By Amanda Jensen
Divorce rates directly correlate with the amount of conflicts over money that a couple has. The more they fight about it, the more likely they are to break up. This is why it is absolutely essential for couples to make preparations that help to maintain a somewhat predictable financial future that you can communicate about and plan around.
While many people still fail to do so, most everyone is aware that money is something every couple needs to discuss thoroughly before conflicts have a chance to arise.
If you live with your partner, then you need to do this. Most of the time, both partners are not bringing in the same amount of money while contributing an equal amount of effort at home. You need to get together and discuss who is doing what, and make it fair.
Someone who spends more time at work should not be expected to do the same amount of house work, unless they’ve agreed to that.
If you are not earning equal amounts, and you are probably not, then you need to talk about that. Each of you should know exactly what portion of your income you are expected to contribute to the household budget, and what you are going to withhold for personal use, and those amounts may have to be unequal for practical reasons. That is something you may well have to compromise about from the start.
Your relationship will suffer unless each partner believes that the other person is pulling their weight, and also respects their partner’s right to keep something for themselves.
While privacy is very important, insisting upon it with your partner in regards to your finances is a relationship killer.
If you don’t lay your financial information out on the table, then you are signalling distrust and a lack of faith in your relationship. Hiding information shows that you don’t trust your partner to be fair with you, or worse, that you don’t want to be fair.
You cannot create a fair division of labour without complete transparency. Every raise needs to be talked about, and any large purchases not made with the agreed upon personal budget have to be discussed beforehand. It is a little cumbersome, but it is necessary.
Your division of labour will need to be revaluated whenever your financial situation changes. That means every time either of you gets a significant raise, or a new job, or has to work more hours, or your home situation changes, you need to adjust your plan so that both of you feel that it is fair. Do it before resentment begins to build and before someone feels the need to complain.
You have to discuss how you will deal with money in the case of pregnancy, or disability, or job loss, both before it happens, and again if it does, because circumstances are often different by the time actual disasters happen.
Significant hurdles like this often contribute to one partner feeling taken advantage of, while the other has to lean on them for a little too long. There are some shorter term fixes, like building up your personal savings or investing in income protection insurance, which can help you bridge temporary losses of income.
The most important thing is that you and your partner can see each other’s contribution, can agree that it is fair, and that neither of you spends money from a household budget on personal things. What that means is something each couple has to clearly define for themselves.
Amanda Jensen lives in Melbourne, Australia. She is a writer on behalf of AAMI.com.au, and specializes in financial advice pertaining to family matters and insurance.
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