Think things like communication or a sense of humor are the only keys to maintaining a healthy relationship? Think again. Your financial habits, as well as your partner’s, can have a huge effect on your chance of developing a successful relationship.
As proven in TD Bank’s 2016 Love and Money survey, your money habits and overall financial situation can impact your relationship in positive and negative ways. The statistics speak for themselves, but many experts agree: The secret to your relationship’s success could be in your wallet.
After all, everyone brings baggage into relationships — and money is no exception. Things like income, debt, bad credit, excessive spending habits and disagreements on how to spend money can impact relationships in many obvious and surprising ways, both big and small. Here’s a look at how your finances can positively impact your relationship.
1. Talking about money early could strengthen your relationship.
Having the “money talk” early on and regularly is one of most important money lessons for a successful relationship. In fact, the TD Bank survey found that nearly 80 percent of survey respondents in relationships who talk about money at least once a week are happy.
Communication about money can help resolve money issues in your relationship, added Suzanne Casamento, founder of Fantasy Dating and author of “Dare to Date.”
“The key is to be proactive from the beginning,” she said. “If you know that dating someone who is a solid saver and has good credit is important to you, express that up front.”
She warned that this advice doesn’t mean you should ask, “So, what’s your credit score?” on the first date, however. Instead, get the financial conversation going by asking open-ended questions such as: “How important is it to you to have good credit?” and “What is your philosophy around spending?”
From there, Casamento recommended asking your partner if they’d be open to coming up with a money plan together in the future — should your relationship go further than a few dates, of course. “That way, you can refer back to the plan you came up with together and decide how to get back on track” if any issues arise, she said.
2. Financial security could help your relationship last longer.
In order to have a healthy, thriving relationship, it pays when both people in the relationship are financially secure.
“Practically everyone who’s ever hired me to find them a match has asked to meet someone financially secure enough to be in the relationship they’re looking for,” said Master Matchmaker® Steve Ward, founder of LoveLab.com.
Now, that doesn’t mean the only reason you should date or marry someone is because they can afford to buy you fancy jewelry, take care of all the bills or pay off your student loans. And, it doesn’t necessarily mean your partner has to earn as much as you do, or as much as you would like. But, they “should be able to support themselves, their dependents and their lifestyle,” said Ward.
Consider the hypothetical situation: You and your partner experience a financial emergency, such as a job loss or a severe car accident. If you and your significant other can’t afford to cover the cost of a catastrophic event, it could wreck havoc on your relationship.
“The dysfunction that ensues is not the disease — it’s a symptom of financial stress, irresponsibility and mismanagement,” said Ward. “To this day, it is the No. 1 cause of breakups.”
Protect yourself — as well as your relationship — from financial risk, and “share the cost of your relationships proportionally based on your respective incomes,” he suggested. “In this day and age, it should be considered a source of pride to be able to support yourself and your fair share in a relationship.”
3. Taking control of finances could minimize arguments.
Who wouldn’t want to stop fighting with their partner about money? Unfortunately, many couples fight over these three things: power, control and intimacy. And finances can play a big part in all three.
That’s according to Dr. Paul DePompo, a board-certified cognitive therapist and “The Other Woman” author. “Having little control and power over your finances can lead a relationship to increased stress, arguing and difficulty being able to relax,” he said.
So by taking control of your finances — whether individually or as a couple — you’ll likely feel more secure and relaxed. Hopefully, this will make it easier for you and your partner to enjoy each other’s company with fewer arguments about how to handle money.
4. Being debt-free could decrease tension and stress in your relationship.
The uncertainty of debt and bad credit, in particular, can profoundly impact a relationship’s probability of success, said finance expert Leanne Jacobs, who’s also the author of the upcoming book “Beautiful Money.” While it’s possible to temporarily hide money troubles from a partner, the patterns associated with debt often show up in other areas of life — something a partner in a serious relationship is sure to catch on to.
“The energetic and emotional cost of carrying bad debt brings higher levels of anxiety, stress, tension, anger and frustration to the relationship mix,” said Jacobs. “With time and with more debt accumulating, it becomes all you think about and little by little sucks the life out of you.”
Not only does debt affect you emotionally, but it can affect how you and your partner spend time together, where you go out on a date and whether you’ll be able to afford a wedding, honeymoon or even a mortgage.
“Finding joy in small things becomes less frequent and slowly fades away,” said Jacobs. “Feelings of gratitude and happiness seem to be overshadowed with the stress and tension of the debt.”
But with a realistic plan to decrease debt, you’ll start to feel more secure in your financial future — which will likely decrease anxiety and stress within your relationship.
5. Better credit scores could improve balance in your relationship.
It’s no surprise that bad credit can limit what you and your partner are able to accomplish in terms of acquiring assets and creating a healthy financial landscape. However, it’s important to realize that bad credit can also cost you emotionally, eventually causing challenges in a relationship.
“Think of your credit score as a leadership score for yourself,” said Jacobs. “If you’ve spent years — perhaps decades — paying your bills on time, acquiring assets and taking great care of your credit score, it can be emotionally straining to get into a relationship with someone who has a poor credit score.”
Oftentimes, the individual with better credit will wind up feeling a significant amount of pressure and responsibility to maintain a good credit score in order to provide financially for their partner. “This can cause an energetic imbalance in the couple and, with time, frustration and anger is likely to surface,” she added.
If you want to have a successful relationship, work to increase poor credit scores. That way, you can improve balance in your relationship and lessen the pressure and frustration one partner might be feeling.
6. Less money stress and working together could improve your sex life.
Money problems can be a huge and damaging distraction in a relationship. And one aspect of a relationship financial troubles can distract from is a couple’s intimacy, said Earl Lewis, a couple and family therapist and founder of Relationships Gone Right.
“It’s not easy to go to bed in the mood for passion when the two of you are struggling to keep the lights on, have bill collectors calling daily and are constantly trying to figure out who’s going to pay what,” he said. “It creates an anxiety that is overwhelming to the point that when the lights go out, the only thing a couple may want to do is sleep and dream of not being financially stressed.”
Jacobs agreed that getting intimate isn’t easy when financial troubles are constantly clouding your thoughts. “Feeling confident and empowered sexually flows more gracefully when we have our money stuff together,” she said.
Not only is it important to have a grip on your finances as a couple, but sharing financial goals could be beneficial — both inside and outside of the bedroom.
“Often, that feeling of being on the same page and working toward the same goals alleviates stressors that affect couples in other arenas — like the bedroom,” said April Masini, a relationship expert and author.
She explained that if you have the same financial goals as your partner — whether it’s buying a new home, saving enough money so you can retire early, etc. — “there’s a tendency that you can take on other goals together. And couples will want to satisfy each other emotionally and sexually, as well as fiscally. Because sex is mostly private, you don’t see the positive outcomes of this theory as much as you see the negative ones.”