How and Why Money Problems Can Destroy a Relationship

Money is something that everyone has to have, at least some of it. But the problem with money, or the lack of it, is a serious one. It’s bad enough when you yourself are dealing with a money problem, but it’s even worse when it involves you and someone else. When money problems arise between you and a significant other, money problems can destroy your relationship!

Understanding how money problems in a relationship form will help you to avoid those issues. Here are suggestions to balance your relationship and money.

Are You and Your Partner Fighting About Money?

Is money something you and your partner argue about all the time? It’s often a very common issue in relationships to have extremely different opinions about money. Why? Where does that come from?

Because everyone grows up with certain expectations and experiences with finances that carry over into how you feel about the almighty dollar as an adult, our significant other may have had a completely different money experience in their own family. When that happens, it can be very difficult to meet in the middle.

Money Stress

According to studies, almost three out of four people said they felt stressed out about money issues. Today, during a pandemic that is affecting the entire world, that number is probably even higher than that!

The reasons for it are fairly clear. When unemployment factors in, money becomes even more of a stress-related issue, How will you pay for the things you really need like food, clothing, and shelter. How will your monthly bills get paid? Then when you also factor in the luxuries of life, the things you want, money stress becomes even more severe. Money stress in relationships causes conflict in about one third of all couples regularly.

That stress, if it lasts long enough, may translate into very serious problems affecting your relationship, ultimately leading to divorce or a split if differences can’t be worked out in a constructive way.

Understand the Emotions Tied To Money

Again, your own experiences dealing with money as a child tend to directly affect your financial outlook in adulthood. If you had a parent with spendthrift habits that disrupted your family, you might be the opposite as an adult. Or you might follow directly in their footsteps, repeating those detrimental patterns.

For most of us, what we know about money comes from our parents. It is who we see and learn from most of the things we know about real life away from school. We are often said to be just like them and any habits, good or bad, are passed on to us even if we aren’t even aware of them.

But either way, if you feel the emotional hold of money, it could be affecting interactions with your significant other. Letting personal feelings get in the way of concrete financial planning and budgeting may lead to long-term problems. Being logical and productive about your money goals and spending can help any discussions about money be less fraught with emotion. It becomes more manageable to develop a plan that works for both partners when you put your logical mind to it. That is why it’s important to set high-stress feelings and emotions aside as much as you can.

It’s very important to be calm and stress-free when you lay out a budget. The budget then becomes the “rule of law”!

Financial Infidelity

One damaging course that a relationship can be on is one called “financial infidelity”. It is a very common occurrence when two people do not share the intimate details of their incomes and spending habits in an honest way. For some reason, one or both of the partners hide details of their income and spending habits from the other and when that happens, financial problems are bound to develop.

It may sound shocking to think that married couples in particular wouldn’t be able to share and work together towards their common goal of financial security, but it is way more common than you may think.

When in this situation, you cannot plan, budget, and control your finances. Honesty is the key to resolve this problem.

Consider Different Spending Habits

If you and your partner have similar spending habits, that’s great news. In reality, though, you likely spend money very differently. With that being said, you can get on the same page if both of you are willing to be open and honest about the good and bad points surrounding each of your spending habits.

Is there something your partner does that makes financial sense? Try to be open about adopting that habit and vice versa. When you are willing to learn from your partner’s good points about money, it can be a beneficial aspect of your relationship to grow together.

The same holds true for the sharing of the “why” among bad habits.

When spending and saving is disrupted or abandoned because one partner is not on the same page with the other, it is past the time when discussion should begin. When the problem has become full blown, it’s much more difficult to settle it down and reverse a damaged course.


One novel way of handling money stress and preventing it is to have “allowances” for each partner to use in their spending. It’s not much different than an allowance that you got as a child or may give to your own children in that it allows for each partner to have some fun money to use independently and without getting someone to approve the spend. The amounts would be discussed and approved in advance and the stress for that spending just disappears.

Once your monthly amount is gone, however, that’s it until next month. This not only helps to rein in a spender, but encourages a saver to do a little living for the moment. Just decide how you will separate this money out from your regular funds (like taking it out in cash or placing it in separate accounts) so that all the rules are in place.

Communicate Often With Open Discussions

Letting any money issues fester can cause arguments about other things. When you communicate about money often—and it should be an open topic of conversation, where each person isn’t afraid to speak up about how they feel—it’s going to lead to more productive talks. That way, everyone in the relationship feels like they can bring up the dreaded money subject at any time. If you never want to talk about it, the subject almost feels too taboo to bring up. Resentments about money and spending that money can boil over into arguments easily when that happens.

Remember That Finances Are Stressful

Having some perspective about how stressful finances can be will help you cope with all the details surrounding money conversations. Keep in mind that money is usually tied up in feelings about power and control in a relationship. Having as much balance as possible between partners can make it less stressful for both people.

Schedule a weekly money date with your significant other. Having a little face time about your money will help foster a stronger relationship. Opening up about your feelings will make those feelings known and not become a surprise later on.

When you meet, try hard to understand your partner’s perspective. Men and women often have different views. Women see money as a sign of security and stability. Women historically like to save for emergencies and become worried when financial problems arise. Men take more risks with money and see money issues as a threat to their self-esteem.

That’s why compromise is often essential. It is fine to disagree on some issues, but don’t let them get in the way of your overall goals as a couple.

Final Thoughts

Extreme financial stress can sink the ship of any good relationship. Navigating those financial waters can be tricky, at best. If you need help in your financial situation, it’s always a good idea to look to a third party for assistance. A financial advisor can help set you and your partner on the right track to untangling some of the issues you are facing with money, and mediate a plan that works for everyone, helping you both to deal with money problems better in the long run.

Are you one of those people letting financial woes impact how you feel about your relationship? If so, there are steps you can take to reduce the amount of stress taking a toll on your partnership. Do you understand how money problems can affect partnerships? Are you better prepared to prevent that from happening in your own relationship?

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