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How to Resolve Financial Stress in Your Relationship

How to Resolve Financial Stress in Your Relationship

Has the pressure of managing finances as a couple caused stress in your romantic relationship? If so, you're not alone. It's not uncommon for couples to struggle to find common ground when talking about money.

In our experience caring for couples in therapy, we see that rarely are partner talking only about money when conversations arise around finances. Instead, we find surface discussions about budgets and investments or differences in income usually obscure the deeper conversations couples are working through together. These are meaningful conversations like who holds the power or control in the relationship, differences in personality styles and preferences for how to live, or unresolved issues from past romances or families of origin that seep out in disagreements in the present.

At Healthy Minds NYC, we love helping couples deal with financial struggles and relationship issues in financial counseling, marital therapy, or our marriage prep premarital counseling program. If you and your partner need help navigating challenges related to money, we are here to help. Schedule a call with our care coordinator to get started with support from our team. And then read below for a few tips Healthy Minds NYC co-founder Chanel Dokun shared with The Daily Om on resolving financial stress in your relationship.


"How to Resolve Financial Stress in Your Relationship"

from The Daily Om

Money matters are a leading cause of relationship strife. One study, conducted by the American Institute of CPAs in 2021, showed that 73 percent of cohabiting couples surveyed pointed to money decisions as their leading cause of rifts. And 57 percent of couples have felt increased financial stress in their relationship since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a 2022 Personal Capital report.

Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to get a handle on your money challenges while making the most of your romantic relationships. 

Here’s what several experts we spoke to had to say about money and relationships, including how to minimize that bothersome tension.

Is It Normal for Couples to Fight Over Money?

Money-related conflicts are common, according to Lee Phillips, EdD, LCSW, a psychotherapist and certified sex and relationship therapist. “Three things couples tend to fight over are sex, communication, and finances,” he tells DailyOM. And all three may be connected.

The American Institute of CPAs study showed not only that living together and money stress often go hand in hand, but also that the tension seeped into the bedroom, with 47 percent of couples reporting that financial stress negatively affected their sex lives. (While some people find sex helpful for stress relief, more often stress makes sex less appealing.)

Financial infidelity is not uncommon, either. Three in ten people surveyed by U.S. News & World Report in 2022 reported having dealt with it, either as a victim or a perpetrator.

“Financial infidelity occurs when one partner in the relationship lies about money,” explains Phillips. “In other words, they hide the truth when it comes to spending money.” You might conceal money from your partner, for instance, or learn that your significant other has been spending money from a shared account behind your back.

Why Is “Money Stuff” Such a Problem?

Why is money such a struggle in so many relationships? One reason is because financial matters have more to do with deeper issues than money itself, according to Chanel Dokun, a relationship expert trained in marriage and family therapy and author of Life Starts Now: How to Create the Life You’ve Been Waiting For.

“Money is a physical manifestation of our underlying beliefs about many aspects of life,” Dokun tells DailyOM. “Our values are often discovered and addressed as we engage with our partner around finances.” Your goals and the level of autonomy you expect may also be revealed through money, she says.

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