Some couples argue about housework. Some couples argue about in-laws. Some couples argue about how many children to have. But I can guarantee, that every couple will argue about money at some point in their relationship. It doesn't matter whether you're living paycheck-to-paycheck or have more money in your account than you know what to do with. Because as you'll soon see, arguments about money aren't about the money at all. These arguments are actually about a variety of other issues. The next time you and your partner argue about finances, see if the two of you are actually arguing about any of these issues underneath the surface.
1. Differing values and priorities
What we spend our money on says a lot about us. How much do we donate to those in need? How much do we spend on hobbies we enjoy? How much do we spend on taking care of our health? When couples are disagreeing about what to spend money on, it often comes down to one partner thinking that the money shouldn't be spent on what the other person wants to spend it on. This is why you commonly see differences between those classified as "spenders" and those classified as "savers." Spenders tend to value spontaneity, convenience, and fun while savers tend to value preparedness, goal-setting, and work before play. Even if both people in a relationship are "savers" or "spenders", there will likely come a time where they disagree on what to save for or what to spend their money on. One person might want to save for a vacation while the other wants to save for their child's college fund; one person might want to spend money on ordering take out while the other would rather they spend their money on a weekend excursion, viewing take-out as unnecessary. The next time you find yourself disagreeing with your partner's spending habits, see if it has to do with them valuing or prioritizing something that you don't think is that important - you may be surprised how often this arises.
2. Feeling unequal
While some couples have the exact same income, most couples differ in how much money they make. One person may work while the other stays home with the kids; one may work part-time while the other works full-time, or both people in a partnership may work in vastly different fields. Regardless of the reason for differing incomes, issues can come up related to equality. The person making less income may feel guilty that they are not contributing more to the household or may struggle to talk about their inability to afford things as easily as the other person can; the person making more money may feel resentful that financial responsibility falls primarily on them or they may not realize the power that this gives them in the relationship to make decisions. It's also important that both people in the relationship have some money that feels like theirs - money that they can spend on whatever they want, independently of their partner. This becomes much more challenging when there is an imbalance in income. It can lead to one person feeling "dependent" on the other or bothered that their partner gets more money to spend than they do because they have more income. If you and your partner do not make the same amount of money, it is hugely important to talk about how this affects your relationship and how each of you feel about this. If you haven't already, start taking steps to figure out how you both can get your needs met financially with the money you share together.
3. Fear about the future
Let's be honest: without money, we can't live. We can't have a roof over our head or food on our table. We can't have gas in a car or clothes on our backs. Money is crucial and if you and your partner don't have high-paying jobs, one or both of you may regularly experience stress related to finances. Whenever stress around money comes up, it can put a huge strain on a couple. The strain can also come from one person worrying while the other isn't. Most of the time when people are worried about money, what they are really worried about is what's going to happen in the future, ranging from worries about what will happen if they can't pay the rent this month to worrying about being able to afford the flight back home for a family member's wedding to worrying about affording college for their children. Whether you make decent money or very little, there are often worries about the future tied up with finances. Many couples don't want to talk about these concerns; it can feel easier to turn the other way and not acknowledge the dwindling balance in the bank account than it is to sit down and say, "What are we going to do?" If you and your partner have been addressing financial fears by avoiding them, it's time to change that pattern. Talk about what you're worried about and why. See if the two of you are able to put your heads together to come up with a plan and support each other through a tough financial time.