This week's guest post comes from Ivey Gaskin Baker. Ivey is a Certified Financial Planner and Business Development Manager at Gaskin Asset Management in Charlotte, NC.
As my household begins a total kitchen remodel, I have spent some time thinking about how money drastically impacts one's relationship with his or her spouse after large expenses and spending sprees.
According to the Austin Institute of Family and Culture, "Financial priorities and spending patterns continue to remain one of the top five issues that will cause divorce." Why is that?
The root of the issue might be with our own personal relationship with money; do we “see” and “relate” to money in the same way as our partner? These days there are so many different types of financial relationships: One partner is the breadwinner while the other makes the financial decisions; both partners are equal earners but one is more financially savvy and makes most of the decisions; or maybe the primary breadwinner also pays the bills and leaves their partner completely out of the loop. In each of these cases, the primary problem is that the important financial decisions are made by one person, leaving the other person in the dark. Money can be an emotionally charged topic in a relationship and must be approached with a mutual respect for both partner's opinions.
Couples that claim to have issues with money often learn that the issue stems from a lack of communication and understanding, or from differing upbringings and past experiences. One way to expand one's understanding would be to read Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages. Chapman’s book seeks to reveal how partners give and receive love and communicate with eachother. Knowing your love language can greatly improve your ability to communicate with your partner in discussing your relationship with money and how you want to spend it.
Acknowledging your partner’s upbringing is equally important and shouldn't be dismissed. For instance, if a husband makes a good living but is a spendthrift, it could potentially be because he grew up in a frugal home; He now feels that because he has the means, he can fulfill his every desire. In communicating with your partner, it is important to listen and understand the motivation behind the financial decisions they make, and how each choice may help or harm the couple in the long term.
The way you and your partner spend, save and invest can be points of affection if approached correctly. It may be easier to choose things alone, but it is terribly important to make financial decisions together. Routinely discussing and reviewing monthly patterns of income versus spending, practicing gratitude through charitable giving, investing in the education of one's children, or deciding what investments to make in your home, business or retirement portfolio. The decision to start a relationship or start a family is certainly not a one-sided conversation, so why should financial decisions be treated any differently?
*Photos by Good House Keeping