If you’re a saver and your partner is a spender, or vice versa, how can you manage your ideas and impulses when making joint financial decisions? Without being on the same page, your finances and relationship will struggle, and the arguments over money—saving vs. spending—will only get worse.
In many relationships, there is a “higher self-control partner” and a “lower self-control partner”—one who tends to save money and the other who tends to spend money, respectively. Couples, when faced with financial disagreements, can help improve their finances, self-control, and relationship with this expert advice.
Be realistic about the way you and your partner make decisions. Does one of you tend to indulge more often than the other? Is one of you more of a tightwad? Your self-control levels will change the way you navigate this decision together, so make sure you’re aware of your own tendencies.
If you have high self-control, realize that you’re going to be tempted to give in so that you can get along. Make sure this won’t have negative consequences for your joint well-being. Kindly voice your opinions and concerns if you feel there has been a lack of self-control.
If you tend to be less stringent and frugal, be open to compromising on your immediate impulse. Your partner may have your long-term interests in mind. It’s important to find balance, and being willing to yield your spending habits to your partner’s saving habits will only be beneficial in the long run. Doing so will leave money in the bank for a time when you will need to spend it on something important.
Exerting financial self-control together, as a team, will help keep your relationship healthy. Eighty percent of divorces are the result of disagreements about finances, so it’s imperative to work together to exercise self-control, especially to keep the relationship balanced.
Stressing the importance of the relationship to the lower self-control partner leads to better self-control in the joint decisions of mixed pairs. Instead of saying, "We need to do it my way,” the higher self-control partner could say, for example, "Honey, think about our relationship. Maintaining the harmony between us is far more important than sticking to what you want." This sort of dialogue would hopefully encourage the lower self-control partner be more willing to compromise, allowing the couple to make more prudent decisions together.
Joint decision-making might not always be a good thing. If you have different levels of self-control, ceding control over some important decisions to the higher self-control partner might work better. Let the tightwad make the household budget sometimes, instead of arguing over it.
When the individual with more self-control is concerned with maintaining tranquility, they will be more likely to acquiesce to their free-spending partner’s desires. This is the wrong direction for successful long-term outcomes like health and financial stability.
Don’t assume that if your partner has high self-control, it will allow you to exhibit better restraint. Work together to find an equilibrium and develop financial self-control together. It’s each partner’s personal responsibility to improve their self-control for both their own and partner’s benefit.
Forfeiting your voice and opinion if you have high self-control means you’ve given up, and are left out of the decision-making process. Find a way to compromise, so both sides are considered.
Don’t automatically assume that a mixed level of self-control is the kiss of death for your relationship. It will just take a little more effort to work together and understand how the other operates.
Placing the burden of restraint on a higher self-control individual in a partnership can seem like the easiest move, but it might undermine your happiness down the road. Talk together about how you can secure your long-term financial and relationship well-being, and help each other stick to a plan.
More expert advice about Finance for Couples
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