According to Dixie Meyer and Renata Sledge in their article, “The Relationship Between Conflict Topics and Romantic Relationship Dynamics,” personal habits, communication style, household chores, finances, big decisions, quality time together, sex, parenting styles, and in-laws are the topics most married couples most frequently argue about.
The three biggest things? Finances, differences in parenting styles, and sex. These three things cause lowered relationship quality. But I only have the expertise to talk about finances. So in this episode of Best in Wealth, I will talk about the importance of transparency in financial decision-making and three tips to boost financial satisfaction in your marriage.
Outline of This Episode
● [1:08] I fought with my wife this week…
● [3:50] The relationship between conflict topics and romantic relationship dynamics
● [7:53] The importance of transparency in financial decision-making
● [11:54] How to overcome the trap of financial infidelity
● [16:41] Three tips to boost financial satisfaction in your marriage
● [21:07] Why my wife and I do not fight about finances
The importance of transparency in financial decision-making
Professor Jenny Olson and Professor Scott Rick are two leaders in this growing space. They recently summarized their freshest findings in a piece called, “You Spent How Much?” They found that when it comes to joint financial decisions, transparency wins the day.
Early in his career, Professor Rick developed the Tightwad/Spendthrift scale to measure the extent to which someone feels pain at the prospect of spending money (tightwad) versus someone who does not feel enough pain (spendthrift). Tightwads and spendthrifts tend to attract. Even though they attract, they are likely to engage in conflict around money issues.
Think about your relationship. Every relationship has a nerd and every relationship has a spender. One person always spends more than the other, even if they are both tightwads or both spendthrifts. It is clear, according to the research, competing ways of spending can lead to serious conflict.
How to overcome the trap of financial infidelity
So what happens when conflict begins to occur? Financial infidelity. Partners begin to lie about how much they spend or where they spend their money. Most people do this to avoid confrontation. But sustained financial infidelity over time is not unlike sexual infidelity. It may cause deep rifts in your relationship. I do not want this in my relationship! So how do you avoid financial infidelity?
One thing you can do is have a joint account with your spouse. When we got married, we thought separate accounts might lead to fewer fights. We thought if I made 75% of our income and she made 25% we would each contribute that much of our pay to a joint account to cover bills. Then we would have our own accounts to spend money as we wished.
But as we thought about going out to eat, buying Christmas presents, paying for college for kids, and retirement planning, things got complicated. So we decided a joint account was the way to go. Turns out, couples with joint accounts tend to have higher levels of relationship satisfaction.
One study I read sampled newlyweds and randomly assigned them to either have joint accounts or separate accounts. Those with joint accounts saw eye-to-eye on financial matters but also had higher relationship satisfaction two years later.
Three tips to boost financial satisfaction in your marriage
So what can you do as a financial steward to boost financial satisfaction in your marriage? Here are my thoughts.
● Develop a spending plan together: This allows you to communicate about your budget every month. My wife and I have been doing this for many years. We have gotten to the point that we have a great financial plan. We are saving what we need for retirement, spending less than we make, have money saved for weddings, and more.
● Have a line item in your spending plan with a flex account for each person: We each get our own dollar value allotted monthly and we cannot complain about how each person spends their money. It is our money to spend how we please. And if we do not spend it all, it rolls over to the next month.
● Decide on a dollar amount that you will have a "check-in" on: Pick a dollar amount and if you are thinking about spending more than that dollar amount on one specific thing, have a conversation about it first. Make sure you are both on the same page.
The bottom line is that communication is the key to finances not becoming a contentious part of your relationship. Listen to the whole episode for the full conversation!
● The Relationship Between Conflict Topics and Romantic Relationship Dynamics
● You Spent How Much?
● Jenny Olson
● Scott Rick
● Spendthrift/Tightwad Scale
● Dave Ramsey’s EveryDollar app
● You Need a Budget (YNAB) app
Connect With Scott Wellens
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- Subscribe to Best In Wealth Podcast
- View Scott's profile on Fee-Only Network and NAPFA
The Best In Wealth Podcast is hosted by Scott Wellens. Scott Wellens is the principal at Fortress Planning Group. Fortress Planning Group is a registered investment advisory firm regulated by the Securities Act of Wisconsin in accordance and compliance with securities laws and regulations. Fortress Planning Group does not render or offer to render personalized investment or tax advice through the Best In Wealth Podcast. The information provided is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, tax, investment or legal advice.