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Less Than Half of Couples Are Avoiding This Burning Financial Problem

Katie Brockman, The Motley Fool

Relationships come with their fair share of compromises. When you're building a life together, you can no longer make major life decisions on your own -- and sometimes, that causes conflict.

Many of those conflicts stem from finances. Money is one of the top sources of stress cited in relationships, according to a survey from SunTrust Bank, and one in seven people say they've ended a relationship over money.

There are plenty of reasons couples fight over money. Maybe you're more frugal and prefer to save money, while your spouse spends frivolously without thinking about the future. Or perhaps you want to save to buy a house, but your partner wants to continue renting. When you're not on the same page about your financial priorities, it can cause relationship rifts. But sometimes, even seemingly insignificant disagreements can cause problems between couples.

Unhappy senior couple sitting at a table

Image source: Getty Images

The hidden dangers of secret spending

When you're in a committed relationship, keeping secrets from your partner can be a recipe for disaster. That holds true when it comes to finances, yet many people admit to not being completely honest with their partner about their spending habits.

More than 60% of people admit to making a purchase they know their partner would object to, according to a survey by The Ascent. Those situations don't end well either, with four out of five couples saying those types of purchases led to arguments.

The Ascent survey found that men were more likely than women to want to buy something behind their partner's back. Further, roughly two-thirds of men and nearly half of women said they desired something they couldn't have within their relationship.

Financial infidelity -- or being dishonest with your partner about your spending -- is more common than you may think. This type of dishonesty includes things like hiding or lying about the purchase price of an item, hiding an item you've purchased from your partner, or not being honest about your debt.

In fact, 71% of people admit to committing at least one instance of financial infidelity, according to The Ascent, and the consequences can be significant: 30% of men and 39% of women said they don't trust their partner to spend money responsibly. Because finances are such an integral part of any relationship, if you can't trust your partner with money, it can be a challenge to make the relationship work.

Solving money conflicts before they become serious

Every couple is going to have disagreements over money at some point. To ensure your relationship survives these arguments, it's important to have a few guidelines in place to make sure you both have the same goals and priorities.

First, get comfortable talking about money. "Finance" shouldn't be a dirty word, and the more comfortable you are discussing financial topics with your partner, the easier it will be to make sure you're in agreement about what's OK and what's not OK financially within your relationship.

Part of the "money talk" involves setting boundaries for how much you're each able to spend without consulting your partner. It's not healthy to keep track of every dollar your significant other spends every day, but it is a good idea to set a limit for how much you can each spend before you need to loop your partner into the discussion.

The average person expects their spouse to provide advance notice for any purchase over around $250, according to The Ascent, and they also say that for purchases more than approximately $500, they expect to be part of the decision-making process. Your limits may differ based on your financial situation, but it's a good idea to have these boundaries in place to set expectations within the relationship about spending habits.

Sometimes, these boundaries may seem unfair. It can be a tough transition going from single life, where you don't have to consult anyone before making a decision, to entering a committed relationship and having to disclose how you spend your own money. But in order to reach your shared financial goals, it's important to have shared financial rules about how the two of you will manage your money.

Relationships are hard work, and money management is also a tough skill to master. Disagreements over finances are bound to pop up, but by being transparent and honest about your finances, you can avoid letting these arguments ruin your relationship.


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This article was originally published on Fool.com