Coined in 1992 by author Gary Chapman, the term ‘love language’ has slowly leaked into our everyday vocabulary and is now fairly broadly understood as the ways in which we show and share affection with those we care about.
Just this morning, in fact, I found myself telling a friend that sending each other funny tweets is mine and my husband’s love language – but could understanding our money love languages help us to communicate better about money in our relationships?
After all, it’s common for money – be it different salaries or different attitudes and beliefs – to cause friction between partners. Navigating who pays for dates, gifting and showing appreciation and, if things get more serious, things like saving for a house or passing on beliefs and habits to children, can feel like a bit of a minefield, so it’s a great idea to have these conversations sooner rather than later.
Here are a few ways that conflicts in your money love language can occur in your relationship, and how better communication might help to resolve them:
If one person doesn’t like talking about money
One of the most difficult obstacles to overcome can be when one partner is a “closed communicator”, according to Dr Peter Brooks, Head of Behavioural Finance at Barclaycard.
“If you’re someone who feels worried or concerned about checking your bank balance, being challenged by your partner to talk openly about money is likely to be really uncomfortable even if their support is well intentioned,” he says. Similarly, if you’re the person who’s trying to be open, feeling shut out can be frustrating – especially if you suspect there might be something worrying your partner.
If you suspect that your partner might have difficulty talking openly about money, offering some positive affirmations about their finances might be a good way to get them to open up, as could talking openly about your own financial ups and downs.
If you’re the one struggling to talk about money, try to remember that nobody’s perfect, and we all make financial mistakes every now and again – even your partner.
If blocks in communication cause issues when making serious decisions or reaching life milestones, speaking to an impartial third party, like a financial coach, could help.
If one person is a ‘saver’, and the other a ‘spender’
People with completely different money habits can sometimes find it very difficult to understand one another – especially because our attitudes towards spending and saving are often formed at a very early age, shaped by things like our parents’ relationship with money, how financially literate we are, etc. But it’s not impossible for two people with different financial priorities to have a great relationship, it just requires a bit of communication and compromise.
Deciding on some savings goals that you’re going to work on together – whether it’s a house deposit, a holiday or a date night – and committing to your contribution to them, can really help you to get on the same financial page.