I hate when couples say, “We never argue”—mainly because it gives me a complex about what is happening in my own relationship, but also because I think it’s a crock of shit. I’ve had a couple of long-term relationships in my day and I will tell you one argument that I know FOR SURE you have all had at one point or will have in your future: money. Now, some of you may have been blessed with millions of dollars at your disposal and therefore you never need to worry or argue about money and to you I say, “Bite me.” Kidding (ish).
However, for some of us, money is the one thing we argue most about. It doesn’t matter what type of relationship you are in, the money argument doesn’t discriminate. It’s all-inclusive and will make you want to rip your head off at the mere thought of discussing it.
My wife and I can barely look at each other while we talk about money. Sometimes we are in separate rooms “talking about it” very loudly, if you know what I mean. Probably because she is an accountant in real life and she cannot understand why I feel the need to purchase 18 candles from Ikea. (All I’m trying to do is make a nice home for us—is that too much to ask?)
Sometimes money can feel like a dark cloud over your relationship and I am here to say you are not alone! I have spent the last 15 years arguing about money in one way or another, so let me share a few tips with you to get you through the money argument and on to the more fun arguments like whose turn it is to pick up the dog poop.
Disclaimer: I am not a financial advisor, nor do I care to be. This is simply what I have learned about helping deal with the money argument and I am sharing it with you. If you want actual financial advice, Suze Orman is your gal.
Don’t proclaim you are on a budget. One day we decided that’s it—we are on a strict budget. We downloaded budget apps, listened to online courses about living a fun life while on a budget and told all of our friends, “WE ARE ON A BUDGET.” Within 24 hours, we were fighting more about what falls into “wants” or “needs” and if that’s in the frickin’ budget. The pressure of the word budget was just too much for us because we have very different views on what that word means. You are better off just saying “Let’s try and save a little money” then making it feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders if you buy a pack of gum.
Stop holding money over each other’s heads. I don’t know about you, but there were times when my wife and I were dating, that I needed to borrow money from her in order fix my piece of shit car or I was behind on my rent and needed her help. We’ve all been there! The difference is, when you love someone and are in a relationship with them, constantly reminding them about the times you loaned them money after they have paid you back is going to eventually wear you both down and widen the space between you. If they have paid you back, DROP IT.
Don’t compare who makes more. This is the making for a break up right here, folks. The one who makes more money, should not be the one who holds the power. I was once a stay at home mom and I remember feeling like I did nothing to contribute to our bills and having so much guilt if I bought myself new underwear, because my ex-husband “worked like a dog”—as if taking care of children all day is a walk in the park, buddy! It was okay if he spent the money, but because I didn’t make any on my own at that point, I felt like I was weak and no longer part of the decision making. Don’t make the person who makes less than you feel like they aren’t equal to you.
Do your bills together. Whether you have separate bills and bank accounts, or joint bills and an account together, going over your bills can be eye opening once you see how much each person is spending on what. In our house, my wife is mainly the person who does our bill processing (because she is the accountant, remember?). However, when she is doing the bills for that month, sitting down with her and going over everything together is far more productive then arguing later about how much money is left in our account. Again, it boils down to team work.
Do I have this all figured out? HELL NO. At the end of the day, money will always be a topic of discussion between you and your partner, so to expect to never argue about it again is a pretty high expectation to put on one another. All we can do is to remind ourselves that this does not have to be an argument and have a plan of attack for the conversation. If it starts to get to be too intense, take a break and eat some ice cream. No one can ever argue while eating ice cream.
Follow Erin Faith Wilson on Twitter: @erinfaithwilson