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How to Prevent Money Fights Before They Start

Follow these steps to clear the air and get on track for your financial future.
couple fighting over money
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Nicole Hannel
by Nicole Hannel
Updated Jul 18, 2019

We've all had that fight. The one about the budget, spending, or just finances in general. Maybe you want to buy that TV, and your partner wants to take that trip. Or maybe debt is a dirty word, because so much of it has piled up. Talking money with your partner is hard, and often, questions about finances go unasked to avoid tension.

If this sounds familiar, don't worry. You're not alone. The truth is, fighting over money is one of the most common conflicts in a relationship. Why? Because money is loaded with meaning. It makes us feel good and bad.

When we are fighting over money, we're not actually fighting about dollars in the bank. We're fighting about our conflicting feelings about money. 

Everyone has a unique history with money, one that influences how you view spending, saving, debt, and income. This means, you may feel totally fine dropping some cash on a new spring wardrobe, but you worry that eating out is too extravagant. Or maybe your partner is comfortable spending more on new furniture but not on travel. These small preferences are informed by your past experiences.

In a survey of nearly 126,000 married couples, relationship counseling app Lasting found that 54.7 percent of men and 57.9 percent of women were unsatisfied with their conversations about budgets and finances—more than half! And 65 percent of men and 67.2 percent of women were unsatisfied with their savings plan.

Can you relate? If yes, here's what you can do to make fighting over money less frequent.

Reflect on your own relationship with money.

What was your parents' view on spending? How did money affect your childhood? Do you equate certain possessions with respect or success? All this history forms the foundation of your perspective. Then consider: How does my history with money impact our current situation? What about the future?

Learn more about your partner's relationship with money.

Why does your partner feel a certain way about saving or spending? Ask them about their history with money or about their family's relationship to finances. Take time to learn more about the why behind your partner's financial decisions. This will highlight where you have differences of opinion, which is the first step in bringing an end to fighting over money and finding healthy compromises. Lasting suggests a question like, "Can you explain to me why you value this purchase?" to gain more insight.

Prioritize the team.

This is called the "we." When you're fighting over money, stop and think about what's best for your relationship, rather than each individual. Use these moments of tension to build trust between you instead. Lasting says that interactions about money are actually attempts to connect and feel supported by each other. In these conversations, you're really asking, "Can I trust you? Will you be there for me?" Sometimes, the best way to show support is to sacrifice for the good of the team. It's in that place of mutual sacrifice that your relationship health is strongest.

For more tools to help you talk through your feelings about money, download Lasting today and check out the Money series. For more on how to handle fights, check out the series on Conflict. Remember, if you're fighting over money, you're not alone, but with these tips, you can work together with your partner to build a strong financial future.

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