The Way We Are Now – It takes two report was released today and highlights the biggest strain on relationships as money worries with over half of those who took part in the survey experiencing this pressure.
Not surprisingly the report also found that those in lower income households, where arguments about money may be more pervasive, are most likely to experience lower relationship satisfaction with more unresolved arguments.
So how can we guard against money worries placing our relationships under strain?
1. Be open and honest with each other
When couples come for relationship counselling with money worries; one of the things they have usually struggled with is to actually sit down and talk about it together. Couples need to make lots of decisions about money very early on in their relationships. Do you want to have a joint bank account? How much will you save, if anything? How will you organise payment of bills and how will you prioritise spending? And these are just a few of the decisions couples should be considering when planning to spend their lives together.
Too often couples worry about telling their partner about their spending for example, how many times have you bought something new to wear only to say to your partner when they say: "is that new?" For you to reply, "No! I’ve had this for ages" (or is this just me?)
Or how often do you look at something and know deep down you can’t afford it, but find yourself at the checkout having convinced yourself you deserve it?
It is so important to be honest with ourselves and our partners about our spending habits, as it is only when we do this that we are able to work out a budget that is realistic and achievable.
2. Prepare for the future
Do you want to save for retirement, the holiday of a lifetime or something else? The list of things to save for is endless, but the important thing is to have the conversation and to be working towards your future goals together.
3. Learn to live big with little cash
For those who need to watch every penny, it’s about thinking how you can still enjoy yourselves on a small budget. It is difficult to feel we are ‘living life to the full’ when we also have to watch every penny, especially when others around us seem to have more; and the reality is we do all need a certain level of income to live. However, taking the focus away from things that cost money can help. A walk in the park costs nothing as does spending time with our family and friends.
4. Ask for help
Recognising you need help and asking for it is essential. Too often we try to carry on even when we know deep down we are no longer able to manage. Most arguing between couples happens at this point. There is help available though, both specific debt management and relationship support.
5. Keep communicating
Ultimately though it comes down to communication, talking to each other openly and honestly and allowing the time and space for this to happen. Setting aside time each week to discuss your finances will help to prevent unnecessary arguments further down the line.
Jenny Porter is the Director of Client Services at Marriage Care, the largest faith-based relationship support charity in the UK. Marriage Care delivers counselling and marriage preparation services through a network of 53 centres, more than 100 counselling locations and the sheer dedication of over 700 professionally trained and accredited volunteers