decisions, or to accuse them of being too frugal or too loose with money in a demeaning way and with no intention of trying to make the situation better.
There are many other financial problems that can harm a relationship. According to U.S. News & World Report, the best ways to avoid money arguments with your spouse includes being open about your finances, sharing information, having a budget, understanding your partner’s money personality, and discussing your family history. Of course, you should also avoid the five financial problems listed above that can take a toll on any relationship.