How to have a conversation about money with your significant other

Breaking taboos surrounding uncomfortable money discussions 
By Hannah Jo Uy

Talking about money is always tough but it’s necessary, especially between two people who want to start a life together

Most of us were raised with the notion that talking about money is vulgar. There are many instances where this may be the truly be the case, after all there is a time and a place for everything. But, like with anything else, taking this to the extreme can have long-term consequences, especially when it comes to your relationship with your partner. 

In a 2018 article, Marketwatch discussed how “financial disagreements predicted divorce more strongly than other common problem areas like disagreements over household tasks or spending time together.” It also highlighted data released by financial firm TD Ameritrade, which found that “41% of divorced Gen Xers and 29% of Boomers say they ended their marriage due to disagreements about money.”

Relationships are hard enough but while money can be a deeply uncomfortable topic to discuss with your significant other, especially if both parties are coming from drastically different socio-economic backgrounds, it is a necessary one. Especially when you are looking to build a life with this person. There are many ways to go about broaching the topic with your partner, and only you can decide on the best approach. However, once the conversation has begun it is important to touch on two main areas. 

First, discuss where you stand. How does your monthly budget look like? What are your priorities? Are you expected to help your siblings with their educational expenses? Are you responsible for medical bills of relatives? Are you planning to switch jobs or career tracks, which may mean not having a regular income for a certain period of time? What sort of vacations and activities can you plan that will not put an unnecessary strain on the finances of one partner? Having a clear understanding of where each individual stands is so important. 

Secondly, discuss where you both see yourself in the future. Are you saving to move to another country? Would you like to study to work in another field? Will you oversee your family’s expenses as your parents retire? It may be intimidating to touch on these subjects. Maybe you think it is too personal, it feels too heavy, or perhaps both of you don’t know about what you want, but having a vague idea of short-term goals and getting the conversation going is a big help. 

In many ways, talking about what financial health means to both parties, could be another relationship milestone to look forward and it can serve as such an important platform to discuss your respective priorities and aspirations. These are important discussions we should be having, with ourselves and with our partners because minor miscommunications can so easily develop into deep wounds. The more we normalize such authentic conversations with our loved ones, even just among friends, the more we can improve the overall quality of our life and our relationships.