By Farzana Botha, 7 June 2021
In fact, money issues are a driving force in 55.6% of divorces. To keep your relationship shipshape, it’s crucial to play open cards with your partner. Even if your finances are totally separate, it is best to be on the same page and have shared goals you are working towards, together. Money can’t buy happiness. But being open about it can ‘earn’ you a healthier partnership.
As finances are a very sensitive topic, it is important to consider the emotional side and address how to have these important conversations with your partner, explains Farzana Botha, Product Specialist at Sanlam Savings. She notes that, “It’s not just about coming up with a set of guidelines for the partnership – it’s about having a good money management foundation as a couple and figuring out how to talk about the tough subjects.”
“Couples who are open to talking about their finances often find it easier to reach long-term goals such as
saving for a home or holiday,” she explains. “Your lifestyle aspirations and the dreams you have for your children and family can best be achieved when you are aligned on where you are heading. Be clear on what you are saving for – a rainy day,
education, a holiday, a
house deposit, and so forth, and agree and/or
get advice on how much you will need to put aside. Then decide how each of you can contribute towards your savings goals,” she adds.
Despite the intimacy couples have on other levels, they are often very awkward and uncomfortable when it comes to discussing what they each earn – plus their debts and assets – and how they plan to go forward together financially. Life and Relationships Coach, Leah Sefor, explains that if couples want to create a successful, sustainable future together, there must be transparency when it comes to their finances.
Below, Sefor provides tips on what should be discussed during these intimate conversations where couples can unpack their financial priorities, goals, expenses, and spending.
When partners share their money stories it can be extremely insightful. Understanding entrenched childhood belief systems around money can change the way you react to each other around undesirable money behaviours. This helps you both to be more empathetic with each other instead of defaulting to attack mode.
Healthy relationships are about supporting your partner with their life visions. Prioritise making
clear financial plans and a budget together so both your goals can be met. Discuss income and expenses and come up with a plan you are both comfortable with for how you will manage finances together. This will also help you practise the art of talking about money in a light way, every day.
You have to let your partner know what your
debt situation looks like early into a long-term relationship because it is going to impact them down the road. Understand that there is often embarrassment and shame around debt, explains Sefor, so getting angry with the person who has debt is not conducive to creating a safe space for honest conversations to happen. Be constructive in these discussions, not destructive with finger-pointing and attacks. Find compassion and choose a supportive approach when discussing how to overcome it and move towards a healthier money picture that serves you both.
Sefor highlights that the most common money issue she sees in relationships is when one partner earns more and is the primary breadwinner and the other either earns significantly less or is unemployed. In this situation, it’s important to shift your perspective and to know that your worth in a relationship is not determined by how much money you earn. Money is only one way of contributing value to a relationship. Partners who do not work still bring a huge amount of value and worth into the relationship by managing the home, the household shopping, the kids, the social arrangements and organising your lives.
Whoever is better at handling money should be the Chief Financial Officer of your relationship, explains Sefor. This isn’t a competition. We are all good at different things. There is a difference between controlling the money and managing the money. The CFO’s job is to manage the money, not control it by excluding their partner from decisions or becoming a dictator.
Your lifestyle aspirations and the dreams you have as a couple will be best achieved when you are aligned on where you are heading financially. “When you are transparent with your partner about what you are working towards, working together to achieve those goals will be even more rewarding,” concludes Botha.