When failure to communicate finance positions breaks relationships

In many of the speaking engagements I have had with organisations or during wedding send-offs, one of the most common themes I get requested to talk on is the financial challenges that exist in relationships. A person lives with someone or is in business partnership with someone and is unsure about how to handle their partner’s debt, spending or shared purchases.

There are a few key elements that really form a strong foundation of how people in relationships should think about and handle their money—whether in marriage or business set-up. I will offer you free advice. Ignore it and I bet we will meet at your marriage counselor’s or even at the court while you are filing divorce papers.

Talking about money in a relationship is absolutely essential. When you are in a relationship intense enough that you are sharing many of the costs of life, you have to be able to communicate clearly about those costs, as well as the income you both have with which to cover them and the plans you each have for the future. Why is this important? I will give you two solid reasons:

First, the debts and expenses of your partner are also your debts and expenses. If you owe a debt and have to make a monthly debt payment, that takes money out of the shared resource pool. If you spend money somewhere, that money is removed from the overall pool with which you could have used to cover your joint monthly bills.

Second, hiding debts and expenses from your partner affects them in many ways and is deeply dishonest and damaging to your relationship. Since your spending alters how your partner is able to spend money, hiding a debt or an expense from your partner is essentially the same thing as taking money out of their pocket without telling them why. This undermines financial stability. It undermines the trust in your relationship. It makes your partner to unfairly shoulder an additional burden without even knowing why. Usually, the root cause of this is a communication breakdown.

If you can’t talk about money freely with each other, then your relationship is on tenuous ground. A relationship is about mutual support. If you can’t talk about your financial situation because you think it shows weakness, then you are not mutually supportive. If you can’t talk about your financial situation because you fear retribution, then your relationship is at best combative and at worst abusive.

If you can’t communicate through your mistakes and honestly evaluate your full financial situation together on a regular basis, your entire relationship is on shaky grounds. You need to take a serious look about whether this relationship is something you should be continuing, because there are some deep trust issues running right through the relationship.

The solution to all of this is simple: Communicate. Talk about everything with your partner around finance-related decisions.

Blessed weekend to you and yours!

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