There are so many things that can create rifts in relationships. And while some of them are in your control, others can feel like they just inevitably happen to you. Sometimes you never agree on anything, sometimes friends or family get in the way, but one thing that can be especially tricky is dealing with money. Even when you share the most intimate parts of yourself with someone, it can be difficult to talk about money in a relationship. But it's crucial that, when you're in a long-term relationship, you can get comfortable talking about your finances.
A new survey from Personal Capital, a financial software and wealth management company, asked over 2,000 Americans about all things related to love and money — as well as the tensions that can develop when the two collide. Even though only nine percent of those surveyed said that being financially secure was among the most important qualities in a partner, 54 percent said that money is the biggest source of stress in their relationship — so it seems like money can be a bigger deal than people like to admit it might be.
Even though money seems to loom large in virtually everyone's minds, millennials were slightly less likely to see it as their biggest source of relationship stress. While 45 percent of Gen Y said it came in at number one, 56 percent of Gen Xers and 62 percent of Boomers said the same, which is amazing, consider the Boomers had access to affordable college tuition and mortgages. But I'm not bitter.
That's why it's so important that in a relationship, you talk about money openly and frequently — and start talking about it as early as possible. "Talking about money in a relationship is non-negotiable," Brianna McGurran, student loans and personal finance expert at NerdWallet, tells Bustle. "Consider it as important to the health of your partnership as supporting each other's hobbies or being polite to each other's moms. Opening up about your financial life means you’re showing each other the real you, and that honesty and vulnerability helps the relationship grow. Keeping secrets about money erodes trust, and avoiding the conversation for too long means you won’t have the tools to deal with money issues as they come up."
Negotiating money with your partner was a big source of relationship stress, but it wasn't the only one. In a relationship, there are other problems that can crop up — and the most difficult ones to deal with seem to be the ones that come up again and again and again, especially when you feel like you don't have the power to change them. Here were the top stressors in relationships, according to the survey.
With 54 percent of those surveyed pointing to money as their top relationship stressor, this was the clear winner.
Another source of tension in a lot of relationships is communication. In fact, 26 percent of those surveyed said that communication was the biggest issue. And, like money, communication is something that affects so many different aspects of your relationship, and of your life, that it can feel like everything becomes more difficult.
Seven percent of those surveyed said that work was the biggest stressor affecting their relationship — honestly, seems like that number should be higher.
Tied with work was the stress caused by in-laws, which also came in at seven percent. Fitting into someone else's family is never easy, but if you're particularly close to your family the tensions can run even higher.
Obviously not every couple has children, but for those that do, kids can be a major source of stress. In fact, six percent of people surveyed said that kids were their biggest source of stress.
There are so many different things that can cause problems in relationships, but there's no denying that money and couples can be a sticky combination. But the more you keep the conversation flowing, the easier it becomes. At some point, it becomes normal. So keep talking — about your expectations, wants, debts, needs — and make sure you're approaching finances as a team.