Money is usually a contentious subject in many relationships and if not handled well can lead to a breakup and divorce. The following principles may be applied to improve how you handle money in relationships:
- Trust. There has to be mutual trust among both partners. Each party should behave in such a way to earn and retain the trust of their partner. Without trust there is bound to be lots of strife in the family.
- Transparency. Ideally you want to be as transparent as possible with your partner in all financial matters. Both parties should disclose their earnings, investments, liabilities, etc. It’s quite unfortunate for married people to hide assets and liabilities from their spouses. There have been cases where some people have mortgaged the family home without the partner’s consent. Transparency enhances trust which improves financial well being at home.
- Shared Vision. The bible says that my people perish for lack of a Vision. Each household should have a Vision for the future. You need to describe what kind of family you want to be. Do you want to be rich? Do you want your children to be well educated? Do you want to own a home? Do you wish to be happy? Do you want your home to be peaceful? Do you want financial independence? Ideally the man should be the vision bearer in a relationship with the woman as a suitable helper. However, this doesn’t stop a proactive woman from taking charge of the family vision, where the man is agreeable.
- Planning. Each relationship needs some kind of long term financial plan. The plan will have a high level sketch of the assets, investments and liabilities you will acquire over some time. The plan can be a simple annual plan which both parties commit to.
- Budgeting. You should have a monthly budget for the home. You should not run out of tomatoes and onions in the night because you forgot to shop! Plan and shop over the weekend. Each couple should agree how to finance the budget. This will depend on many things like culture, religion, and financial standing. In some relationships the man finances everything. In others, it’s the woman. In some couples it’s a shared responsibility. Make sure you clearly agree on who does what to avoid unnecessary conflict.
- Communication. Honest open communication is necessary for financial well being in any relationship. Couples should share concerns, feedback, hardships, suggestions, in a calm friendly manner. Avoid complaining, resentment, nagging, anger, etc. when discussing financial matters. Dedicate a day in a month to discuss financial matters. You can combine this with your monthly date night.
- Role clarity. You need to negotiate clear roles in handling money issues. Forget what your parents did or what your pastor says. Each relationships is unique and you need to negotiate candidly who does what. Don’t just assume things. Who buys food? Who pays school fees? Who pays rent? Who builds the house? Who cooks food? Who keeps the home clean. If you don’t discuss these issues, your partner may have false expectations which may go unfilled leading to resentment.
- Mutual support. Support each other in your different endeavors. Your partner is your best friend and there is no room for jealousy. Support their career and business ventures. This support may come in offering resources, time and a friendly ear and encouragement when they face difficulty. It’s quite disheartening for some people to feel insecure and hinder the progress of their spouses. Some small minded and uneducated men stop their wives from pursuing opportunities for fear that they would outshine them!
- Independence. Each party in a relationship is still responsible for their own financial independence. Relationships end all the time. Don’t over rely on the spouse to provide a livelihood. This message goes especially to women and people in polygamous relationships. Don’t abandon your career for a man! This very man can easily leave you for another woman. Be a good wife but also become financially literate and pursue different opportunities.
- Confidentiality. Don’t discuss personal financial matters with outsiders. Very few people wish well for you. Most people would be happy to see you struggling. It’s a mistake to discuss relationship matters with relatives, parents, friends, etc. Solve your problems quietly and only escalate when things go out of control.
- Manage relatives and friends. Your relationship is for the two of you and not the whole clan. Keep relatives and friends at a safe distance from your relationship. Also manage the handouts to friends and family so as not to constrain your finances. Be open about the support you’re offering to relatives and friends.
Financial well-being in a relationship is a choice. With some effort, you can create a happy, joyous relationship full of abundance and prosperity.