The prospect of starting a new relationship is thrilling and it’s understandable not to want to dwell on prosaic matters like money, but should you give a thought to your financial situation before plunging headlong into a new liaison? Given that arguing about money is by far the strongest predictor of divorce in the early years of a relationship, the answer seems to be yes – no matter how unromantic that may seem.
It’s important to have similar financial priorities
Try to work out whether a potential partner is someone who shares your approach to money. The last thing you want is to end up in a relationship in which one person is always monitoring the other’s spending. It’s important to be fair, respectful and communicative about daily spending. You must ensure that you have the same views when it comes to spending and saving overall.
A stable relationship generally leads to making future plans – things like buying a house or a car, having children and going on holiday. Whatever your path looks like, money matters because how you spend it will determine how you live and your goals.
Start with the groundwork
It is wise to spend some time getting your affairs in order before you join the dating game. Relationships can be destroyed by things like discovering that a partner has huge debts that have been kept secret for instance, so it’s best to make sure you don’t have any skeletons in the cupboard. In the same way, in time, you will want to know how much money your partner makes or whether there are substantial savings. If you’re thinking about living together, this sort of information is essential in order to make plans.
What about a big financial imbalance?
If you and a potential partner are miles apart in terms of money, then it could be problematic. Everyone is different and, for some people, it would be absolutely fine to support a partner. However, it’s best for both of you to have your cards on the table. Pretty much everyone would want to know that, even if your partner is struggling right now, his or her ultimate goal is to contribute to your joint finances, not take advantage by living off you.
You need to give some thought to how things will be managed if you and your partner don’t earn the same amount of money. Splitting all spending down the middle might be unfair and impractical, but how will it feel if one party always ends up paying for everything? It’s important to establish exactly what both partners are expected to contribute to a relationship. You need to make sure no one ends up feeling taken advantage of or out of their depth.
It’s incredibly easy to fight about money
If you don’t pay attention to the part money plays in your relationship, you can end up in serious hot water. For example, fighting about each other’s spending patterns. Money affects everything – from where you live to what you eat and when you come home from work. It’s important to make sure that you communicate well over money, so that it doesn’t sneak up on you and become an area of friction.
So, clearly money does matter and we ignore its significance in relationships at our peril. Relationships are built on honesty – and especially so when it comes to finances. If you’re planning on investing in a future together, it is crucial to understand each other’s financial history and credit agreements. Bottom line – don’t lose your head when you lose your heart.