On the Same Page – A guide to managing money & conflict in relationships

by Verve

If you’ve ever argued with your spouse or partner over money, you’re not alone. Research conducted by Relationships Australia shows that financial stress is the number one cause of relationship breakdown for all couples, not just those who are married. 

Other research indicates that couples’ arguments about money tend to be more intense, more problematic and more likely to remain unresolved.

But money doesn’t have to be a problem in your relationship. With practice, you and your partner can learn to talk about and manage your finances in a healthier, less stressful way, even if you have differing beliefs and habits with money. 

We develop beliefs about money long before we join our finances with a romantic partner. Research shows we inherit attitudes, values and beliefs about money from our parents and other family members and form our relationship with money from early childhood. 

Early on in a relationship, many couples discuss their views on marriage, children and where they want to work and live and goals for the future, but unfortunately, many couples rarely sit down together to talk about their financial beliefs and goals.

When it comes to financial responsibilities, couples don’t always work as a team or share an equal role in day-to-day money management and financial decision-making. 

A good way to manage money as a couple is to share roles equally. This an be achieved by setting up a regular day and time each month to sit down, pay the bills, discuss your expenses and review your debt management, saving and investing plans. One way to make it more enjoyable is to schedule something fun for after the money talk; if you know you’ll be going to the movies or on a bike ride afterwards, your money date may feel less like a chore.

If your financial discussions become heated, take a time out and revisit them later. When it comes to money, you and your spouse may not always see eye to eye. But with good communication and an understanding of each other’s beliefs and values, you can work together to realise your shared financial goals. 

We recently ran an event at Verve about Money Conversations and how to tackle conflict around money with our partners. 

The key takeaways and some of our favourite insights from Sharron & Lea during the event:

  • Remember that you are a team, and your values are equally important to your partner. Getting on the same page with another person about your finances requires a team approach, making a plan for your individual and joint priorities and goals. 
  • Create a system that caters to both your needs and values. If you need help with this, speak to a counsellor, financial coach or adviser.
  • What are your and your partner’s core money values: Security/Success/Freedom
  • Enter the conversation with goodwill and remain curious during difficult discussions
  • Take time out when it feels overwhelming
  • Engage in small conversations more often

If you and your partner find yourself in regular money conflict, then one helpful communication tool you could try is nonviolent communication. This is a helpful communication framework that can be used to help diffuse a situation and better communicate. 

It’s a tool that allows you to clearly express how we are feeling and what you need, without blaming or criticising, and the other person has an opportunity to empathetically hear what you are saying without feeling blamed or criticised. 

The nonviolent communication script has four components to it, Observations, Feelings, Needs and Requests. It follows a simple script of “When I observe this, whatever it is, I feel that doesn’t meet my need, and I’m requesting this”.

There are four components to the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) model, as developed by Marshall Rosenberg, PhD. The 4-Part NVC Process can guide you to express your needs in what would otherwise feel like a confronting situation. 

If your conflict around money escalates or you feel that you are unable to get on the same page and resolve an argument about monye, we suggest that you seek professional help. 

Here are some resources to support healthy conversations and relationships —

Other resources that we can suggest if you’re in a situation of financial or domestic abuse or violence include —

This blog is published by Verve Superannuation Pty Ltd (ABN 65 628 675 169, AFS Representative No. 001268903), which is a Corporate Authorised Representative of True Oak Investments Ltd (ABN 81 002 558 956, AFSL 238184), as the Sub-Promoter of Verve Super. 

Verve Superannuation Pty Ltd and True Oak Investments Ltd are not licensed to provide personal financial advice. The information contained in this blog, including any financial guidance, is general in nature. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to ensure that your financial decisions are suited to your unique circumstances.

You should read the Product Disclosure StatementAdditional Information BookletInsurance GuideTarget Market Determination and Financial Services Guide before making a decision to acquire, hold or continue to hold an interest in Verve Super. When considering financial returns, past performance is not indicative of future performance.

 

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