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Financial differences are the number one cause for divorce in America, and it's probably the topic you are most hesitant to discuss with your significant other. When you're dating, ideas about finances can feel like something to discuss only in the future, but a high divorce rate indicates that waiting until marriage to talk about money can be detrimental to the wellbeing of your relationship. Here are some effective ways to broach the subject and see if your relationship has the potential for longevity:
Start small: For couples currently cohabitating, this is easy enough to accomplish. Discuss creating a monthly budget to get a good idea of general household costs each month. For couples not living together, this can be tricky, but eventually this conversation needs to be had. Observe your partner's attitude to their own finances to get an idea of their day-to-day money management habits.
Talk about history: Bring up the subject - be frank and lay it out on the table. Share your financial background with your partner (obviously the relationship should be semi-serious at this point). Talk about your family's views on money and ask your significant other about their own. The way we think about money and the management thereof is largely derived from the way we were raised, so it is important to share this information.
Emphasize savings rather than spending: We live in a complex culture where we are both encouraged and chastised for spending our earnings. Nobody likes to be told to stop spending; it makes us feel ashamed and makes it even harder to stop purchasing things. Make the emphasis on building your savings for the long term and work on thinking about money in terms of saving it rather than berating oneself or one's partner for spending it.
Pay attention to warning signs: We've all heard tragic stories of people winning the lottery and then ending up destitute due to a lifetime of poor financial habits. Watch your partner's behavior - if they gamble now, chances are nothing will change when you share a bank account. If you seem to have opposing values, see if you can reach a compromise. But if either of you have opposing stances regarding money, it can be a sign that you're not with the right person.
You don't have to always be in agreement with your significant other when it comes to financial issues. Part of being together is learning more about each other and adapting. However, as this is the number one force driving couples apart across America, it is worth your time and effort to make sure that you are financially compatible before getting too serious.