What Money Tells You About Your Relationship
Money is one of the most important factors within a relationship and it is actually an indicator of the trust within a relationship. One of the biggest complaints I hear from female members of partnerships is “We don’t even have a joint account.” The issue is not so much whether the money is in joint names or not. Sometimes for business or tax purposes it is better to have separate money. Some couples find it easier to manage their money that way. What the clients are really complaining about is the level of trust in the relationship. That their partner will trust them enough, that they won’t spend all the money, or leave them and clean out the bank account.
The reality is whether your name is on the bank account or not, it means little if your committed relationship breaks up. In Australia, legally the amount of time you spend together and or your contribution to the relationship is what dictates the financial settlement you would expect. Forensic accountants can trace accounts to make sure that finances are divided equally.
The reason there is often distrust between couples can come from past relationships. If a person has been financially burned before they are going to find it very difficult to trust again. Or if the person has had a very unstable upbringing they are going to find it very difficult to trust anyone.
However, the other factor in the mix can be the way money is perceived. There are two ways people tend to view money
- Future focused – save now and spend later.
- Present focused – spend now worry about the future later.
These two ways of managing money are very different and can be the source of conflict and ultimately lack of trust within a relationship. Each has its positives and negatives. If you are future focussed, you find it easy to work towards goals and achieve security. However, it can be difficult to stop looking forward and realise when it is time to stop and enjoy what you have worked for. Present focussed means that you have a great time in the moment, but you may fail to have money set aside for a future crisis or plan ahead.
The ideal is to find a happy medium between the two money styles so that you enjoy the moment while planning together to achieve goals.
If one partner doesn’t trust the other, and holds all the money and doesn’t give any opportunity for the other partner to be reliable with money, then there is no opportunity for a trust picture to form. If one partner holds all the money and gives the other an allowance, then that is a form of financial abuse. Conversely, if accounts are shared, and agreed boundaries around money are not respected, then this is also a form of abuse.
Money represents an opportunity to work together, to build communication, commitment and trust in the relationship. As shared goals are negotiated, you work as a team. One person handling all the money and keeping the other in the dark is a form of power and control that is abusive.
Talking about money, setting an agreed family budget, being open and transparent about what is and is not possible and actioning your goals together is the foundation of a healthy relationship.
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