scorecardHow to start talking about money with your partner – without fighting
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How to start talking about money with your partner – without fighting

Ryan Hogg   

  • Money is second only to infidelity when couples file for divorce, according to a 2018 study.
  • That's because couples often find it impossible to discuss, according to Ramit Sethi.

Money is one of the most important things in life, but it can also feel awkward to discuss openly.

With a recession looking increasingly likely, personal finances could start to put a strain on your relationship. A 2018 study by Ramsey Solutions, a financial consultancy, found money was the second leading cause of divorce behind infidelity.

Ramit Sethi hosts couples with quarrels about money on his podcast "I Will Teach You How To Be Rich". Many of his interviewees share the same problem: an inability to talk about or organize money together.

Couples don't talk about money

"Couples don't talk about money, especially in the early days," Sethi told Insider.

"They don't talk about money until they have to. So people's relationship with money is highly fraught. It's almost always reactive. They wait until something bad happens, and then they fight about it. And then they paper over it until the next time."

Sethi said people often bring their baggage around money into a relationship.

"The real problem is that we each come to a relationship with a different perspective on money, the way we were raised about money, the amount of money we make, and then the way that we believe our relationship should interact," Sethi said.

It can be difficult to work on your relationship with finances as a couple if you haven't worked on it by yourself first.

"Because none of us really learn how money works, it's like taking one plus one equals 1000, and it's the genesis of many, many disagreements," Sethi added.

Imagine your 'rich life' together

Sethi asks couples to "imagine their rich life," whether it involves traveling, buying expensive items, or just feeling financially secure. If a couple wants to transform their relationship with money, Seith told Insider, they need to create a shared vision around finances is vital.

Sethi told Insider he then gets couples to take a look at the numbers and get a better understanding of their finances.

He has seen couples who have millions in savings quarreling over $20 expenses and takeaway food, he said. "Most people equate how much they have in their checking account to what their financial health is. That's a very rudimentary way of looking at money."

Creating a full picture of your shared and individual assets is a productive way of getting in touch with your financial goals and improving your understanding of money.

Once you have a shared vision and a deeper understanding of your finances as a couple, Sethi recommends partners strategize together financially.

He also suggested asking important questions on how to approach your finances moving forward: "How are you going to talk about money? What kind of proactive meetings are you going to set up? And when are you going to take that trip to Italy?"

Sethi doesn't think his advice always works — about 10% of the couples he brings on his podcast don't reply to his check-ins, something he calls a red flag. But Sethi also notes that money alone is rarely the problem if a couple is struggling.

The deeper issue can often be about how someone communicates or treats the other person. "Money is just a word. If you reverse engineer, it goes back to 'he wouldn't talk about money with me.' Or 'she wouldn't sit down with me and work through our spending plan.' It's the most minute things."