February is often known as the month of romance. Mid-February is marked by Valentine’s Day, a day of symbolic gestures of love. And while it is great to have a day of romance, flowers and chocolate may be less helpful to a relationship than sustainable strategies around everyday issues such as money.
Money is one of the top pressures couples face.
Unfortunately, money is a leading cause of relationship breakdown. We are often taught from an early age never to discuss money, it’s rude. We sometimes carry this lesson into our relationships. Pro-tip: Don’t do it.
It is critical to discuss money when you are entering a committed relationship.
Your conversations should include both the practical aspects and the symbolic meaning of money. Just as roses and chocolates symbolize love, money represents different things to different people. Money can represent power, safety, scarcity, status, freedom and much more. Having a clear understanding of your partner’s point of view can help to reduce money stress and make for a better relationship.
If money represents security to your partner, it may be very important to them that you carry minimal debt and your bank account remain above a certain limit. An unexpected change may cause anxiety and a corresponding negative response towards your relationship.
The solution is to develop clear expectations and have day-to-day practices that align with those expectations. Develop a budget and determine who is responsible for which components. Have a strategy for debt and savings. Consider your future goals as a couple. Are you planning to have children? If the answer is yes, start saving to help offset the decline in income and increase in expenses.
It doesn’t end with one conversation
Continue to communicate about money on a regular basis throughout your relationship. Avoid the temptation to only discuss finances when there is a problem. Set up a regular financial date together at least once a month. Do this during a time of day that you feel fresh and set up a pleasant environment. Grab a cup of tea and a piece of toast and work at your finances together as a team.
Special holiday’s such as Valentine’s Day can give relationships a boost. But respectful and regular communication about important topics such as money can give them what they need to thrive and survive.