money and relationship

At 10 pound an hour my life is worth around 1.5 million but with 1.5 million I couldn’t buy more time if I tried. It’ no surprise that relationships are often the first to suffer when time and money collide.

Working freelance often affords me free time but the stability of my girlfriend’s 9 to 5 can leave me lounging around the house alone. Balancing free time can be difficult and even if your schedule is flexible, that doesn’t mean your loved ones will be. Pitted against that special someone most would come second but with money things just aren’t that simple.

If you’re looking for a new approach to this age old problem of money and relationship collision, I’ve listed some tips on how to prevent it from happening.

Don’t lie about your financial situation

In the early stages of your relationship, establishing your financial position is important, remember to be honest about your current financial position. Wanting to build for the future is natural but if things go south, continuing the same lifestyle can become unrealistic.

Are you a private person? I often feel that being in a relationship compromises this primal feeling, particularly when finances are involved, but keeping secrets is bound to lead to trust issues.

Don’t hide income, debt or poor spending habits. Bring financial documents, including a recent credit report, pay stubs, bank statements, insurance policies, debts, and investments to the table.

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This approach can help you to reduce or share feelings of stress. Try to remember the benefits of being in a relationship and use your partner as a source of advice and support. There is no magic wand to wipe away your debts but there is a way to reduce the negative effects of a financial slump.

Plan ahead

Have you planned your next holiday? This is usually about the time when money comes to the forefront of any relationship, if you’ve had a fortunate year then this could be a memorable time for all the right reasons but if you haven’t considered who will be paying for what and when, things might become a little tense.

Construct a joint budget that includes savings and deciding which person will be responsible for paying the monthly bills. Allow each of you to have independence by setting aside money to be spent at his or her discretion. Decide upon short-term and long-term goals. It’s OK to have individual goals, but you should have family goals too. Talk about caring for your parents as they age and how to appropriately plan for their financial needs.

Avoid misunderstandings

My belief is that most relationship issues are often caused by lack of communication and understanding. It is crucial if you want to build a long lasting and happy relationship. We are rarely taught what effective communication is and I feel this is a fundamental problem when it comes to actually forming a bond and building a life with someone.

If you want to start talking about your finances, you could try discussing purchases before you make them. Avoid approaching the subject in the heat of battle. Instead, set aside a time that is convenient and non-threatening for both of you. Don’t find blame and avoid being too controlling. Acknowledge that one partner may be a saver and one a spender, understand there are benefits to both, and agree to learn from each other’s tendencies.

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Be sensible to partner’s needs

I went out for a meal with my girlfriend. I was so hungry, so I made my order, but soon I realised that she just wanted to have a talk. My facetious attitude wasn’t cute and my order of burger and chips didn’t seem like a sensible choice.

Falling in love can make you feel like a kid again. You know what you want and everything else doesn’t seem worth thinking about. But what is it that you want from your relationship, what does your partner want?

It’s important to understand your needs and wants and understand that your partner will not be able to meet all of your needs including the financial ones. Be willing to negotiate and compromise on the things you both want in life. Do not demand a change to meet your expectations. Work to accept the differences that you see between the ideal and the reality.

Don’t let financial hardship get in the way

That first kiss is always a magic moment, a point in time you didn’t stop thinking about but after a few heated discussions, those soft lips can seem like the gate to a whole world of trouble.

Financial hardship can and does breed low self-esteem. Stress and depression is often bottled up and ignored, furthermore, these psychological issues can lead to physical ailments.

So please remember: “Don’t stop cuddling, stroking each other and kissing each other. You can still maintain an intimate and sensual relationship.” (NHS advice). Keeping a healthy relationship also means keeping yourself healthy both psychologically and physically.

Seek advice

Hard times while trying to find a balance between money and relationship can often leave you feeling alone. Having someone to confide in and trust is often the start people need to begin to tackle their issues.

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You can always seek advice from a worried relative, a close friend who has been in a similar situation or from the taxi driver who picked you up from the supermarket. If things are more serious, The National Foundation for Credit Counselling (NFCC) is a great source of professional advice.

Image: flickr

Dale is a film & theatre maker from Manchester, UK who works on regional and national productions. In the past he facilitated creative writing groups and has experience directing a few short films with plans to direct a few larger projects.

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