Open-mindedness and compromise are key in any relationship—especially when discussing money.
When you see the trash bag is close to overflowing, thereʼs always that part of you that assumes your partner will notice the near-spillage and replace it. Am I right?
The only trouble is, your partner may assume the same of you. Itʼs this kind of miscommunication that can turn a sweet relationship sour—and your household finances into a stinking mess.
When I talk to couples about how they share their financial burden, Iʼm struck by how many of them arenʼt on the same page. For instance, itʼs common for both halves of a couple to simply assume their partner will be the one to pick up an extra job in the event of a financial emergency. The lower-earning spouse might naturally assume the other will pick up the tab in the event of a financial catastrophe—an expensive medical emergency, say. But since that higher earner covers the mortgage, for example, they might assume the same of their partner. Thatʼs why a conversation about hypothetical scenarios is a priority for all couples—right up there with who takes out the trash.
True equality is about sharing, not splittingThe trick is to recognize your actual strengths rather than fall into the traditional gender roles that may have been modeled by your parents or the sitcom characters you grew up with. If it works for you to pool everything into a joint account, where thereʼs a maximum transparency and trust, do it.
Iʼm constantly surprised to hear how the majority of couples donʼt have a joint account in addition to their personal bank accounts. There are clear benefits to sharing a joint emergency fund for those unexpected expenses where it isnʼt immediately clear who should pick up the tab (e.g. the air conditioner breaks down). Money is one of the major relationship wreckers, and having a shared pool of money may minimize tension when those costly emergencies inevitably arise.
What to bring to the tableApproach the conversation with an open mind—willing to make compromises for your partnerʼs wants, even when they donʼt align with yours. More importantly, make sure you choose the right time to have this conversation; neither of you will be very sympathetic to the otherʼs needs while rushing to gym class or after a particularly stressful day. Some points to cover:
The important thing is to come to an agreement on who is responsible for what—so that everyone feels they are doing their fair share. Iʼve found that the continual realignment of goals, negotiating and compromising brings couples closer together.
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