MONEY. It’s problematic enough when you’re single and alone but throws another person into the equation and things start to get dubious. And I’m not just talking about letting someone pay for dinner on a date or who is going to pay for this year’s romantic getaway.
To be blunt, you’re kidding yourself if you think that’s the extent of how the money will factor into your relationship. Love might indeed conquer all, but it still needs a roof over its head. In short, finance matter because of the expectations that come with it. It dictates not only what you can do with your life, but also what your limitations are as a couple.
It’s an awkward and painful conversation but compulsory if you are in a serious relationship with someone. Before you start saying things like “But it’s my money! I earned it with my own sweat and blood!” (which is true, but also) here are 3 major highlights why finance actually matters in a relationship:
Reason #1 You need to have similar financial priorities
Having a partner who you can trust with money is way easier than trying to have a relationship where one person is constantly monitoring the other’s spending. You need to make sure that you are both capable of being reasonable, respectful and communicative when it comes to everyday spending, and that you share the same goals when it comes to spending and saving in general.
For example, when one person wants to save for a much needed new kitchen ventilation and the other person is impulsively dropping Rm 500 on a night out with friends (even on a semi-regular basis), there’s a pretty fundamental mismatch in priorities, which isn’t healthy nor sustainable.
When you’re partnering with someone, especially when you’re living together, your spending habits matter, and will always affect the other person.
Reason #2 You don’t want to unexpectedly need to support someone
Knowing how much wage your partner makes/has is important. Period. I’m not saying you have to start asking for bank statements on a second date, but if you’ve been together for a while, and plan to be together, you don’t want to have “Surprise! I’m broke!” suddenly spring up.
It’s alright to support your partner in difficult times, as you would have wanted them to do the same for you, but you don’t want to wake up one day to someone simply expecting you to carry them. Likewise, being financially independent helps in a situation supposed you were ever stuck in a bad or toxic relationship. It does give you the power to leave a bad relationship.
Reason #3 Planning a financial future together is important if you want to get live together or get married with children
Money can be the cause of a lot of arguments and unnecessary stress in a relationship. If both partners have a stable income and are financially independent, it would definitely be a facilitating factor in making a relationship slightly easier and minimising possible conflicts.
A stable relationship often involves planning a future, be it renting a house together, buying a house, owning cars, starting a family or taking lots of vacations. Whatever your path looks like, money is important because where you spend it is going to dictate how you live, and how you achieve your goals together as a couple.
My humble opinion:
In my profession, I’ve seen couples going through their relationships and even marriages with near complete financial independence, which is great if that’s what you want. While there is no ONE formula out there to solve this matter, you need to decide what the relationship means to you.
For me, a relationship should always be equal. I know some people think “equal” means a total 50/50 split in finances, but often that’s not possible or realistic for a couple. Especially when both parties don’t make the same amount of wage, why should they feel forced to split things evenly?
It doesn’t make sense. Knowing exactly what both partners are expected to contribute to a relationship is important to clarify, so no one ends up feeling exploited or out of their depth.