Cupid brings love, money brings stress. But you can combine them harmoniously.

Brett Holzhauer
Brett Holzhauer February 13, 2024
Two people holding up a set of keys with a house-shaped keychain attached to it, likely the keys to their new home.

We all know Valentine’s Day (or Singles Awareness Day) is this week, and it can evoke a myriad of emotions ranging from excitement to dread to annoyance. But feelings aside, this holiday is a big deal economically. People who celebrate Valentine’s Day are expected to spend over $14 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. 

But here’s the irony of the holiday: money-related issues are one of the leading reasons that relationships struggle and sometimes fail. Nearly 40% of individuals cite money as one of the reasons for partners to split. 

Here are a few things to consider about relationships and money, along with what you and your partner can talk about together to accomplish your financial goals. 

Money can impact relationships, both positively and negatively 

Whether you’ve experienced it yourself or know someone who has, money can be a significant stressor within a relationship.  

In a 2022 YouGov survey, money ranked as the number two reason why couples argued. Notably, respondents in the age 18-44 range argued more about money than those over 45 years of age.  

And without healthy discussions about tough subjects, arguments about finances could spiral into bigger issues, including “financial infidelity”, which is lying to your spouse about money. From keeping purchases hidden, lying about debts/income, or even lending money without consent of your spouse, financial infidelity can come in many forms. And 30% of couples have unfortunately grappled with this issue, according to the US News and World Report. I even covered this when I was a reporter at CNBC

It’s important to understand that money and emotions can be connected, and one typically doesn’t come without the other. So here are a few tips for approaching your partner about the topic in a healthy and productive manner. 

It takes two 

In many relationships, it’s normal for one person to take the reins on the financial aspect of the relationship. However, it takes two people to make a household work together, and regardless of how much each person brings to the table, financial decisions and goals should be discussed openly and often. 

A 2022 survey from The Knot says that seven in 10 couples discuss the topic of finances weekly, and 32% discuss it a few times a week. However, the conversations aren’t always easy. The survey found 10% of couples struggle to have a conversation around finances, connecting it to phrases like “awkwardness”, “different values”, and “poor communication.” 

As you’re talking through financial topics, try your best to be honest about how you’re feeling currently and what you’d like to improve on with your partner.  

For example, instead of saying to your partner, “money is stressing me out”, you can say “How are you feeling about our finances recently?” From there, aim the conversation to be direct and empathetic to see where you can improve together.  

If there’s a disagreement about spending, avoid shaming your partner about it and talk about where they are emotionally. And if you’re the spender in this situation and your partner is displeased, do your best to explain where you’re coming from and understand why they are concerned.  

And if there is a financial predicament or hardship that you need to discuss, be intentional about sitting down with your partner to explain the situation and any potential solutions to fix it.  

Facing financial stress is hard enough alone. Face the battle with your partner together and it can make you that much stronger together. 

Build the castle together 

In a partnership or marriage, two people come together to create a castle — and one of the necessary parts of building a castle is wealth. And that wealth (along with other important factors) will keep the castle stable and growing. But this means both people coming together to make decisions and choices today with hopes for long-term prosperity. 

In the short-term, consider these ideas as discussion starters that you and your partner could build around as part of your financial conversations: 

  • How much money do you think we can save each month? And what do we want to save for? (a new car, down payment on a home, etc.) 
  • How much do you want to spend each month investing in our relationship? 
    • Your relationship is an investment and shouldn’t be neglected. 
    • This can be allocated for gifts, date nights, traveling, etc. 
  • Have you thought about our post-working years at all and what that looks like? 
    • You can use a retirement calculator and run the numbers of how much money you will need to retire 
    • Mention potentially starting to invest for the future. You could consider a joint brokerage account to get your toes wet into investing, and even look into using an IRA to hopefully boost your retirement nest egg. 

The bottom line 

Money and relationships have a unique intersection, and there is not a prescriptive way to navigate it. However, if you and your partner can navigate it together, you will be a stronger couple for it. 

So don’t skimp out on the box of chocolates or that date night out. That small purchase can be an investment, if you use it correctly. And that investment can pay dividends forever.