We all know how money can affect relationships negatively. After all it’s one of the most common things that couples argue about. However, have you ever thought about how money can affect relationships in positive ways? Whether for good or bad, communication is the key to dealing with money in your marriage or primary relationship.
How Money Can Affect Relationships Negatively
Money is one of the biggest sources of conflict in most marriages. Even before you get married (if you choose to do so), money can rear its ugly head in your relationship. Here are just a few of the most common ways how money can affect relationships negatively:
- When one of you out-earns the other, it can lead to feelings associated with a sense of power imbalance. This can also relate to strain over ingrained beliefs about gender roles in the home.
- One of you has significantly more debt than the other which creates arguments. Similarly, if you have different viewpoints about how to deal with debt, then you could end up resenting one another.
- You have different money personalities. For example, one is a spender and the other a saver. If you don’t respect each other’s approaches, then you could have a problem.
- If you haven’t discussed your long-term goals then you might not be on the same page financially. This can show up in arguments over day-to-day spending.
Money is rarely just about money. People come to the topic with a lot of emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Many of these things have less to do with money and more to do with beliefs about career, identity, family, power, security, and love. If you’re not discussing the underlying issues, then you can end up fighting about money. Since money isn’t the true issue, the problem is never resolved.
How Money Can Affect Relationships Positively
It’s easy to become afraid of dealing with money in your marriage. However, it helps if you think about how money can affect relationships positively. If you have open, authentic communication, respect one another, and are willing to compromise, then money can actually be the source of some beautiful things in your relationship.
For example, one of you may become physically or mentally ill and thus unable to work. This could add up to a lot of medical debt as well. If you approach this setback in a healthy way, then it can be a period that strengthens your relationship.
The spouse that is able to carry the couple financially during this time may feel like they have a small bit of control during a scary time. The spouse that is ill may experience a kind of relief that gives them space to heal. It’s not an easy time, but it doesn’t have to be one in which money is the enemy.
It’s All About Communication
There are several similar scenarios that have the potential to be negative but could also be positive for your relationship. More than anything else, though, you can work together to use the vehicle of money as the starting point to discuss those deeper issues. If you recognize that it’s not really about money, then you can dig into the deeper emotions and issues at the core of the problem.
For example, let’s say that you’re fighting about one person working while the other is a stay-at-home parent. You fight about the lack of money or how money is spent. Underlying issues might include:
- Fears by the stay-at-home parent that they aren’t doing enough to support the home
- The stay-at-home parents feelings of losing their financial autonomy and what that means about their identity and life options
- Hesitation by the stay-at-home parent to express times they’re dissatisfied with staying home because they’re “lucky” not to have to work
- Fear by the working parent that the children are closer with the other parent
- Resentment by the working parent that they have to be at work all day
- Emotions about the power dynamic that might relate back to childhood issues
Those are just a few of the things that might be unsaid when fighting about money. If you can discuss money practically and respectfully, then you can make space to deal with those other issues. It’s all about communication. The more you learn to talk about money with each other, the more ways you’ll see how money can affect relationships positively.