Do Money Arguments Doom Your Relationship to Failure?

Many couples argue about money, but it doesn’t have to hurt your relationship. (Photo: Getty Images)
Many couples argue about money, but it doesn’t have to hurt your relationship. (Photo: Getty Images)

Couples fight about money. That’s a statement as old as the first trading post. But a new survey from teases out more details in regard to what most people in relationships argue about when it comes to money. The numbers also help highlight some ways that people can resolve financial conflicts with their partners.

Of the more than 4,000 people surveyed, 51 percent said they have fought about money in their current or most recent serious relationship. Among those who said they were currently married or living with a partner, the biggest causes of those arguments were one of them spending too much (17 percent) or being too frugal (12 percent). Another 6 percent said they were due to one partner being dishonest about spending or saving, and only 6 percent said they fought about how to divide up their bills.

Cashlorette founder Sarah Berger said the data show that people need to have honest conversations about their financial habits and expectations, even before things get serious.

“I think it could help in determining whether or not you’re compatible with someone,” Berger tells Yahoo Beauty. “I think that for a relationship to work, it doesn’t mean your view on money has to be completely identical. Maybe it’s complementary. Having a clear understanding, though, of what your partner’s view on finances is, is very important. Whether they’re super-frugal or like to treat themselves, just knowing that ahead of time is critical.”

Before you move in with your sweetheart, Berger advises, it’s also a good idea to find out his or her credit score. Not to hold their past mistakes against them, but so you’ll be able to figure out how to reach your own financial goals, such as buying a house one day, despite the potential challenges.

The good news? Arguing over finances doesn’t have to make or break a relationship.

“Our approach to money reflects our values,” Jean Fitzpatrick, a relationship therapist in New York, tells Yahoo. “Conflicts about money or anything else can be helpful in building understanding between partners. That happens when partners avoid trying to ‘win’ an argument and shift their focus to creating a relationship that will work for both of them. I tell couples that they need to stop fighting a tug-of-war and start thinking of their relationship as a jigsaw puzzle with each of them holding essential pieces.”

One solution Berger suggests is to have separate bank accounts. A survey from Bankrate earlier this summer found that 51 percent of those married or living with a partner had separate accounts or a combination of separate and joint accounts.

Rather than focusing on their differences and labeling one person a spender and the other a saver, Fitzpatrick says, couples can find a place of compromise if they try.

“Sit down and create a budget or plan that includes joint spending on the basics like rent or mortgage as well as savings, and be sure each partner has a fund they can spend however they want, like on a mani-pedi or a beer with buddies,” Fitzpatrick says. “Agree on a dollar amount you won’t spend without consulting your partner. Chances are you won’t buy a car on your own! No adult wants to report on every expenditure, but individual choices need to work in the big picture.”

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