They say that love conquers all. With love, anything is possible. All you need is love. You can insert any number of corny love clichés here. The question is…do they still ring true when you’re struggling to pay the bills and put food on the table?
Some will argue, “Yes! Of course. At least we have each other”. But statistics show that money is one of the top reasons for relationship woes and why many marriages end in divorce. It’s also a big contender for why some people in long-term relationships aren’t willing to take the final step and get married, despite prodding from better halves and family members.
So, which is better? Commit yourself to a life you know you can’t afford? Or weather the storm together because, “I can live without money, but I can’t live without love.”? (Thanks for that bit of inspiration, Judy Garland.)
Truthfully, there’s no winning side in the love vs. money war. They’re both important to happiness. Being in love and being loved just gives you the warm and bubbly feelings that help you get through your roughest day. Call me cynical if you must, I prefer practical, you need to eat to live and you need to be alive to love. And if you can’t afford the groceries, let alone phone, electricity and water bills (where’s my wi-fi?!), it can make love seem like a non-essential.
Don’t lose hope yet. Understanding and being sensitive to the effect that financial trouble can have on your own psyche, and that of your betrothed, can help make your relationship stronger. According to Communications expert and writer for Psychology Today online, Preston Ni, “Money issues and disputes tap into some of our deepest psychological needs and fears, including and not limited to trust, safety, security, power, control, and survival”.
Here are some other pointers, adapted from SunTrust, that can help you and your better half keep the love and even some of your money:
If you’re in a serious committed relationship and want to tie the knot, be sure to have a sit down where you both share your financial situations. You both need to know of the others debt, income and spending habits upfront, so there are no unwanted surprises later on.
Share the burden.
Now that your finances have joined, alternate budget, bills and savings management between the two of you, so that you each understand your financial situation and learn how best to manage your money. Come up with financial management strategies together, that you both agree on, so you’re always on the same page.
With life changes, come financial changes – some good, some not so good. Be flexible. Revisit your financial plan from time to time and make decisions, together, on how to tweak as necessary.
If you think you crossed a line (shoes!), admit it – sooner rather than later. And if you think one has been crossed, bring it up with your partner, in a non-judgmental environment, so that the issue can be resolved and love can reign once more.