Many factors contribute to the building of a solid relationship with your significant other, but perhaps one of the most overlooked is your ability to talk openly and honestly about finances.
If you’ve ever lied to your spouse about money or purposely failed to disclose specific details, you’re not alone. In fact, according to a recent financial survey from Ipsos Reid and BDO Canada Limited, more than half of Canadians don’t tell their loved ones the entire truth about their financial situation.
The main reason we are dishonest when discussing money is our desire to protect our partner from worry. What you may fail to realize is that the information being hidden “may be very important in regards to how it directly impacts your partner,” says certified relationship coach, Stephan Labossiere.
If you haven’t been honest about your financial situation, it’s never too late to come clean. “Though it’s possible for the truth to cause conflict we are likely to do less damage by ‘fessing up sooner rather than later,” says Dr. Jess O’Reilly, PhD, sexologist.
Start the conversation by explaining why there were lies in the first place, and how you have come to understand the importance of being open and honest. Labossiere says you must own up to past decisions, but now you can move forward as a couple. For a healthy relationship to continue, it’s important for your partner to embrace the new approach and to put the lies behind them. “However, a consequence of the previous lies is that there may always be a slither of doubt in your partner’s mind.”
This doesn’t mean that you have to share financial information with everyone you date. Labossiere says if a couple isn’t married (or in a common law relationship) they don’t need to let everything be known. “However, once you deem this person as someone you want to spend your life with then yes, you should be honest about your finances.” If you don’t feel you can do that with them, then you need to ask yourself these questions: Why are you with them? If you feel like you can’t do that with anyone, then the question becomes what has happened to you, or what have you seen that has caused you to be guarded like this?
These issues need to be resolved within you before entering into marriage. “Unless, of course, you both want to agree on withholding some financial information.” He doesn’t suggest this sort of arrangement, but as an adult you can make your own decisions.
The best way to avoid relationship issues is to create an open and honest environment by discussing your financial situation, spending habits and goals before problems and disagreements arise. A great way to do this is by scheduling regular/quarterly check-ins. “If you can, schedule the check-ins over brunch or a glass of wine so that you have something to look forward to during the potentially intense discussion,” says Dr. Jess.
Talk about: Where you’re at financially (e.g., current net worth). Where you’ll be based on your current path (e.g., 5, 10, 20 & 25 year projections – this will depend on your age). What changes you might like to make with regard to your spending and saving habits.
Lying about debt, earnings or assets often results in conflict, hurt feelings, resentment, distrust and break-ups. You can’t function as a team if you lie about something that you interact with every day, says Dr. Jess. Your partner deserves to know the truth, and an open and honest environment can ultimately strengthen your relationship.