Love, Money, and Decision Making
How money talks affect our relationships
As of late I've noticed my peers making decisions to improve their lives, from moving up in their careers, to graduating, or moving to graduate school. It's encouraging seeing my friends and colleagues take these steps forward. The improvements I've seen haven't just been professional though. Perhaps more importantly I've heard from, and seen, friends making improvements to their relationships and personal lives. These are the improvements I admire the most. Taking the necessary steps to improve our relationships is hard. Personally, my partner and I had one of these uncomfortable talks, and came to a conclusion that we both happily agree is an improvement: the decision to live together.
The decision came after many discussions about the logistics of where we'd live, our budget, and the affect on our relationship it would have. After a long pause due to my hesitance, and a lot of patience on her end, we made the decision that suited us both the best. It took us a long time to come to that decision, and it's definitely not easy, but I am so glad we took the time that we did. I, as almost everyone I know, have seen couples race to make these types of decisions only to crash and burn, heartbroken that they couldn't make it work. How many of these uncomfortable conversations do we need to have to avoid that? How do we save our relationships from crashing and burning?
One mistake I've noticed these couples make (from firsthand experience at times), is a reluctance to talk about real issues our relationships face. Finance for example. How do you react when you learn the person that you love so dearly is in more debt than they let on? Or their spending habits make it impossible for them to save anything? What decision is ultimately best for you? This article, originally posted at hicharlie.com by Lindsay VanSomeren, includes a survey in which over 500 single women were asked when they had their first talk about money with their significant other. Not surprisingly, they waited until they were well into relationship. So why do we wait so long before having such an important talk?
The obvious argument is that nobody wants to start a third date conversation with, "So how much debt are you in?" or "How much money do you make?" But when is the right time to talk about it? Charlie found that, "Most women view potential beaus or belles with a large amount of debt as more of a liability, than an anchor." Isn't the whole point of marriage to establish more stability on the foundation of love? Shouldn't questions about money come up when we still have time to decide if the person opposite us is a good choice for a partner?
Now obviously, we as a society have some hangups regarding finances. Wage disparities in companies happen partly due to an unwillingness to talk to one another about what we earn, and companies are far too comfortable taking advantage of us, and especially women, because of it. We prefer to discuss our wallets only with those we trust, as the same article by Charlie finds, "48 percent of single women said finances should only be discussed at all in a serious relationship," but aren't we willing to have a few awkward conversations in the pursuit of a honest happy life. Isn't getting all of the awkward stuff out of the way what the early stages of our relationships are for anyway?
Our attitudes toward money are changing, and it is becoming evermore important to be financially literate, and confident having these conversations with our employers, our peers, and with our significant others. Have the tough chats. Your relationships are worth the brief discomfort.